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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Help identifying Middle Eastern dagger Reply to topic
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Christine Roberts

Joined: 01 Aug 2018

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PostPosted: Fri 03 Aug, 2018 6:31 am    Post subject: Help identifying Middle Eastern dagger         Reply with quote


I have a dagger that my sister bought for me at an auction and I was wondering if you could identify it for me--what it is specifically, where it might be from, the time period, if there is anything noteworthy in the markings, if it was ceremonial or not, etc. Based on my initial Googling, I'm guessing it is a Jambiya dagger, but if I am incorrect, please let me know!

Thank you in advance!

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David Cooper

Location: UK
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 12:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it could be a Moroccan Koummya Dagger. Blade sharpened on both edges. The blade seems a little crude so probably a tourist piece but may still have a bit of age to it. Early to mid 20th century? Better experts will probably correct me on this.
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Mark Moore

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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 5:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you are close to right, David. I've seen several examples of these 'tourist' knives in my time. One original is made, then casts are taken, then the parts are reproduced by the dozens. This example is a particularly nice one though. Happy .....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is indeed a koummya, from Morocco, and actually a slightly interesting example.

More photos of the blade, and any possible markings (they would be very near the grip if present --though it is unlikely there are any), would be useful. The piece is (early) 20th century, and most likely not a tourist piece originally (the blade also looks earlier, 19th century). There are a few ways to tell, but basically, the dagger was worn crosswise across the body from the right shoulder to the left hip, with the point of the blade pointing forward (the dagger was drawn and held in a hook fashion), the inside portion of the scabbard being close to the body, was typically smooth. On most of the tourist versions, the 'inside' is and was decorated to make the daggers not look unfinished.

Simple as this sort of thing sounds, it actually really does differentiate, as early on, the 'tourist' pieces were not exactly 'fakes' they were simply sold to fit a different market --hence more flash, coloured stones. fake diamonds, etc. The tourist blades are also most commonly etched, and never typically brought to a sharp edge, which this one seems to be. There is occasionally a bit of mix and match, old blades re-mounted into tourist scabbards/fittings, etc.

The difference between a 'tourist' koummya and a 'real' koummya is interesting as they were often made in the same timeframe and the 'real' koummya's often have as shoddy/poor workmanship as the 'tourist' examples --sometimes less, and yet the 'real' examples are indeed worth considerably more!

Aesthetically, photographically, though you will have to test in person --the scabbard/fittings appear to possibly be silver (not tin) mounted. This adds significantly to the value if it is indeed true. You will need to figure this out in person, however! It is clearly stamped rather than engraved, which reduces value (this is also what indicates to me that it is 20th [early] rather than 19th century). The cord could be silk or nylon.. if it is silk, it is presumably original.. if it is nylon it is a recent addition (you can test this by lighting a tiny portion of the fringe and seeing if it melts or burns).

The handle appears to be camel, and I am guessing shin bone. This and the shape (not flared with a peacock tail shape, more common to central/north Morocco and the Ouaouizeght region).. I am guessing this is coming from east of Fes down all the way to the south and somewhere nearer to Algeria. It has a certain Berber quality to the straight handle. This is just a guess/feeling though from the photos.

In terms of value, you have a lot of conflicting information depending on the various tests suggested above... and depending on your location. These tend to sell for less in Europe than in the USA, due to volume. That being said, the range is not particularly wide. I would say $150-300 depending on the above factors.


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Eric S

Location: new orleans
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2018 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No signs of wear that I can it is new unless I am missing something.
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Christine Roberts

Joined: 01 Aug 2018

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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2018 5:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow! Thank you, everyone, for your informative replies! Once I Googled Koummya, that did match up more than what I had originally thought.

I have added more pictures of the blade--and then I noticed the bottom part of the decoration slid a bit. If the blade appears to be original, I can see how it would've been fitted into a 'tourist' handle. The blade is sharp, but this is really only once you get to the tip. My sister mentioned the blade was covered completely in rust, and she tried to clean it the best she could before she gave it to me.

As for the rope, I cut a small piece off and it burned fairly quickly, so I suspect nylon.

If different/more pictures are required, please let me know!

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