Ainu dagger overall
This item has been sold.
Overall length

Sheathed 42 cm

Knife 33 cm

Blade length

20.5 cm

Blade thickness

Base 4 mm

Middle 3.5 mm

Tip 2.5 mm

Blade width

Base 21 mm

Middle 18 mm

Tip 9 mm (at narrowing)

Weight

Overall 293 grams

Knife 153 grams

Point of balance

At collarpiece

Materials

Iron, steel, deer antler, brass, copper.

Unknown reddish material.

Dating

19th - early 20th century

Provenance

From a European private collector

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Description

The curved blade is sharpened on the concave side, with a staggered tip. Both sides of the blade are flat, with a chisel grind bevel on the right side. The tip has a staggered profile. The blade fits into the hilt by means of a single pin, like the menuki on Japanese swords. It has a brown-stained deer antler collarpiece.

It comes in a hilt and scabbard made of various segments of deer antler. Pommel, guard, scabbard troath piece and pommel were stained a copper oxide green. All parts are decorated with a combination of inlayd reddish dots of unknown material, and patterns of metal wire inlay. The wires consist or twisted brass wire, brass copper combination twist, and brass silver twisted wire. The work is very unusual in both aesthetics and execution, and I have not been able to find any comparables among antiques.

 

Markings

The tang of the blade, washer between blade and hilt, and the hilt itself are all marked "X III". I suspect these were most likely were markings done in the workshop to keep track of which blade belonged to which hilt.

 

Markings on knife

 

Attribution

Looking at the style and workmanship, and much use of deer antler in its construction, the first culture that comes to mind is Ainu. I am not aware of any other Ainu pieces that look quite like this, but the construction is also definitely not typical for mainland Asia. Perhaps it was a style used by a more remote Ainu tribe of which fewer knives survive.

Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife
Rare Ainu knife

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