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Old 20th January 2017, 02:46 PM   #1
motan
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Default Another early shibriya

Hello,
Few months ago, I showed a primitive and early shibriya in this forum (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=Shibriya). I like it a lot, and therefore, when I saw a similar one, I bought it immediately. This one is much larger (see picture of them together) and at 15", large for this type of dagger. It is difficult to say how old it is, but in my opinion these daggers appeared only around WWI, so an early date would be 1920's or 30's. The blade is narrow, long and made from an old file (see pics), because this was the best quality steel available to the makers. A similar one was discussed in http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=Shibriya but pics are missing) . Unfortunately, the pommel ring and disk are missing, but the condition is reasonable+. This kind of shibriya is quite uncommon and I much prefer it to more "standard" types shown next to it in the last pictures, or even to higher quality ones made with niello and koftgiri work. Thaks for watching this thread.
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Old 20th January 2017, 03:40 PM   #2
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Avner Yarom once introduced me to an old family friend, a collector of everything:-)
He had literally hundreds of old sharpies hanging on walls, under glass covers and just piled up in plastic baskets.

I still remember a humongous drawer filled to the brim with shibriyas.

Somebody could write a PhD or a full book with this drawer alone:-)
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Old 20th January 2017, 04:43 PM   #3
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Default To Ariel

Hi Ariel,
Shibriyas are not that common on the international market, mostly becuase of lack of familiarity and/or interest. The exception are contemporary tourist ones made in and around Amman, Jordan. I understand the lack of interest. After all these not exactly high points of Islamic craft, but I think that they are legitimate ethnographic items and they are fun to collect. Why? Because of the large variety of types and materials, including recycled "modern" materials like early plastics, electrical wires etc. Few devoted local collectors in Israel own hundreds of them which they bought for nearly nothing, including many old and unique examples. We do try to get more information on their history and development, but sources are lacking
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Old 20th January 2017, 07:40 PM   #4
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Hey Motan,

I have been following your contributions with great interest and like you, I struggle with the lack of material. Shibriyas are usually simple, but some examples are quite nice. Is it the size or the blade that makes a dagger a shibriya? Arabs in all regions that use shibriyas (more wide spread than the levant) define it by the size. While Western collectors I notice to define it by blade type.

I like your older examples, rarely find them lately.
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Old 20th January 2017, 10:48 PM   #5
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Hi A.alnakkas,
Thanks for your sympathetic post. Unfortunately, I have no real answers. Shibr or shiber is an old Arab length unit denoting the distance between the tip of the pink and the tip of the thumb when the hand palm is fully spreat. This avarages 20cm (just under 8 inch). It is said that the name shibriya originates from this distance. While this could be true, it does not make practical sense because in most shibriyas the blade is shorter than 20cm, but the whole dagger is longer. Perhaps when the name stuck to the dagger, avarage blade length was 20cm, but even early shibriyas by the same maker vary greatly in size, as you can see above.
Shibriya is a name, not a definition, so like in most daggers, there is no absolute truth. Bedouin daggers with recurve blade are called shibriya by both collectors and local people. There are some mixed dharia/shibriya types from the Hijaz, but I don't know how local called them. There are also some mixed forms in from Syria. I think that all Syrian dagger are caller khanjar-the generic name for dagger in arabic. Other shibriya-like daggers from Palestine and also those from Majdal Shams are also called khanjar by local people (not jambiya, as they are often reffered to by collectors).
In photographs predating WWI, bedouin (bedu) carry daggers similar to the shibriya, but with specific curved blade shape that is popular in other daggers from the same period and area. I don't know how they were called. This rather lengthy post sumarizes what I know. I added some examples and old photos of this latter shibriya precursor type.
Regards, Eytan
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Old 21st January 2017, 12:58 AM   #6
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Dog-leg.
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Old 21st January 2017, 12:16 PM   #7
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Wink Dog-leg

Thanks Ariel. Dog-leg it is. Dog-leg blade is also the tell tale sign of older Majdalis between late 19th century and WWI.
Disk and ring on the pommel are typical of pre-shibriyas as well as early shibriyas, and went out of fashion around 1940. One or two sub-types kept producing pommel rings even later.
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Old 28th January 2017, 02:37 PM   #8
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Default Another Shibriya

Hello Motan, I would like to thank you for posting this interesting thread about Shibriyas. I have a few in my collection and have never really been able to find out much detail about them such as age, which particular tribes carried them, are they a general purpose or fighting weapon or both, where did the design originate from etc etc.?

I don't understand why there is so little information about them it would appear that have been under the radar or the experts have not thought them worthy enough to study, I personally find them a very interesting and deadly weapon having its own unique shape.

Having searched through my own reference books the only one which mentioned this dagger was Elgood`s Arms and Armour of Arabia and this was only quoting someone else who had commented that some tribes in northern Arabia carried a short, narrow knife. The knife being a shibriya and a tribe called Rwala all very vague and no illustrations or photos despite there being dozens of Jambiya and Khanjar illustrations, why none of the Shibriya, I don't understand.

I have taken the liberty of showing some pics of my Shimbriyas and would be grateful for your comments as I know next to nothing about them.

Their O/Ls without scabbard vary between 11 and 11.75 ins.

No 1:- Very plain but I feel it to be an old one?

No 2:- Still very plain with some decoration on the hilt. Again I have a feeling that this may be an old one. I think that the pommel is also interesting having not seen one on other Shimbriyas.

No 3:- this is more decorative and modern having the date of 1370 AH on the blade which I think equates to 1950/51 AD.

No 4:- Again more decorative and modern possibly similar date to No 3?

No 5:- Very decorative with the date 1900? on the blade. I am not sure if this is a date or something else as the style seems to be more modern.


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Old 28th January 2017, 02:41 PM   #9
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Shabriya N0 5.
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Old 28th January 2017, 06:37 PM   #10
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Miguel,
I would be interested to know what the coin is on your shibriya no.5.
Regards
Richard
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Old 28th January 2017, 10:01 PM   #11
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Hi Miguel, Thanks for asking. I will comment on them one by one and that will take a while. I am not a very good expert on the subject, so don't take my comments as the truth but as an opinion.
As for the general lack of information, I think that shibriyas were not valued because they were primitive relative to other weapons from the surrounding areas (Syria for example), were low-grade workmanship and relatively recent. However, at least up to 1960, they were made mainly for local use and were carried by local tribesmen as well as by the soldiers of the Arab Legion. Even today, some bedouin wear them for festive or official occasions (like my good friend A'wad from the Azazme). Therefore, they are authentic ethnographic weapons and deserve at least some recognition. As for their use, they are definately weapons and not utility knifes (despite claims of the opposite) simply because they are shaped like pure stabbing weapons and are not much good for anything else. Like all Middle Eastern daggers, they are also man's juwelry and a symbol of manhood.

No. 1-Definately the oldest of the lot. Probably made in Jordan where the majority of shibriyas were made. This shape of pommel is known, but not very common. The long and relatively narrow blade is a sign of older ones (thanks Artzi). I would say it is from the late 1920's or from the 1930's. In pic 1 and 2, I show similar ones
No. 2-The most difficult to place and date for me. The style bears resemblance to a known type shown in pic 3. I believe that this one (as well as my example) are the only ones of the lot of Palestinian origin. I base this on the style of decoration on the scabbard which is definately Palestinian. The age is difficult to gues because I recognize stages only in the more common Jordanian types.
The rest tommorow. Eytan
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Old 29th January 2017, 01:41 AM   #12
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There is a guy in Latvia named Denis Cherevichnik who is into history of knife fights around the world ( he even wrote a big book about it with deep analysis of literally hundreds of historical sources in several languages and spanning several centuries).

He published an article ( in Russian, unfortunately for most of the Forumites) about Sica, a dog-leg curved Roman ( or Dacian) dagger. To make the long story short, he makes connection between Sica and Shibria. Indeed, they look virtually identical. Whether it is a case of parallel development or of some atavistic feature is uncertain, but the idea is intriguing.
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Old 29th January 2017, 05:13 AM   #13
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This may be weaker than a hypothesis, but upon examining shibriya blades, I always get the impression that it is a crude imitation of the khanjar curve that eventually gave way to this type.
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Old 29th January 2017, 01:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G
Miguel,
I would be interested to know what the coin is on your shibriya no.5.
Regards
Richard


Hello Richard, I don't honestly know what the coin is but will try to find out.
Regards
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Old 29th January 2017, 01:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motan
Hi Miguel, Thanks for asking. I will comment on them one by one and that will take a while. I am not a very good expert on the subject, so don't take my comments as the truth but as an opinion.
As for the general lack of information, I think that shibriyas were not valued because they were primitive relative to other weapons from the surrounding areas (Syria for example), were low-grade workmanship and relatively recent. However, at least up to 1960, they were made mainly for local use and were carried by local tribesmen as well as by the soldiers of the Arab Legion. Even today, some bedouin wear them for festive or official occasions (like my good friend A'wad from the Azazme). Therefore, they are authentic ethnographic weapons and deserve at least some recognition. As for their use, they are definately weapons and not utility knifes (despite claims of the opposite) simply because they are shaped like pure stabbing weapons and are not much good for anything else. Like all Middle Eastern daggers, they are also man's juwelry and a symbol of manhood.

No. 1-Definately the oldest of the lot. Probably made in Jordan where the majority of shibriyas were made. This shape of pommel is known, but not very common. The long and relatively narrow blade is a sign of older ones (thanks Artzi). I would say it is from the late 1920's or from the 1930's. In
pic 1 and 2, I show similar ones
No. 2-The most difficult to place and date for me. The style bears resemblance to a known type shown in pic 3. I believe that this one (as well as my example) are the only ones of the lot of Palestinian origin. I base this on the style of decoration on the scabbard which is definately Palestinian. The age is difficult to gues because I recognize stages only in the more common Jordanian types.
The rest tommorow. Eytan


Hello Motan, Thank you for your interesting and enlightening comments and look forward to reading the rest when you have the time. One thing I should point out is that the pics are not in the order I posted them as they seem to have gotten mixed up. The first set of 3 pics is No 2 of my script, the second set is No 1, the third set is No 4, the fourth set is No 3 and the fith set of four pics is correct. I apologise for the mix up but I don't know how it happened.
Regards
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Old 29th January 2017, 01:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
There is a guy in Latvia named Denis Cherevichnik who is into history of knife fights around the world ( he even wrote a big book about it with deep analysis of literally hundreds of historical sources in several languages and spanning several centuries).

He published an article ( in Russian, unfortunately for most of the Forumites) about Sica, a dog-leg curved Roman ( or Dacian) dagger. To make the long story short, he makes connection between Sica and Shibria. Indeed, they look virtually identical. Whether it is a case of parallel development or of some atavistic feature is uncertain, but the idea is intriguing.


Hello Ariel, Interesting idea worth looking into.
Regards
Miguel
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Old 29th January 2017, 02:02 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
This may be weaker than a hypothesis, but upon examining shibriya blades, I always get the impression that it is a crude imitation of the khanjar curve that eventually gave way to this type.


I can see where you are coming from as the same thoughts had occurred to me but I'm not at all certain that this is the case. Incidentally does any of the script on the blades of No`s 3 & 5 make any sense to you.

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Old 29th January 2017, 03:22 PM   #18
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Lotfy,

It is not as simple. Google Sica Images and look at old excavated examples. They are "dog-leg", unlike gently curving khanjars. The unusual form of shibriya is deliberate and without an analogue anywhere else, except for Sica:-)

Please recall Judean "sicarii" around the time of Roman destruction of Second Temple. History has quite a lot of unusual twists and we might be wise to keep snippets of strange occurencies in the back of our collective mind. Of course, the connection between the two is nebulous and has no proof. But who knows? Sooner or later we might find actual facts confirming or refuting this hypothesis.
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Old 29th January 2017, 03:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miguel
I apologise for the mix up but I don't know how it happened.


Hi Miguel,

when you load up every picture separate the come in the order you wish!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 29th January 2017, 09:32 PM   #20
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Hi all,
Thanks for all your comments. I didn't expect this thread to raise much interest, but I am happy to be wrong.
Ariel, your theory is the stuff of legends..but that is what I think it is. There is so much time between the Romans and WWI and so little evidence that I don't think it is plausible. Re-curve blades are found mainly in Indian weapons, like Khanjarli and they are more likely source of inspiration. Perhaps the need to make those pointy dog-leg daggers into more effective stabbing weapons lead the smiths to turn the point forward in line with the hilt? Who knows.
Early photos of bedouins show many swords, but few daggers. Perhaps the popularity of daggers was caused by a change in the way of fighting. A sword is cumbersome for a dismounted fighter with a modern rifle as main weapon.
Miguel, nevermind the mixup in the photos. The order works fine for me and I will keep it.
The last group of 3 shibriyas are all one family. This type was made in large quantities between the early 1940's and the early 1960' in workshops around Amman, Jordan. These are the most typical and well known types of shibriya. What I say is not speculation because many are dated and signed. Number 4 in the current order is dated to 1370 Hijri date, about 1951, and number 5 is date to 1955 in arabic numbers and Gregorian date. Hijri dates are quite uncommon. Most have Gregorian dates. This is true for all dated daggers from the region after the end of Ottoman rule. It could be because of the souvenier trade, or maybe because they started to use Gregorian dates for daily purposes.
No 3 looks a bit older and has a less common pommel shape. The flat, straight-end pommel of 4 and 5 is the most common for the 1950' and early 60'. You can see the similarity of the simple decoration between 3 and 4, especially on the hilt. The multiple wire decorations on the scabbard, the little rings in 5, the gold color decorations on the hilt of 4 and the coin IMPRESSIONS are all recurrent elements of the period. These impressions were made by laying the metal sheet over the coin and pressing with softer material such as wood. Iraqi coins were most popular and this one in 5 could be of king Ghazi/Faisal of Iraq who ruled from 1933 to 1939. A possible candidate is this silver 20 Fils from 1938. I don't read Arabic, but I could ask someone to read and translate the writing. Lastly, the circle with writing on the blade, as well images of pigeons indicate Jordenian origin, even on early pieces like the beatiful example in picture 2.
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Old 30th January 2017, 01:10 AM   #21
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Moran,
This is emphatically not MY theory. This was taken from Denis' article. The ownership is his, and his alone.

I agree with your objections, the connection is highly implausible. But I would still give Denis the benefit of the doubt. He researches his subjects carefully and is definitely not a blowhard.

Hopefully, at some stage of the game he may want to revisit his idea ( not even "a theory" that requires at least a modicum of factual information) and give us a more definitive answer.
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Old 30th January 2017, 07:34 AM   #22
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Default To Ariel

Hi Ariel, you are right of course. It was late and I did use my words a bit loosely. Denis' idea is a hypothesis and not a theory and I only meant that it was yours because you brought it up, eventhough you did not give an indication that you actually support it. But I am not a moran . There are hardley any bedouin daggers that were made before 1900 and survived. They are not very sturdy and were discarded when out of use. Many shibriyas found in local souks are in very poor shape. This, together with the lack of written sources, make it highly unlikely to find any evidense supporting Denis' idea. In my view, shibriyas are a local type with very humble beginnings (see picture) made in small towns bordering the Syrian desert/Negev/Sinai to the needs and imagination of local users, but this idea is only based on observation and deduction from scant evidence.
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Old 30th January 2017, 07:48 AM   #23
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Hi Miguel, I hope you are not too dissapointed by my comment. You have a nice group of shybriyas representing both the hay day of shibriyas making with two older and rarer types. You were also right about most of them. They are all in very good shape, which is not that common. In short, a good representative group.
Eytan
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Old 30th January 2017, 06:38 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motan
Hi Miguel, I hope you are not too dissapointed by my comment. You have a nice group of shybriyas representing both the hay day of shibriyas making with two older and rarer types. You were also right about most of them. They are all in very good shape, which is not that common. In short, a good representative group.
Eytan


Hello Eytan,
Far from it, indeed, I am more than pleased with your input for which I am very grateful and think you underestimate your knowledge of this type of dagger. I wondered if the date was 1955 but I didn't know that the dates may be a mixture of Gregorian and Arabic so was confused. thank you again for your input.
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Old 30th January 2017, 06:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G
Miguel,
I would be interested to know what the coin is on your shibriya no.5.
Regards
Richard


Hi Richard,

Eyetan has kindly answered your question in his latest reply.
Regards
Miguel
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Old 1st February 2017, 06:07 PM   #26
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Yes, and it all makes sense.
Thank you Miguel and Eytan.
Best wishes
Richard
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Old 2nd February 2017, 07:43 AM   #27
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Here is a link to another early example, sadly no longer with me.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=shibriya
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Old 2nd February 2017, 12:09 PM   #28
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Default The missing link?

Thanks Stuart for posting this link.
Previosly in this thread, I suggested that shibriyas with the characteristic recurve blade developed out of similar daggers with dog-leg blade around WWI. The shibriya in Stuart's link is from around that time (the seals connected are 1902 and 1914) and has an intermediate blade shape. Therefore, it could be seen as a kind of missing link between dog-leg and re-curve blades. I know reality is more complex than that, but still..
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Old 2nd February 2017, 02:54 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hi Miguel,

when you load up every picture separate the come in the order you wish!

Regards,
Detlef


Hello Detlef, I am sorry for the delayed reply but I missed your post completely till now. Wished I had seen it sooner as I have just made the same mistake again I will remember next time. Thanks for pointing it out.
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