Somewhat worn but once very high-quality, with great sculptural qualities and remains of silver "true…
Base 3 mm
At bend 3 mm
Tip 3.5 mm
Base 35 mm
At bend 38 mm
Tip 49 mm
from base of blade
Steel, wood, silver
(Southeastern Egypt to eastern Sudan and the northwestern part of Eritrea)
Early 20th century
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These handsome daggers were worn by the nomadic Hadendoa people, their name has been interpreted as meaning "Lion Clan" or "Children of the Lioness". They are a subdivision of the Beja people from which these daggers derive their name. They inhabit the deserts of southeastern Egypt to eastern Sudan and the northwestern part of Eritrea.
The Hadendoa fought Anglo-Egyptian ruled Sudan between 1883-1898 and were known for their bravery. Their most famous chief was Osman Digna, who played a part in the demise of Charles "Chinese" Gordon, well-known among my Chinese sword-collecting readers. In the second world war, they joined their former foes, the British, against the Italians.
The daggers bear a striking resemblance to the South Indian chilanum and is probably related to them, as Indian traders had frequented the ports of the eastern coast for centuries. Apart from the hilt, the ricasso is also a very Indian design trait not seen on nearby Persian arms.
Hadendoa man with his dagger.
Date and photographer unknown.
The blade starts straight, then has a sharp bend after which it widens and gently curves back. The blade is of very fine quality for one of these, with a well defined central ridge, and a secondary edge bevel, all ground with precision. Four stars are punched into the blade.
The hilt in typical X shape, finely carved of dark hardwood. The center section is wrapped with silver wire. The hilt is further adorned with 10 silver circular ornaments with embossed crosses.
Two daggers, one of which very similar in form to ours but without the hilt decoration were collected by Charles Armine Willis Charles Armine Willis (1881-1975). A British Intelligence officer who served in Sudan. According to the museum records he collected it in 1913. Now in the Pitt-Rivers collection numbers 1932.30.12 .1-6.
There is also a dagger with nearly identical blade but less ornamental hilt in the British Museum. Accession number Af1935,0307.1. It was donated to the museum in 1935 by Major Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton, explorer and naturalist and founder of Quex Museum, Birchington.
A very good example of its type, in near-perfect condition.
Comes with an upright stand.
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Thought to have been presented by the Royal House of Nepal.
Rarely seen today, a commoner's example with carved, bone hilt.
Of nice quality, with unusual openwork silver bolster with serapendiya.
An exceptionally large example with a desirable three fullered blade.
Signed: Ricky Milnes, India 44, Burma 44, Ramree 45.