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Old 1st February 2009, 11:32 AM   #1
katana
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Default Bollock / Ballock dagger

Hi,
this finished recently on ePay ....looks authentic . The listing mentions 'rune' type markings ....wondered whether anyone had any ideas to their symbolism and, whether this is genuine.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI....:MEWA:IT&ih=019

Kind Regards David
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Old 1st February 2009, 02:05 PM   #2
kisak
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Odd looking one, and a ballocks dagger in the 17th century? Blade looks rather like a ground down smallsword to me (or possibly a bayonet), but perhaps it's too wide for that if it's a 13" blade? No idea about the rune-like decorations, not traditional Nordic runes at least.
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Old 1st February 2009, 02:30 PM   #3
Pukka Bundook
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I don't know David,
I think someone might have been playing.....
Might be wrong.... they say ther's a first time for everything!!



Is the hilt ivory?
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Old 1st February 2009, 04:56 PM   #4
David
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook
I don't know David,
I think someone might have been playing.....
Might be wrong.... they say ther's a first time for everything!!



Is the hilt ivory?

Well, i'm not so sure that someone was "playing", but i don't think this is exactly what it is being presented as either. Just a guess, but i think that this dagger was sort of pieced together to serve as a ritual dagger for someone whose lodge may have included Norse elements. The "runes" (a couple of them don't appear in any runic alphabets ) are rather crudely scratched in to the bone. The scabbard has something in Roman alphabet that i cannot read that appears magickal in it's presentation. There also appears to be the remnants of a snake that goes up the scabbard. Ritualists often choose to make there own tools or adapt pre-existing ones to the task by adorning them with the appropriate symbols. This could be a 19th century adaptation of a somewhat older blade.
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Old 1st February 2009, 07:13 PM   #5
Jim McDougall
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"Kensington" dagger??

"...is this a dagger I see before me, art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation.
I see thee yet, in form as palpable as this which I now draw".
Shakespeare, "Macbeth", II , i
This appears to be a representation of the fabled 'dudgeon' dagger of medieval times whose very nature seemed to lend well to mystery in literature ,
"...well fare thee, haft with the dudgeon dagger".
Stanyhurst, "Virgil" (1583)

and further in "Macbeth";
"... and on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood".

Dudgeon was an archaic term for 'buxeum' (boxwood), a yellowish root often used to hilt Scottish daggers. The most common being the ballock ( revised to 'kidney' dagger by prudish Victorian arms writers).

While early blades are described as having been triangular on these medieval daggers whose ancestry comes from as early as the 14th century ("Daggers and Fighting Knives of the Western World", Harold L.Peterson, N.Y. 1968, pp.27-29) the hollow ground triangular blade here seems to favor, as noted by Kisak, an 18th century smallsword, or possibly a socket bayonet.

The hilt, with the putative runic motif, suggests possible occult associations, as also noted, and while these crudely inscribed figures do not correspond entirely with the known alphabetic characters recorded, it is known that these figures also evolved into sigil like characters in magical parlance. The early runic fugures also often had symbolic meanings of thier own individually beyond thier alphabetic value.
The occult theme seems dramatized by the unusual use of the decagon shaped pommel, the symbolism of which here, remains unclear, but interestingly suggested.
The highly costume like decoration applied to the scabbard includes the serpent, with Norse inference to the early pattern welded blades of swords, as well as its profound occult symbolism. The other jeweled and ornate decoration accents the ceremonial probability intended in this pieces use.

While these somewhat 'gothic' fabrications of the late 19th and early 20th centuries may seem disappointing to many collectors, they do carry a certain mystique and attractiveness of thier own as they have become antiques representing social and cultural groups of historic periods that often focused on neoclassic themes.

Best regards,
Jim

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Old 1st February 2009, 07:54 PM   #6
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Well.
Far be it from me to speak ill of something
but!
The handle is just horrible.
I'm not even sure about the blade. Reminds me a bayonet, not even a small sword.
I know there are plenty of legit Ballock daggers with triangular blades but I wouldn't have invested in this one.
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Old 1st February 2009, 09:08 PM   #7
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Atlantia,

I've got to admire both your class and your restraint. But yeah, that handle is kind of ugly, ain't it?

Here's my dissection.

1) Is there anything to indicate that it's 1700? Hmmm. Not really.

2) Is there anything to indicate it might be later? Well, on the eBay posting, there are those interesting fused "pearls" in the sheath (7 pics down). On the other hand, it's old enough to have lost a bunch of decorative stones, had the leather worn down and picked up a patina. Hmmm. I'd guess it's at least 100 years old, but that's without handling it.

3) what's with that hilt, anyway? Despite what the seller claims, I'm not sure that the outside is wood inlaid with bone. It looks like it might be some sort of resin, with the bone stuck in. I'm not used to wood cracking the way this one is. perhaps it's old pitch? Again, hmmm.

4) The runes. I agree that they're not in a runic alphabet. I also think they were scratched on later, when the blade was assembled, and either by someone with no artistic talent, or by someone using a long knife to scribe the bone, someone who was holding this knife in one hand and the scriber in another, or all three. This certainly doesn't eliminate occult practices, by a long shot, as many occultists aren't great shakes in the art department, and for some ritual reason, someone could have decided to scribe the hilt with a sword or with some other magical tool that wasn't well adapted to the purpose.

5) The pommel. Most European pagans are into four-fold symmetry these days, and I'd expect to see a 4 or 8 sided pommel. Older magic tends towards 12 (as in 12 Olympians, 12 houses in the zodiac, etc). That ten sided starburst is interesting. Could mean that it's old, could mean that the maker liked it and decided to include it. Symbolic? Not in an obvious way.

6) The words on the sheath. Here's the weird one. Look at the eighth picture in the line, which I've copied below and rotated 90 degrees (hope the seller doesn't mind the reposting). To my eyes, that sure looks like "M NI PADME HUM" as in "OM MANI PADME HUM." What do you guys think? If I'm right, that's a really ODD thing to find on the sheath of a 17th century GERMAN dagger. Not impossible, of course, but... come on. That's the english transliteration of a mantra from Buddhism, specifically of the boddhisatva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara (who is thought to be incarnated in the Dalai Lama, by the way). Interesting how it's connected with some sort of snake-like design. Even more interesting that it's on a knife sheath.

I'd suspect that it's a younger piece, perhaps from the end of the 19th Century, but not later than c. 1950. This is based on the materials (I get suspicious about resin-coated handles and odd fake "pearls"), and the lack of modern occult symbolism. I can believe that it's some occultist's object, given the runes, the mantra, the overall quality of construction, etc. Whoever made it is pretty obviously not a Buddhist, and pretty obviously not a runemaster either.

My 0.0002 cents,

F
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Old 1st February 2009, 09:28 PM   #8
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Absolutely outstanding forensics Fearn!!! It would seem we're on the same page!

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 2nd February 2009, 01:01 AM   #9
Pukka Bundook
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I still don't know, but to me it looks like a re-worked Russian Nagant bayonet attached to a handle with the knob off a drawer as a pommel.

Quite willing to admit I don't know what I'm talking about though.....
Fearn's analysis is Much more persuasive!!
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Old 2nd February 2009, 03:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fearn
5) The pommel. Most European pagans are into four-fold symmetry these days, and I'd expect to see a 4 or 8 sided pommel. Older magic tends towards 12 (as in 12 Olympians, 12 houses in the zodiac, etc). That ten sided starburst is interesting. Could mean that it's old, could mean that the maker liked it and decided to include it. Symbolic? Not in an obvious way.

6) The words on the sheath. Here's the weird one. Look at the eighth picture in the line, which I've copied below and rotated 90 degrees (hope the seller doesn't mind the reposting). To my eyes, that sure looks like "M NI PADME HUM" as in "OM MANI PADME HUM." What do you guys think? If I'm right, that's a really ODD thing to find on the sheath of a 17th century GERMAN dagger. Not impossible, of course, but... come on. That's the english transliteration of a mantra from Buddhism, specifically of the boddhisatva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara (who is thought to be incarnated in the Dalai Lama, by the way). Interesting how it's connected with some sort of snake-like design. Even more interesting that it's on a knife sheath.

10 would be a very significant number to a Qabalist (the number of sephiroth on the Tree of Life). Alan Bennett is one very famous occultist who fancied himself a Buddhist. Buddhist and Hindu thought was also deeply ingrained in the practice of late 19th - early 20th century ceremonial lodges such as the Golden Dawn and it's splinter groups. Yoga was a part of the training in many of these lodges. Norse mythology, not so much, but really there have been very many magickal freelancers over the last century or so that tend towards the eclectic side, so strict adherence to one groups particular dogma is not really necessary to consider this a legitimate occult ritual weapon. I'm guessing this was someone's "homemade" ritual dagger pieced together and adorned to agree with one person's particular believe system. Agreed, it's not quite as pretty as it could be, though i'll bet it looked better once. Still percise carvings and perfect decorations would not have been the point (pun intended ) I have to agree with Jim, that while it ain't want some might want it to be it certainly is what it is and that in itself is pretty interesting and, i dare say, collectable.
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Old 2nd February 2009, 03:14 AM   #11
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Those 'bone' scales are about the right thickness to be recycled piano keys .
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Old 2nd February 2009, 04:48 AM   #12
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Thanks David,

I'd forgotten about the Sephiroth. That does make sense to some degree. Just for the record, I happen to agree with you and Jim.

I'd add that those "runes" could be some sort of kabalistic signs. I'm not familiar enough with the Kabbala to hazard a guess there. Since a good chunk of the Golden Dawn's material is published on line, I'm pretty sure it's not one of their pieces. They tend to go in for Hebrew inscriptions, if I recall correctly, along with strongly colored pieces.

Otherwise, I think we're pretty much in agreement that it's not a 17th Century bollock dagger, and that it's probably someone's homemade occult tool. Good enough for me.

Best,

F
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