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Thread: Opinions on this Khanjar?

  1. #1
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    Opinions on this Khanjar?

    Found this at a pawn shop today. I dont think its old, maybe just a tourist peice. But it looked nice as an art object. Just wanted to see what you guys thought about it. I know it was a vet bring back from Iraq.





  2. #2
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    my educated guess is that it was from Yemen and sold as a tourist knife in Iraq, (I have a few like this that I bought in Iraq and Afghanistan) however you will find men in Yemen wearing these, it is sort of part of the national garb. There the knife is called jambiya

    here is an NPR story on them http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...oryId=94979969
    The butt and 'gaurd' are not typical of the shapes I have seen and most have small silver medallions on the flat sides not doomed brass medallions on all four sides. the steel and blade shape look typical, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing bad, nothing 'really good' either

    If I had seen it I would have bought it myself.

    Icepick; I liked pawn shops before Pawn Stars was on TV

  3. #3
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    Hello,

    As David have said, this a tourist piece.

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys. A rare time I'm ok to hear that. Cant wait to get it framed and up on the wall.

  5. #5
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    If it helps, its not that far off from the every day Jambiyas you would find men wearing in Yemen. The scabbed on yours is very nice and has some very good metal work. Even on a 'good' Jambiay the metal work on the scabbard is plates glued on. On that note, you may want to peal them off and re glue with a better glue. You might also want to look for one of the belts that these are tucked in to, some are very nice with fancy embroidery, bead and metal work on them

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel J. View Post
    Thanks guys. A rare time I'm ok to hear that. Cant wait to get it framed and up on the wall.
    Its not that bad at all. It still have good workmanship on it and these tourist items are a mercy compared to other stuff.

  7. #7
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    Ok guys. Went back to the shop and bought the other 2 he had. First is pretty much the same blade wise as my first one. But the second seems to have more age to it. The blade is thick and very heavy. It has old looking black rust and the handle is horn. Thoughts on these 2?






  8. #8
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    The second one is nice, looks like good steel too

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    my educated guess is that it was from Yemen and sold as a tourist knife in Iraq, (I have a few like this that I bought in Iraq and Afghanistan) however you will find men in Yemen wearing these, it is sort of part of the national garb. There the knife is called jambiya

    here is an NPR story on them http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...oryId=94979969
    The butt and 'gaurd' are not typical of the shapes I have seen and most have small silver medallions on the flat sides not doomed brass medallions on all four sides. the steel and blade shape look typical, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing bad, nothing 'really good' either

    If I had seen it I would have bought it myself.

    Icepick; I liked pawn shops before Pawn Stars was on TV

    Hi David,

    That is a great article!
    The Jambiya seller always makes me giggle. I can't decide if the cameraman got confused and photographed him with a basic type thinking it was the expensive one of if the seller has a box of '300 year old $25k' Jambiyas under a blanket that he just tries to snag rich tourists with?
    On a side note, it's interesting to note the importance of the belts that these are often tucked into. We can see the seller has a very elaborate, wide embroidered belt. I've heard it said that these used to be hand stitched but that the skill is a dying one.
    It's also worth noting the fact that as these slip in behind the belt, the scabbard mid-section is hidden (so can be plain) instead of being integral to the belt like the large 'whabite' Jambiya or Omani Khanjar.

    As the article says, these are very much eveyday fashion accessories. I've read that men will wander around with a small bag hanging from the hilt (like its a belt hook).

    "Knife-seller Abdullah al Azeri shows off a 300-year-old jambiya dagger that he says is worth more than $25,000. Azeri says his family has been in the knife business for more than 1,000 years."
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 11-15-2011 at 02:31 AM.

  10. #10
    Daniel,

    Looks as though you've managed to snag a good varied selection of these distinctive ethnographic types!
    Congratulations, they will make an excellent display.

    As you can see from the excellent article that David posted, these types can be bought by tourists and locals alike.
    They are such a 'living' part of the national dress that they have continued to 'evolve' and in some cases they are now no longer usable as a weapon.

    To illustrate this, have a look at the three that you have, Look at the construction of the blades. If you look at the edge-on, you may notice something odd.
    Traditionally, these blades are ground out of a single piece of steel leaving a raised central spine.
    For various reasons at different times simpler methods have been used to achieve this shape with less 'effort'.
    I've seen an Omani blade of this shape (on a good quality silver mounted Khanjar of early 20thC date) where the blade itself was a flat piece of steel with the spine made from separate pieces one on each side which were pinned and brazed on.
    Getting back to yours, you may notice if you look very closely at the edge you might see a join
    It has become common for the blades to be made from two pressed sheets of thin metal joined together (making a hollow blade).
    It's easy to tell as even if you can't see the join you can usually squeeze the middle while looking in from the edge and see some movement. Also if you bang the blade with your fingernail it'll make a very dead/dull noise.

    So, as you'll have guessed the hollow blades are essentially non-functional. But are still valid culturally as these items move from traditional weapon to fashion accessory.

    Yes the article is of course right and the traditionalists and wealthy will demand 'real' Jambiya, often with old blades etc. But to many these are just part of everyday dress, so the value and function has become less important.

    Also, have a good look at your hilts. If possible take some close-up pictures of them in daylight to share with us. They also have an interesting tale to tell.

    I'll find some pics and add them in a bit to illustrate.
    Edit: here is the Omani that I mentioned with the added central spine, very unusual in my experience.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 11-15-2011 at 03:46 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Wilkinson View Post
    Hi David,
    As the article says, these are very much eveyday fashion accessories. I've read that men will wander around with a small bag hanging from the hilt (like its a belt hook).

    "Knife-seller Abdullah al Azeri shows off a 300-year-old jambiya dagger that he says is worth more than $25,000. Azeri says his family has been in the knife business for more than 1,000 years."
    I have not been to Yemen but did an full up Area Study, like a term paper that covers culture, rule of law, ect.
    My belt is made for a much smaller man, I can’t wear it, so it is displayed with some polish chainmail on a manikin.
    I have been over a good deal of the Middle East, and there are many moments of, ‘my friend, my friend, for you I have a special deal, only for you’. Sometimes it works out very well most time I can smell the hook in the bait. Half of why I love collection swords from the middle east is chana ( Cha na’ ) or haggling.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    I have not been to Yemen but did an full up Area Study, like a term paper that covers culture, rule of law, ect.
    My belt is made for a much smaller man, I can’t wear it, so it is displayed with some polish chainmail on a manikin.
    I have been over a good deal of the Middle East, and there are many moments of, ‘my friend, my friend, for you I have a special deal, only for you’. Sometimes it works out very well most time I can smell the hook in the bait. Half of why I love collection swords from the middle east is chana ( Cha na’ ) or haggling.
    Hi David,

    I've never been there myself.
    I've only got a couple of Jambiya/Khanjar with belts and I've got to say that these chaps must be mostly slightly built gentlemen.
    Neither of mine would stretch around my decadent western middle!
    Here's a Dharia dagger of mine (often called 'wahabite' Jambiyas) At a guess I'd say the belt fits about 25" waist.
    Also a picture of them being worn. With this type, clearly the belt is very much secondary to the weapon which is strapped to the outside of the belt.

    Best
    Gene
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  13. #13
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    Hello guys,

    Excellent discussion, Well done Gene and David.

    Jambiya blades are variant, the ones coming out of KSA (usually the long type as Gene have linked) are made of forged steel. Omani ones are usually of better quality then the yemeni ones, some are actually trade blades from india I think. The one I have has a thick well forged but chromed blade.

    What I noticed from my study and collection is that not all new yemeni blades are made of 2 pieces, some are forged and are very much functional but have a thinner ridge. Some have a grinded ridge aswell. Older examples have a thick ridge but thats not conclusive Imho.

    Attached is my collection of Jambiyas and arab swords.
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  14. #14
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    I forgot to add, your 2nd Jambiya with the green lines is an attractive one. I think its made for dress rather then the tourist market.

  15. #15
    Well Lotfy, that's a very nice selection you have there!

    Here is an illustation of the modern two part blade that I was talking about. You can see if you look closely the seam on the edge and the 'spot weld' that holds it together. A strange system.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  16. #16
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    Thanks Gene

    Yep, this is the 2 part blade. I think Artzi of Oriental arms have put a picture of the 2 parts seperated. But imo this does not represent all modern yemeni/omani blades. Some are still forged but probably on quality pieces.

  17. #17
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    I am in Afghanistan right now so I do not have access to my photos, might on my personal computer and will try to post mine and some of the others I have from here, the Afghan jambiyas I bought are wootz, two are a sort of matched set, and a second while it has see some rough use is in good shape with a more 'delicate' blade, not delicate in strength but in shape

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    I am in Afghanistan right now so I do not have access to my photos, might on my personal computer and will try to post mine and some of the others I have from here, the Afghan jambiyas I bought are wootz, two are a sort of matched set, and a second while it has see some rough use is in good shape with a more 'delicate' blade, not delicate in strength but in shape
    Hi David,

    Did you manage to buy them in Afghanistan? I'd like to see them when you can.

    Best
    Gene

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by A. Alnakas View Post
    Thanks Gene

    imo this does not represent all modern yemeni/omani blades. Some are still forged but probably on quality pieces.
    Absolutely right, these are examples of the Jambiya in decorative/fashion form only. As I said above "the traditionalists and wealthy will demand 'real' Jambiya, often with old blades etc" being kind to the one I show with the two part blade would be saying it is 'entry level'

    Your Omani is interesting, I've never seen one with a chromed blade! How strange.
    My Omani (below) has a blade with very thin sharp 'flats' but a thick and rigid spine.
    I've just tried it 'on' and the belt must be to fit about a 25" waist as well. No good for me!

    Best
    Gene
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  20. #20
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    I must've really lucked out when I was in Turkey- I managed to find an actual wootz-bladed piece that must've gotten overlooked because of the dead plain handle and sheath- black, no decoration- and it may really be 300 years old.
    Unfotunately, the shop owner knew what he had. When I saw the blade steel I must've reacted, because the shop owner said through his son "You understand what is truth and what is not. The blade is the truth of a knife, all else is unimportant." I remarked that being a smith myself I understood that very well, and the haggling began. He won.

  21. #21
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    I want to thank everyone who has replied to this thread. The wealth of knowledge that one can learn from this message board will never cease to amaze me. I will get those close up pics if the hilts when I get home from work. Thanks again for all the info.

  22. #22
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    I manage to do some antiquing while I a here, LOL
    photos are in a thread some where, I will dig it up for you

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Wilkinson View Post
    Hi David,

    Did you manage to buy them in Afghanistan? I'd like to see them when you can.

    Best
    Gene

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Al Massey View Post
    I must've really lucked out when I was in Turkey- I managed to find an actual wootz-bladed piece that must've gotten overlooked because of the dead plain handle and sheath- black, no decoration- and it may really be 300 years old.
    Unfotunately, the shop owner knew what he had. When I saw the blade steel I must've reacted, because the shop owner said through his son "You understand what is truth and what is not. The blade is the truth of a knife, all else is unimportant." I remarked that being a smith myself I understood that very well, and the haggling began. He won.
    hey, this IS 'show and tell' you know?
    Now you have to show!

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    I manage to do some antiquing while I a here, LOL
    photos are in a thread some where, I will dig it up for you
    Excellent!
    I did wonder, you look like you've got your hands full from your avatar pic

  25. #25
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    Wouldn't traditionally they have forged the raised spine in and the grinding only to clean up the blade after forging?
    Thomas Powers
    CoFounder of the Intergalactic Union of Bladesmiths
    "when you forge upon a star"---you better have your union card handy!

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