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SUDANESE ARM DAGGERS


Mervyn Mitton
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These two daggers are either from Sudan or, Eritrea. I have often seen them being worn by herdboys when guarding the animals. I'm sure Will has seen plenty on his travels in that Country.

Usually they are worn on the left arm and are not used as we might expect. The hand is put through the loop and it is pulled to the outside of the upper arm. The handle is worn pointing downwards towards the wrist. Should they need to pull it quickly, the right hand just reaches across to the grip and pulls downwards. Quite deadly.

Both of these are of a good quality - with better metal then usually seen. The hide will be camel and it is nicely tooled for the decoration. Top and bottom on both, is python skin - which has many secret meanings to African tribes.

One has a plain wooden handle, with simple blade decoration - the other, is bone, ivory or, more likely Hippo tusk. Inlaid and with a good decoration on the blade.

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Mervyn

Those are nice examples. The ivory one is from the Hausa tribe due to the T shaped hilt design I actually have the same one as yours in my collection. The other looks to be a variation of a Tebu tribe dagger due to the blade design but is missing that skull crusher end? You will always find daggers with mixed styles in Africa due to intertribal trade of neighboring peoples.

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Hi All

Here is an example of an arm dagger from my collection from Omdurman dated 1898 in Arabic. Quite a few of these were picked up and brought back as keepsakes by the British after the battle of Omdurman.

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_11_2011/post-12847-0-80495100-1321294948.jpgHere is an example of how these daggers were worn. Notice the dagger on the left arm of this Beja warrior.

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I have one Tuareg dagger, acquired in West Africa years ago and it is very similar to the Hausa one. Both tribes are great travellers. In fact, Hausa is a trade language in many West African countries - every market will have someone who speaks at least a bit, much like Swahili in East Africa.

Wearing the dagger handle down is not restricted to the tribes. If you look at photos of special forces - US Rangers, SAS, etc - you'll often notice fighting knives worn handle down on the left breast, handy for a quick draw with the right hand but less likely to get caught on things or get in the way than if it were worn on the belt. "There's nothing knew under the sun"!

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Peter

Agreed Arm daggers date back to the ancient Egyptians I saw one on display a few years back and the ones you see from the 1880s until present have not changed much in three thousand years.

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