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Old 7th April 2019, 02:24 PM   #1
chiefheadknocker
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Default unusual african dagger covered in cowrie shells

This is an unusual dagger ,I presume African , ive never seen one before like this , though im unsure of its age , the blade looks well made,
whats your opinion?
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Old 7th April 2019, 03:20 PM   #2
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Could it be a Bou Saada/Saadi or Khodmi from Algeria that has been decorated with the shells? The blade has almost a flyssa shape.

Not my area of expertise. Wait, I have no expertise!

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Old 7th April 2019, 07:00 PM   #3
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Yes, it's a bou saadi from Algeria like Steve stated. There are other blades from Algeria covered with shells, do a little bit search here and you will find similar knives.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 7th April 2019, 07:11 PM   #4
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While I too claim no expertise, I can easily bang away on this Fisher-Price keyboard and find stuff online. Steve is right, the character of the blade here is of flyssa form, and the general size puts it in the 'khodmi' knife range.

The shells are of course West African cowries, which were used until early 20th century as currency in those regions. While replaced by French currencies, the natives still maintained the amuletic properties of these shells. The markings on flyssa blades are also typically talismanic so the combining of these shells and this blade render this knife, Algerian and West African elements, somewhere in the Mali sphere. I would say 20th c. probably early.
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Old 7th April 2019, 07:33 PM   #5
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Hi
It's a flyssa knife
I don't think it has to do with bou saidi or khodmi knives... There are no evidences for it.
To be sure you have to remove the leather to see the original hilt and scabbard.
Even the shape of the scabbard sheath looks like the flyssa ones.
For an unknown reason the knife was embellished in Senegal with Cowries probably in the 20th c, but the flyssa knife is probably earlier end of 19th c.
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Old 7th April 2019, 08:19 PM   #6
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It does seem like when we enter into these 'hybrid' type pieces, which were inevitable with networks of trade routes which traversed the Sahara, and the movements of tribal groups such as the Berber confederation, the dreaded 'name game' becomes even more impossible.

So reference is made to the Khodami knife or Bou Saadi. .and wondering what that means, I looked to Bou Saada, which is a region south of Algiers, in the M'Sila province. Often weapons are classified by regions they are common in, so that would seem logical.

But this blade is clearly that of the flyssa, the edged weapon of the tribes in Kabylia, a region in the north of Algeria, in area of Tell Atlas mountains and coastal Mediterranean.

Looking into the term Khodami, it perhaps refers to the Khodam or Djinn, Angelic guardians or helpers in Islamic Magick. This is profoundly out of my range of understanding so I cannot elaborate, but I would merely suggest that the term 'khodami' may refer to such properties in these knives.
I would leave further elucidation to the 'experts'.

So what do we call a knife with blade type and other features of the Kabyle flyssa, but embellished with West African cowrie shells, these elements from considerably distant regions?

Here is a knife which is apparently imbued with talismanic properties of two regions and cultural differences, but joined together as a result of the diffusion of influences via probably trade and intertribal contacts.

Should we call it 'khodmi', as it carries notable talismanic character as noted, or Bou Saadi, in accord with knives of similar size from Algerian and Moroccan regions?
Or should we call it 'flyssa' with West African cowrie shells?

Its like having a 1950 Ford Tudor, and dropping in a Corvette '350' engine. Do we call it a 50 Ford; A chevy; or a Corvette?


Attached is a 'Khodmi' or Bou Saada knife. Artzi had a similar knife to that posted in the orig post with cowrie shells and described as 'flyssa knife with cowrie shells'.
Perhaps that would be most reasonable classification as the flyssa blade predominates the entirety of the knife.
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Old 7th April 2019, 08:40 PM   #7
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Thanks for all your replies , and for shredding some light upon it , I didn't have a clue when I bought it ,I just thought it was different , I cant see it being very practical with all the shells , I wondered if it was a tourist piece but the blade does look quite well made
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Old 8th April 2019, 12:52 AM   #8
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Please See http://atkinson-swords.com/collection-by-type/khodmi/ AND https://wilderness-safaris.com/blog/...frican-culture AND place COWRIE SHELLS into search and view the vast array of details>

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Old 8th April 2019, 04:53 PM   #9
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Cowrie shells has been delivered from "Indian Ocean countries" to Africa, especially to Subsaharan Africa, for a very long period of time - till now. Currently they are predominantly used from decorative reasons and -- to attract tourists/buyers. This could also be the case of this dagger with the flyssa style blade.
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Old 8th April 2019, 05:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Lubojacky
Cowrie shells has been delivered from "Indian Ocean countries" to Africa, especially to Subsaharan Africa, for a very long period of time - till now. Currently they are predominantly used from decorative reasons and -- to attract tourists/buyers. This could also be the case of this dagger with the flyssa style blade.
its what i think embellished in Senegal for touristic reasons
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Old 8th April 2019, 05:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
its what i think embellished in Senegal for touristic reasons
Not disagreeing, but just asking, why specifically Senegal? Obviously in the West African sphere, and commerce of course is not confined to one area just are tourism is not, why the flyssa blade?
After the cowries were rendered 'non currency' by French administrators in the early 20th c. the shells retained their 'wealth oriented' attraction as a decorative feature in material culture items such as jewelry and as seen here, weapon decoration.
Interestingly they also retained their amuletic properties as I have seen in some sources.
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Old 9th April 2019, 07:53 PM   #12
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There is a good paper on pre colonial Yaruba land in south west Nigeria ...an account of the use of Cowrie shells far broader than only as currency.
please see http://ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_2_N...er_2012/27.pdf
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Old 9th April 2019, 08:22 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiefheadknocker
This is an unusual dagger ,I presume African , ive never seen one before like this , though im unsure of its age , the blade looks well made,
whats your opinion?
May I ask how long is this dagger?
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Old 9th April 2019, 08:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Attached is a 'Khodmi' or Bou Saada knife.
Hello Jim,

this don't look like a khodmi but like a Corsican dagger!? I am surprised that nobody has noticed this until now.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 9th April 2019, 09:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hello Jim,

this don't look like a khodmi but like a Corsican dagger!? I am surprised that nobody has noticed this until now.

Regards,
Detlef
I was thinking that Jim did it on purpose to push the discussion on the khodmi
as nobody reacted Jim opened a specific thread...
Jim?
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Old 9th April 2019, 10:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
I was thinking that Jim did it on purpose to push the discussion on the khodmi
as nobody reacted Jim opened a specific thread...
Jim?

LOL! Kubur you rascal, you know me too well Actually I did not notice this at first and was pulling a pic out of Pininterest pretty randomly, and this was in the mix. When I was privately advised this was probably the Corsican brother, I thought I'd just leave it, pretty much to see if anyone else noticed. Detlef astutely did.
I hadn't thought of the 'khodmi' matter until after that, but after I did some research began to wonder about this 'other' term for 'Bou Saadi' knives, and started a new thread so as not to derail this one.

Also, in my research I found that the Corsican and Genwi 'vendetta' knives were noted as a possible influence on these 'Bou Saadi' types, so the connection seemed viable.

Just as Detlef observed, he was surprised nobody had noticed this faux pas, I was surprised that nobody over the past years had questioned the 'other' term for the Bou Saadi knives. .it seemed worth a thread of its own.

Thanks guys for the observations, very astute indeed on all counts.
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Old 10th April 2019, 05:21 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
May I ask how long is this dagger?
Hi there ,the total measurement is 40 cm , blade alone is 24 cm
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Old 10th April 2019, 08:16 PM   #18
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Here another cowrie shell decorated scabbard. The details at http://ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_2_...ber_2012/27.pdf are amazing. See also https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/mag...vh9/index.html for the story of monetary systems in East Africa..
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Old 10th April 2019, 11:55 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiefheadknocker
Hi there ,the total measurement is 40 cm , blade alone is 24 cm
In this case Kubur is correct, it's a short flyssa knife!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 10th April 2019, 11:59 PM   #20
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Here you can see similar ones: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...=flyssa+cowrie & http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=11836
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Old 11th April 2019, 10:48 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
as always


But I realy don't know if the cowries were added for local use and local taste or for touristic taste and market...
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Old 11th April 2019, 04:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
its what i think embellished in Senegal for touristic reasons

Thank you Detlef for the input and links.....clearly you and Kubur are right.....it is a flyssa, but decorated with the cowries. In the 2012 discussion you linked the same decoration seems to have wide popularity and on varying examples. I see Dom put in some great overview on the use of these shells and that Alain Jacob's book has some of this decoration from Senegal (Kubur now I see why you had specified that location). I have the book but have not see it for some time now.
Nicely done guys, thank you!!!
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Old 11th April 2019, 06:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
as always

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Old 6th October 2021, 11:43 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi View Post
Here another cowrie shell decorated scabbard. The details at http://ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_2_...ber_2012/27.pdf are amazing.
The thread is a bit older, but can someone tell me something about the origin of this knife posted by Ibrahiim?
I have a similar one, sold as coming from Uganda, but I have also seen specimens that have been ascribed to the Yoruba (Nigeria).
Does anyone know the link given here completely?
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Old 7th October 2021, 11:09 AM   #25
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Peter, posting a picture of your knife would be helpful. Ian
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Old 7th October 2021, 12:06 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Peter, posting a picture of your knife would be helpful. Ian
Hello Ian, here is a picture of my knife. It looks almost the same.
I have already seen several of these knives, always with a blade made of flat steel and without a cutting edge.
To me it looks like tourist copies from the same workshop or at least from a very limited area.
But I have no idea where exactly. The cowrie shells at least indicate that it is close to the sea, but I don't know how far they are traded inland.
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Old 7th October 2021, 12:28 PM   #27
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On closer inspection you can see that the handle of Ibrahiim's copy is carved in more detail than mine. Perhaps an original historical blade is hidden in the scabbard.

I hope that Ibrahiim will read along, maybe he can hand in a photo of his blade.
(And correct the broken link from ijhssnet.com)
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Old 7th October 2021, 02:56 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter B. View Post
On closer inspection you can see that the handle of Ibrahiim's copy is carved in more detail than mine. Perhaps an original historical blade is hidden in the scabbard.

I hope that Ibrahiim will read along, maybe he can hand in a photo of his blade.
(And correct the broken link from ijhssnet.com)
This knife posted by Peter B. and the similar one posted by Ibrahim Al Balooshi are both crude modern items produced in bulk for the tourist trade. I would guess they are made in West Africa somewhere.
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Old 14th October 2021, 09:32 AM   #29
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Here is another example of these mass-produced knives.
Image courtesy of the Auktionshaus am See in Konstanz.
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