Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   African ? knife for I.D. and comment (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=11216)

colin henshaw 16th December 2009 01:30 PM

African ? knife for I.D. and comment
 
3 Attachment(s)
This is a recent acquisition, handle is of ivory I think, and the blade shows clear signs of file marks. Length approx. 9.5 inches. Was very rusty, now cleaned. There was an old label attached on which can just be made out "Native (or Natal ?) knife". Maybe a cross-cultural piece ?

Comments and opinions are most welcome.

Regards.

Tim Simmons 16th December 2009 07:14 PM

Colin, I do not think this knife is African. In my opinion it is North Indian, Afghan.

Lew 17th December 2009 02:24 AM

Could be Algerian?

Rick 17th December 2009 02:55 AM

The bolsters whisper Pashto in my ear . ;) :)

My .02

Jim McDougall 17th December 2009 02:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
The bolsters whisper Pashto in my ear . ;) :)

My .02



Good call Rick! The little 'solar' dot motif (though I know is seen elsewhere) is extremely well known in Afghan regions...remember the lohars with these?
The "Great Game" is afoot :)

All the best,
Jim

Rick 17th December 2009 03:16 AM

Good point Jim, about the circles on the scales . :)
The steel bolsters just look Indian/Afghan (to me) with that little step down to the blade . :)

Lew 17th December 2009 09:07 PM

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The same design is found in North African. Below is a Hausa dagger with the same motif.

Gavin Nugent 17th December 2009 09:14 PM

The circles
 
The same circle motif is found in China/Vietnam/Loas and I am sure other localities close to these regions...I have a few pieces supporting this.

As for this knife presented, as noted by Rick, the only other factor to look at on this knife is the bolsters, not much else reveals it's true nature. I would go with the Afghan regions looking at the "crude" (for want of a better word) workmanship, the bolsters, the bone hilt slabs and the circle motifs.

Gav

kronckew 18th December 2009 08:51 AM

add nepal to the list: chainpuri churi knife : (very recent mfg. ;))




colin henshaw 21st December 2009 10:15 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Thanks to those who input on this subject. On the face of things, it would appear the knife is from the North West Frontier/Afghanistan area, as suggested. However, along with the knife came these African wooden spoons, which have a similar "ring and dot" decoration. The spoons are labeled as being from Bechuanaland (colonial name for Botswana).

Merely a coincidence do you think ?

Regards.

Gavin Nugent 21st December 2009 11:15 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Thanks to those who input on this subject. On the face of things, it would appear the knife is from the North West Frontier/Afghanistan area, as suggested. However, along with the knife came these African wooden spoons, which have a similar "ring and dot" decoration. The spoons are labeled as being from Bechuanaland (colonial name for Botswana).

Merely a coincidence do you think ?

Regards.


Well that does throw the cat amongst the pigeons, maybe not a coincidence at all......an African eating set...hmmmm

Gav

kronckew 21st December 2009 01:13 PM

probably it's just a very easy decoration to make. here's a khodmi from algeria's bou sadi region just to up the ante.


not mine, tho i do have one, just no circles on it :)

and my choora has dozens of the circles with dots in them, some as part of a larger pattern on the blade, more distinctly on the brass part of the grip.




Rick 21st December 2009 02:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Thanks to those who input on this subject. On the face of things, it would appear the knife is from the North West Frontier/Afghanistan area, as suggested. However, along with the knife came these African wooden spoons, which have a similar "ring and dot" decoration. The spoons are labeled as being from Bechuanaland (colonial name for Botswana).

Merely a coincidence do you think ?

Regards.


The accessories do indeed cast doubt on N.India Afghanistan .

The bolsters seem unusual, almost excessive, for such a simple African knife . :confused: :shrug:

katana 21st December 2009 03:28 PM

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The circle/dot symbol is very old and is shared by many diverse cultures and geographic regions....although the meaning for each may be slightly different.......... I have seen this marking on African pieces as well as Arabic, Indian, Afghan etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circled_dot


"...........CIRCUMPUNCT - CIRCLE with DOT (BINDU) in the center: ~The sun, a sun god (called Ra in Egypt), ~Gold (as in alchemy), ~An (unbiblical) archangel (Kabbalah), ~emotional restraint (Freemasons), ~ The creative spark of divine consciousness within people linking everyone to the creative mind of a universal "god" thus making each persona "co-creator" (astrology). ~In the complex symbolic system of Hinduism and Buddhism, the bindu (dot) represents the male force. Together, the circle and the bindu symbolize the spiritual merging of male and female forces. .........."

".........Circle with a Dot or Circumpunct
The circle with a dot in the center is perhaps one of the simplest and most incredible of symbols. The circumpunct has been used for an incredibly long time. The symbol once was a representation of the sun, and as such as been the symbol to represent the Archangel Michael. The circumpunct is also the alchemical symbol for gold.

Perhaps the most profound meaning for the circle with a dot in it is that of God. I had a professor once who had asked the class to draw the best representation of God. There were some students who drew Christ, others an old man in a chair, and then there were some that drew the Hindu gods. In the end all he did was draw a circle on the board with a dot in the center.
“This is God, the circumpunct is perhaps the most perfect symbol to represent God. The circle,” His finger traced the circle on the board. “represents the all encompassing power and infinite limitlessness of God. While the dot,” He pointed to the center of the circle “Represents our place within God, we are part of God. The circumpunct represents the perfect union of the divine and the created. The dot can represent anything within the omnipotent divinity of God.” He walked around the room in a circle then stood in the center. “Or it can also represent the self. The circle can mean the body, or the conscious self, while the dot can represent our subconscious or super-conscious.”
The circumpunct is indeed profound with its meaning ranging from an explanation of deity, to an explanation of the self. These two points in addition to its ancient meaning of the sun earn the circumpunct the rank of most symbolic of all symbols............."




"......Although not as dominate as the emblem of a cross, the ancient symbol of a circle with a dot in the center , can be found in almost every culture on earth...."
http://www.ayjw.org/articles.php?id=752236

"..........The Egyptian eye of Horus (the Wedjat) and Turkish nazar or göz (a blue circle with a dot in the middle) all are symbolic eyes used to deflect ‘the evil eye’. A blue protective eye can also be found in on some forms of the Hamsa hand, an apotropaic hand-shaped amulet used against the evil eye found in the Middle East. In Jewish culture, the Hamsa is called the Hand of Miriam; in Muslim culture, the Hand of Fatima......."

As to Colin's knife...there is still a possibility that this is an African 'copy' of a colonial knife

Below is a picture of a Sumerian Alabaster bowl circa 2500BC to 1500 BC

Regards David

Norman McCormick 21st December 2009 07:20 PM

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Hi,
Detail on a short sword from Trabzon, Black Sea Turkey c1910.
Regards,
Norman.

Tim Simmons 22nd December 2009 02:37 PM

I see the tang, fixing and bolster more related to this-

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...highlight=uzbek

I started a thread long time ago, a knife very similar to Colin's except a lot finer I just cannot find it. Freddy now has it. If he still has it then perhaps you could email or pm him then all will be revealed. I got it from Yannis :D .

colin henshaw 24th December 2009 09:54 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Thanks again to those who have input further on this, especially to Katana for his comprehensive research on the "ring and dot" motif. Seemingly the symbol also goes back to Neolithic times, described as "cup and ring markings" often carved in rock, particularly to be found in Scotland & North England. Here are a couple of images I have located of examples on bone from Africa, from the book "Zulu Treasures".

Two points to highlight about the knife - the cross-section of the blade is uniformly flat and quite thin, also the outline of the blade is a bit like a bowie knife, with the clipped point. I forgot to mention in my first post that the word "African" can just be made out in ink on the label, but it can be seen faintly on the image, (could be mis-labeled though).

Given the available evidence, I am inclined to believe the knife is a Southern African copy of a European knife, which would explain the relative crudeness of its manufacture. Could have been made by natives for their own use as a prestige item, or maybe a commission to an African craftsman by a European colonial, who needed a general cutting or hunting-type weapon.

Can't be sure 100% of course, but its interesting whatever.

Regards

kronckew 28th January 2010 01:06 PM

found this newly made nepali 'reti' knife on another forum.

Rumpel 28th January 2010 10:55 PM

And there's this, already sold (and thus OK to link to, I think/hope):http://therionarms.com/sold/therionarms_c444.html

Edited to add: the above isn't that different to some Bosnian bichiqs.

David 28th January 2010 11:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Thanks to those who input on this subject. On the face of things, it would appear the knife is from the North West Frontier/Afghanistan area, as suggested. However, along with the knife came these African wooden spoons, which have a similar "ring and dot" decoration. The spoons are labeled as being from Bechuanaland (colonial name for Botswana).

Merely a coincidence do you think ?

If the spoons were made of the same material and the dot patterns were in the same configuration perhaps i could see a connection. What i think you have here is a misinformed collector putting "like" things together because he doesn't know any better. Nothing about these items says "set" to me.
Here's a link to a Tibetan knife of mine which also has dot patterns as well as a similar over shape. I don't think Colin's is Tibetan, but i'd bet it is from somewhere closer to there than African. I'd say Afghanistan might be a good guess.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=5669

Jim McDougall 29th January 2010 10:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David
If the spoons were made of the same material and the dot patterns were in the same configuration perhaps i could see a connection. What i think you have here is a misinformed collector putting "like" things together because he doesn't know any better. Nothing about these items says "set" to me.
Here's a link to a Tibetan knife of mine which also has dot patterns as well as a similar over shape. I don't think Colin's is Tibetan, but i'd bet it is from somewhere closer to there than African. I'd say Afghanistan might be a good guess.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=5669


Hi David,
I think that Afghanistan would be an excellent guess, much as has been suggested by several of us here. This simple motif is clearly something that has most likely evolved convergently in quite different cultures and from ancient times. Its very simplicity reflects certain temporal commonality, and it was well known in ancient times in Luristan and contiguous areas.

What comes to mind for me are the Afghan lohars with these circled dots as well as a buzkhashi whip with its bone handle having like motif.

The concentric circles are interesting, but somewhat incongruent with these simple circled dots.

In reviewing the posts here, I wanted to note as well the outstanding detail added in Katana's research on these symbols. I well agree with your well placed note on the instances where collectors (and often even museums) get groupings of items comingled and contaminate provenance. In fact, conversely, there was one instance I recall where collected items led to a presumption of a Tibetan identification on a distinctly African knife.

All best regards,
Jim

kronckew 29th January 2010 11:33 AM

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another photo i just found, a seax from the netherlands:
(again shows the universality of the motif)

Jambu 7th May 2010 01:08 AM

LATE ENTRY
 
1 Attachment(s)
:D Hadendoa Dagger with broken hilt, featuring the CIRCUMPUNCT...


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