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Old 6th October 2017, 07:45 PM   #1
RobT
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Default Koummiya-ish

Hi All,

There have been a number of knives posted in the past that have been variously surmised to have come from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Mali, the Bissagos Islands, and the Reguibat Arabs of Southern Morroco. Recently, OsobistGB posted a thread (African daggers for identification) with a dagger that looks similar to one that I recently acquired. I am posting mine in hopes that the hilt decoration might provide further clues. Overall, my dagger measures about 14.75" (37.5cm) long (including the projection atop the pommel). The koummiya style blade is about 8.8125" (22.4cm) long and, next to the hilt, is sandwiched between two brass cheek pieces. Some of the designs on the cheek pieces are either silver inlay or silver plate. The hilt (without pommel projection) is about 5.25". It is made of a very heavy, very hard, black wood. The wood is inlayed with silver wire. All of the other metal pieces on both sides of the hilt are silver. The pommel decoration on the back of the hilt differs from the front. There is a brass band inset into the wood at the top of the pommel. The pommel projection is made of brass with a silver band around it. The silver band looks more like aluminum than true silver. The sheath is leather without wood lining or inserts. It also doesn't have any attachment devices so it must have been worn inside a sash or other article of clothing. The dagger appears to be of a higher level prestige than the sheath.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 6th October 2017, 10:10 PM   #2
Battara
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This is a Tuareg dagger. The white parts might be silver.
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Old 7th October 2017, 01:24 AM   #3
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Default Thanks For The Reply

Battara,

Thanks for the response. The metal on the hilt is silver without a doubt. It was rather tarnished when I bought it and the tarnish smelled like silver when I rubbed it with my fingers. I lightly removed the tarnish with a silver cloth. The designs in the silver certainly appear as if they could be Tuareg and the Tuareg are noted for their silver work but I haven't ever seen a dagger like mine with a positive ID as Tuareg. I like Tuareg work and would be happy to know that my dagger is Tuareg but I should point out that the dagger in the OsobistGB post is rather similar to mine and nobody identified it as Tuareg. Perhaps you or someone else could point out some forum posts with these daggers identified as Tuareg.

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RobT
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Old 7th October 2017, 03:43 AM   #5
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And here are some pictures from Artzi's website:
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Old 7th October 2017, 05:06 AM   #6
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Hi Rob,
I have this one which would also fit as being described as Koummya-ish. Again likely of Taureg origin but with definite Moroccan overtones. The blade is typical Koummya type
Stu
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Old 8th October 2017, 03:18 AM   #7
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I agree Stu. In fact, I think one of the links has a similar one to yours. The Tuareg range does come up into Morocco.
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Old 8th October 2017, 04:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
I agree Stu. In fact, I think one of the links has a similar one to yours. The Tuareg range does come up into Morocco.

I obviously should have looked at the links before I posted. It is the same knife which I had posted some time ago........
Stu
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Old 8th October 2017, 11:52 PM   #9
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Ahhhh..............That makes sense now..........
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Old 9th October 2017, 05:21 PM   #10
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Default Nice Present To Come Home To

Hi All,

After my initial post, I had to go to Pennsylvania for two days. When I got home, I saw the evidence I had asked for and then some. It doesn't get any better than this. Thanks a lot to all for all the effort.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 9th October 2017, 06:07 PM   #11
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This is one of the most interesting daggers of its type I have seen due to all the cross-cultural influences. It is clearly influenced by the Moroccan "koummya", but has clear Taureg features and even Mauretanian influences as well.

Great find! ....another one I wish could talk!

BTW, you may find it interesting that I have brought forth the subject of "koummya" to every Moroccan person I have had the opportunity to meet in my education-related career. NONE of them had ever heard the word "koummya", but when I showed them the famous Moroccan dagger that we call by that name, they all said, "oh, you mean khandjar"...a more generic term for "dagger".
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Old 10th October 2017, 12:20 AM   #12
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I wonder if one is tribal term (i.e. Berber) and the other Arabic.
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Old 10th October 2017, 05:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
I wonder if one is tribal term (i.e. Berber) and the other Arabic.

....or is it another term generated by collectors to describe a particular item? Other examples are "Wahabite" for the long dagger found in Western Arabia, and "kattara" to refer to the straight Omani sword.
Stu
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Old 12th October 2017, 12:59 AM   #14
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Default Don't Write Off The Word Koummiya Just Yet

Hi All,

If you showed me a stockman folding knife, I would identify it as such but I would bet that if you showed the same knife to a good number of American born, fluent English speakers, the replies would most likely range from knife to pocket knife or folding knife or folder and jack knife. Some may even mis-identify it as a pen knife. You probably wouldn't hear any of them say stockman. All of the above responses are valid but stockman, although the least well known, is the most precise/least generic. The word koummiya goes back to at least the 19th century in France but it isn't a French word, so it is likely that the word was in common use at that time (if not before) among certain North African populations for a very specific dagger and the French just added the word to their own lexicon. Since the dagger is a formidable weapon, it is most probable that French colonial efforts included restrictions on the manufacture, sale, possession, and carry. This may very well have caused the word Koummiya to fall from common usage among the African populations while being retained in French. Today, koummiya (with many spellings) is known in at least France, Germany, and the English speaking world. It provides us with a widely held name/definition for a very specific type of knife. The word khanjar does not.

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RobT
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