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Old 7th December 2012, 10:22 AM   #1
figs999
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Default Curious Tuareg "Telek Dagger?"

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on this forum, but I've been a periodic lurker here for quite some time.

I have in my collection a little dagger that just recently came to my attention. It has been in my possession for about 5 years, and I had no idea that it was authentic. I got it out of a storage unit auction, which was for a unit that had not been visited by its owner for 10+ years, so I knew that it was at least "somewhat" old. My first impression of it was that it had been made by an amateur, since the tooling of the leatherwork and engraving was a bit haphazard.

I just recently found a remarkably similar dagger on an auction site and realized that it was a Tuareg Telek, or at least in the same style as one. The curious parts of this dagger, in my opinion are:

1. The ornate (but somewhat sloppy) embellishments on the scabbard. Other similar examples seem far more plain. This even has a section of engraved silver on the handle.
2. The length of the dagger is unusual. From my understanding, telek are meant to be strapped to the forearm, but this "dagger" is about 2 ft long!
3. The Section of the handle that appears to be fashioned like a Billao handle, using strips of bone/resin/horn spaced with flat bronze spacers. I haven't seen this on any non-Somali weapons. And since the Tuareg are rather far away from Somalia, it seems unlikely for this kind of technique to be used in Tuareg daggers.


I wanted to see if anyone else found this weapon interesting, and if anyone had an explanation for the strange traits that it has. It seems to not quite fit the Telek label, and I wonder if anyone else knows what this could be. If anyone has any input I'd love to hear it.

The dagger also appears to have been used in combat, or was seriously mistreated. There are numerous nicks in the blade, as if it were used to parry blows. I would have thought this would be a stabbing weapon if used in reality, which is why one of my earlier theories was that it had been used as a stage prop. My current guess is that it is 25-50 years old since it looks most like other daggers I have found from that period. Telek older than 100 years don't appear to share the particular scabbard style that is exhibited. I suspect it is possibly towards the older end of that estimate, because the scabbard is lined with undyed felt, instead of a synthetic fiber.

For something sitting at the back of my collection for a long time, I have been very pleased about it's new found authenticity.
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Old 7th December 2012, 02:00 PM   #2
Martin Lubojacky
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Welcome figs999.

I personally consider this as a "belt dagger made by Tuaregs", and I am not sure this could be called Telek (like classical forearm dagger ?!?). I am of the opinion this is contemporary dagger,very often sold to tourists, which does not take from significance or relevance/importance of this dagger and this kind of daggers generally. I saw many such daggers in Sahara from Ghadames to Ghat (Azjer tuaregs ??) - just because I did not visit other parts of Sahara, so very probaly you could find this on another places, too, and some sources assign them to Niger, Woodabe people etc.). This size is relatively common, too, but smaller size is more ordinary.
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Martin
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Old 7th December 2012, 02:13 PM   #3
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http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...ighlight=tureg

WELCOME TO THE FORUM,

HERE IS A LINK TO A OLD POST ON THESE AND A RANGE OF VARIOUS FORMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE TUREG. MOST OF THE ONES SEEN THESE DAYS IN MOROCCO ARE SIMULAR TO THE FIRST EXAMPLE IN THE LINK.
YOUR EXAMPLE IS LARGER THAN WHAT IS USUALLY SEEN IN MOROCCO AND APPEARS TO BE OLDER THAN THE ONES NORMALLY FOUND IN MOROCCO AS WELL AS BEING A BIT DIFFERENT IN FORM AND WITH LESS BLING. THIS MAKES ME THINK IT WAS LESS LIKELY MADE FOR TOURISTS BUT FOR LOCAL USE. I LIKE IT.
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Old 8th December 2012, 12:20 PM   #4
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As Martin and Vandoo have already written - these are contemporary form. I would also not consider it a telek - the traditional arm dagger of the Tuareg.

That does not mean they are not well made an interesting. Yours is a nice example.
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Old 8th December 2012, 01:05 PM   #5
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Hello all,
There's been a big increase in the ammount of these daggers and the modern all leather covered Tuareg swords-these look rather more Klingon with lots of eyelash marks on the blades-of late at the major antique fairs here in the UK. They seem to sell as original old weapons. Maybe somebody is importing them wholesale, a bit like the Congonese masks that appear in droves nowadays.
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Old 8th December 2012, 01:57 PM   #6
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Hi Andy, that's certainly possible. Tuareg leather and metal goods (jewelry etc.) I guess is imported, why not the knives.

This link might be interesting - some of the Senegal knife styles seem to share characteristics with the materials and geometric shapes seen in these Tuareg pieces.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore...d/daggers.aspx
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Old 8th December 2012, 02:43 PM   #7
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Interesting link Iain, a very nice type of dagger, decorative and eye catching. Regarding Tuareg items, there has certainly been an increase in the modern Takoubas in the UK, perhaps due to tourism but I suspect there is a strong market for importers to exploit, after all, ethnic jewelry is I think I'm right in saying, rather popular at the moment and North African designs are very attractive.
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Old 8th December 2012, 04:05 PM   #8
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Hi Andy,

I've seen them imported by various places that specialize on the modern craft side of things - probably doesn't take much for them to drift into the antique markets as swords tend to be assumed to be old.

I would imagine the flow will slow down a bit in the next year due to the general unrest in the areas where these would still be produced. Despite these newer items not being of much interest to me personally, it would be a pity I think for the craft to die out.
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Old 8th December 2012, 04:29 PM   #9
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It would indeed be a sad thing to see the decline or ending of a time honoured craft. We actually saw one of the very new Takoubas sell for a draw dropping 200 at a large antique market. It's nice in a way that people will pay that sort of money but as you say, most likely because the buyer considered the sword to be ancient.
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Old 8th December 2012, 04:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Stevens
It would indeed be a sad thing to see the decline or ending of a time honoured craft. We actually saw one of the very new Takoubas sell for a draw dropping 200 at a large antique market. It's nice in a way that people will pay that sort of money but as you say, most likely because the buyer considered the sword to be ancient.
Huh, only if you are selling.
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Old 8th December 2012, 11:34 PM   #11
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This daggers were acquired in Libyan Sahara, except the upper one, which is from shop. But the lowest one is allegedly from Agadez/Niger by origin. Except the upper one they were used, I would say, for a long time.
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Old 9th December 2012, 12:00 AM   #12
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Another type of Tuareg daggers. Does anybody have experience or knowledge concerning the place of their origin ? They were bought from poor Tuaregs in Ubari Oasis area, but those people said they came from Air in Niger ...
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Old 9th December 2012, 10:57 AM   #13
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Nice daggers Martin.

I've seen all these types before, but I've near really heard much about the different styles and if they represent different groups and locations.

In modern times it always seemed like these styles had become general "Sahel" styles, kind of like Tebu pommels.

Thanks for sharing, I wonder if there are any good sources to read about these? I'm only familiar with the more traditional cross hilted teleks.

Iain
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Old 9th January 2013, 04:03 AM   #14
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A FEW MORE TUREG ITEMS. THREE PICTURES OF WHAT WAS DESCRIBED AS A PARADE SWORD, MID 20TH CENTURY 42INCHES LONG (3 PICTURES) PICTURE OF A DAGGER IN SCABBARD WITH BELT 16.5 IN. LONG. HANDLE DETAIL.
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Old 9th January 2013, 11:29 AM   #15
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Vandoo, the first (i have one) is a tourist knife and the others are very beauty! Congratulations!
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Old 31st January 2013, 09:53 PM   #16
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Hi figs999, enclosed please find photo from a book about Ghat......
Regards,
Martin
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Old 1st February 2013, 08:56 PM   #17
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I have bought recently this one and think that it is as well a contemporary one, correct? It is 51,5 cm complete with a blade length from 31 cm.

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 2nd February 2013, 01:15 PM   #18
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Hi Detlef,

Yes this one is contempary as well. But it looks very nicely made.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 02:12 PM   #19
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Thank you Ian,
the seller stated it is from the 1930/40s but I have thought already that it isn't old like this but like you I like the good workmanship.

Best, Detlef
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Old 15th July 2018, 01:05 PM   #20
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My contribution to the thread. A Telek I bought a couple of years ago... sorry for the quality of the photo's, done on my 'phone.
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Old 15th July 2018, 09:01 PM   #21
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Interesting. I wonder if they were used in an ice-pick grip with the cross protecting the upper side of the hand. My Touareg dagger is much too heavy to carry on the arm, I suspect it was attached to their saddles.
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