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Old 15th February 2022, 11:10 AM   #1
Yvain
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Default Two new acquisitions from Somalia

Hi everyone!


Just wanted to share those two new acquisitions, a billao, and some kind of gile-billao hybrid. Both are rather recent (second part of the 20th century?) but still are interesting imo.


The billao is, I guess, the older of the two. It has a nice cast aluminium grip with a brass insert. The blade is nicely made, with a simple fuller, but was carefully polished and is still pretty sharp; I actually think that it was forged and not just cut out of a steel plate. It came with a nice red leather tooled sheath. I donít know if it was used in situ, but it is a cool little knife.


The gile-billao hybrid is more recent I think, and Iím not sure it was ever used considering how dull the edges are. I believe the blade was cut out and filed from an older piece of steel (there is some defects in the metal, suggesting it isnít modern steel). The handle is rather original in shape and materials, with a brass guard and pommel, and what I think is some type of vulcanized rubber (?) for the grip. Even if it probably wasnít ever used, it is still an interesting witness of the evolution of traditional Somalian shapes in the later decades of the 20th century.
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Old 15th February 2022, 05:05 PM   #2
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Hi Yvain,

I think these daggers are called tooray daggers, see this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...ghlight=tooray

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 15th February 2022, 05:30 PM   #3
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Thanks Detlef!



As usual, the name game can be tricky! I thought "tooray" only referred to this type of dagger with a fin like grip, but I can definitely see the similarity. At the same time, the influence from the billao and gile are undeniable and does blur the line between those different types of Somalian daggers.



(Attached, a picture of my Somalian collection at the moment with a classic billao (left) and gile (right) with some "in-betweens" in the middle)
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Old 15th February 2022, 05:39 PM   #4
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Nice Somalia collection!
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Old 16th February 2022, 12:27 PM   #5
Martin Lubojacky
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Hi,

I'm afraid sometimes we have been creating imaginary categories in areas we have little information about....

From my point of view there are few credible resp. seriously verifiable information from the field and information documented by photo documentation re. these knives. In addition, their types / variations have also been evolving (I have visited the same areas in Ethiopia within 23 years time frame - shapes, sizes, materials are changing. Also some heavy, large types known cca 70n years ago have disappeared totally, small, working (and less conspicuous) versions have appeared).

The range of these types of knives is, in my opinion (of course I could be wrong), is used in northeastern Ethiopia around Hargeisa and in the area of Somaliland.
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Old 16th February 2022, 12:29 PM   #6
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-- I meant the first two knives from the beginning of the thread
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Old 16th February 2022, 03:21 PM   #7
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Martin and Yvain,

I am far from an expert for this area, I only remembered to have seen these type of knives here before and searched for the thread I've given in up.
Equal how you would call them, they are most intersting and made until now like Martin stated. I like them.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 16th February 2022, 09:00 PM   #8
Yvain
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Thanks guys! 🙂



Interestingly, I found this : https://m.quaibranly.fr/fr/explorer-...urreau/page/1/ in the Quai Branly collections. According to the database, it was collected before 1936, which makes me wonder if my aluminium grip billao might be older than I thought...
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Old 18th February 2022, 12:53 AM   #9
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Another similar Somali knife dating to at least 1935 from the British Museum..

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collec...1935-1108-48-a

These seem to have been popular around pre-war and certainly are still made today.
Attached is a photo from Italian Somaliland during World War II and another of one in my collection.

-Geoff
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Old 18th February 2022, 10:05 AM   #10
Martin Lubojacky
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Geoff, Thank you for sending an important (at least for me) photo! The British Museum knife allocation is also interesting (Ogaden is part of Ethiopia and Darod lives along the border (if my memory still serves orrectly)
Martin
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