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Old 7th December 2020, 10:29 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 1,385

Well written and researched post Yvain. Information on giles and billaos tends to be scarce, with some examples shown in Tirri's books and a brief mention in Spring in the chapter on the horn of Africa. You have done a terrific job of finding a period photo of such a hybrid knife and narrowing down the geographic area of its origin to Djibouti or its surrounds and more precisely the Issa tribe, as well as the time period to the early 20th century.

History is full of examples of military enemies adopting weapon forms from each other despite strong animosity, so it should not be that surprising that such hybrid knives with a billao hilt and a curved gile blade would occur. The chap in the leopard skin on the photo you found is wearing what we would call a gile, so it appears the hilt came down to a matter of personal preference.
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