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Old 1st July 2020, 10:15 PM   #1
shayde78
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Default Spanish Dirk?

Hi everyone,

I'm hoping some of you will weigh in on a recent acquisition. I believe it is a Spanish dagger, made in a style consistent with Albacete (although not entirely the same as other examples on this forum). I found a very similar piece in one of my references (see last picture) in which it is described a a possible naval dirk (Mark - that's your cue!). However, Capwell's book has a number of errors, and even so, the description states it isn't certainly a naval dirk, but one for maritime use. Regardless, it is a substantial knife, seemingly intended for proper use. I'm guessing late 19th century? The ricasso seems a unique detail I've not seen elsewhere. It is sharpened in those scallops [edited 7/2/20 1:34am - these scallops are UNsharpened], and the edge begins just past them.

Any comments welcome!

Specifications:
Total length - 16" (41cm)
Blade length - 12" (30cm)
Hilt length - 4" (10.5cm)
Blade width - 1" (2.5cm) at the guard
Blade thickness - 0.20" (5.1mm) at 4.5 inches from the guard (the thickest part of the blade)
Missing some of the ribbing on the hilt - example indicated by arrows in 7th picture.
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Last edited by shayde78 : 2nd July 2020 at 01:34 AM.
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Old 2nd July 2020, 01:24 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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I cant add much, but interesting item, and nicely placed along with details and identifying source. This kind of posting sharing these with already completed research is outstanding!! Here its always a learning experience, and nicely done Shayde!! Thank you!!!
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Old 3rd July 2020, 02:10 AM   #3
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A very nice piece, Shayde! It does indeed have many of the elements of a possible naval dirk, including the simple, but stylish guard and fluted grip/capped pommel. The blade shape and design, however, make me wonder if this might be a Philippine side knife. many of these types do resemble Euro dirks. I'm just not sure- Perhaps some of our Ethno experts could weigh in on naval dirk vs Filipino bowie-style knife. In any case, a very fine and old piece! (Unfortunately, many collectors do get fooled by some of the Filipino/Malay swords, that also often resemble early Euro cutlasses and colonial American hangers. Throw in the confusion with Spanish colonial and its a whole 'nother ball park!)
Mark
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Old 3rd July 2020, 10:44 AM   #4
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I think it could be Spanish, but this or the one in the book are not naval, they are rather civilian weapons, possibly from Albacete. Smiths from Albacete could establish themselves in other places and work the same ways.

Thay have a museum there.

http://www.museocuchilleria.es/coleccion-jose-falcao/

http://armasblancas.es/index.php/co...alcazar-sarrion

Last edited by midelburgo : 3rd July 2020 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 3rd July 2020, 11:15 AM   #5
Richard G
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I have a suspicion it is a spear head repurposed. If so I would go for the Philippine option.
Regards
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Old 4th July 2020, 02:55 AM   #6
M ELEY
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Hello Richard. I also had wondered about a repurposed spear-head, but was afraid to propose it as it is not my area of expertise. I've had a dagger fashioned from a Malay spear-head and I know such weapons exist.
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Old 4th July 2020, 08:51 AM   #7
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My first impression was filipino origen, the spanish dagger. mainly from the Albacete city, have different guards.
Thanks
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Old 5th July 2020, 03:27 AM   #8
shayde78
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Some very compelling insights - thank you everyone! my inability to clearly classify this feels validated
The hilt still looks Spanish to me, but the idea of the blade being a spear head bears consideration. The overall profile does look like certain tombaks, although that would correspond with a broader Indonesian origin. I tend to see these with distinct pamour, but I'm certain many were forged of homogeneous steel.

Another thought that occurred to me - this would probably serve the purpose of a marlin spike. The mighty Wikipedia states these could be over 12" in length and would double as an offensive weapon, when needed. In this case, a dagger that could be used for marline rope work, rather than a spike being used as an improvised weapon.

Thanks again, and I'm curious to see how this conversation progresses. If the consensus builds that this is not European, I'm gonna with this being moved over to the Ethno section.
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Old 5th July 2020, 07:48 AM   #9
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Exactly, Shayde, concerning origin. You are right about the tombak and the beautiful pamour to those spear heads. I also agree concerning the Spanish Albacete style hilt, but with Spanish and Portuguese colonialism and presence in so many of these areas (Philippines, Indonesia, Brunai, etc), a marriage of blade and hilt is not unheard-of. Marlin spikes, whale blubber knives, belay pins, etc, all made great weapons in a fight on the deck. The late, great Gilkerson mentions as much and includes examples of such usage during boardings. I am also curious to see where this artifact will lead us next!
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Old 6th July 2020, 11:35 AM   #10
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Look at the bundiak spear just posted on the Ethnographic forum.
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Old 6th July 2020, 01:04 PM   #11
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Thanks Richard!
The buniak spear you reference doesn't quite have the same blade profile, and it looks like it might be mounted by a socket vs. a tang? Still, there is some similarity, so not a bad lead, and I will have to look up additional images to see if there are examples that more closely resemble the 'dirk' in question.
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Old 11th July 2020, 01:56 AM   #12
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So, I've been scouring this site and others for any spear heads that match this profile, but to no avail. Nearly every spear head starts barely wider than the tang, then swells to the thicker part of the head before narrowing to the tip.

The blade on the knife in question begins, right at the guard, as wide as it ever gets. It THEN narrows in the scallops of the ricasso, before regaining the same width. It someone can find a spear head with this pattern/profile, that would truly narrow down a place of origin. Otherwise, I'm back to thinking it was always intended to be a knife blade rather than a repurposed spear.
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Old 11th July 2020, 09:51 AM   #13
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This is still a hard one to pinpoint. I was sort of imagining an Igorot spear, but if so, it would have been cut down and had the two curved 'spines' removed at the back. It is indeed possible that it is a knife blade made by an artistic craftsman. In ANY case, it is an awesome piece!
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Old 23rd July 2020, 05:05 AM   #14
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Default earliest appearance of the blade shape?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shayde78

The blade on the knife in question begins, right at the guard, as wide as it ever gets. It THEN narrows in the scallops of the ricasso, before regaining the same width. It someone can find a spear head with this pattern/profile, that would truly narrow down a place of origin. Otherwise, I'm back to thinking it was always intended to be a knife blade rather than a repurposed spear.


If you propose that this dagger possibly originated in Albacete (Spain), do you know when the oldest known examples of Albacete daggers with this blade shape date from? And perhaps do you recall seeing any Spanish daggers like this portrayed in medieval or Renaissance art?

Please see attached. Could the shape of your dagger possibly have a link to the distant past, specifically the Roman pugio, a concept that might have lingered in the folk memory of the Spanish provinces? A long shot, perhaps, but I was struck by a certain resemblance.
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Old 23rd July 2020, 12:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayde78
If the consensus builds that this is not European, I'm gonna with this being moved over to the Ethno section.

Rob, if you wish this thread to be moved over to Ethno or if you want it to be copied over there (without leaving here), just say it.
By the way, if i may reveal my impressions, the shape of your 'dagger's' grip only by coincidence resembles those from Albacete; but i may be talking nonsense.
In the attached work, which you can find in free PDF format in the Net (to heavy too upload here), even not knowing Spanish, you will have an idea of how these handles are shaped ... and built.


.
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Old 23rd July 2020, 08:06 PM   #16
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Thank you, Philip and Fernando. Again, my attribution of this piece to Spain was based upon the hilt bearing similarities to other knives made in the region, including the example I provided from the reference book. Nothing matched entirely, which is why I wanted to seek feedback here.

I'm grateful if this thread could be copied onto the Ethnographic forum. I still have yet to see a spear that matches this profile, but someone there likely has, and can narrow down an origin. I've yet to be convinced it isn't European in origin, so copying it to the other forum may provide that evidence. So,a s I type that, I'm thinking it doesn't make sense to have two threads. So, perhaps it could be moved and, if a non-European origin isn't established, we could discuss moving it back here. I'll let you, as a moderator, decide what is best.

Philip, I agree it is a long shot, and the similarities are not extensive, BUT the profile of the pugio does indeed have some parallels to the dagger in question. In fact, more so than anything else I've been able to find, at least regarding the junction with the hilt and the concave ricasso. Great point to make, even if there is no direct link, it is interesting to see certain forms represented/repeated on disparate pieces.

Thanks again
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Old 23rd July 2020, 08:14 PM   #17
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Let's just move it, then.
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Old 24th July 2020, 12:52 PM   #18
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I hope I can attach some photo's
One from Ashoka Arts of what they describe as a Thai spear with the same type of 'quatrefoil' guard.
And two of modern Thai daggers that have the same sort of 'spearhead blade'
Regards
Richard
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Old 24th July 2020, 12:55 PM   #19
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OK,try again
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Old 24th July 2020, 06:48 PM   #20
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Richard,
That seems like you're on to something! Might be time to narrow my search to Thailand. The spear guards seem to be in the same family, and the dagger shape, although contemporary, is at least close in some of its features.
Thanks for posting these pics!
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Old 25th July 2020, 09:06 AM   #21
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Hi Shayde78,

I don't think that it is a remounted spear blade, I think that it is desinged as dagger originally and possible of Philippine origin.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 25th July 2020, 04:20 PM   #22
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It's too narrow to be a remounted N.Philippine spear blade.

Hereís a dagger from the Philippines that has a similar blade profile. Like Shayde78ís dagger, the scalloped edges are unsharpened.
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Old 25th July 2020, 04:47 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayde78
Thank you, Philip and Fernando. Again, my attribution of this piece to Spain was based upon the hilt bearing similarities to other knives made in the region, including the example I provided from the reference book. Nothing matched entirely, which is why I wanted to seek feedback here.

Philip, I agree it is a long shot, and the similarities are not extensive, BUT the profile of the pugio does indeed have some parallels to the dagger in question. In fact, more so than anything else I've been able to find, at least regarding the junction with the hilt and the concave ricasso. Great point to make, even if there is no direct link, it is interesting to see certain forms represented/repeated on disparate pieces.

Thanks again


Yes, I don't dispute that going from pugio to this is a very far reach. But I figured it might be worth throwing out there anyway.

Having looked at the other contributions, showing certain analogies to Thai dagger, Philippine knives, and guards on Thai lances, those are intriguing and history shows that those cultural areas were, over time, affected by influences from Europe (think Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands). So we can't definitely rule out anything. After all, we see Sri Lankan polearms with heads clearly patterned after European partizans of the 16th cent., and French bush knives of the 19th cent. with falchion-like blades (douk-douk) shaped just like those on Vietnamese weapons (dao truong)

In particular, I can't but help notice that the barrel-shaped form of the grip, with ferrules, is one of those elements: lots of central and northern Philippine knives seem to have it, as well as those plug-bayonet-like hunting knives popular in 16th-17th cent. southern Europe. But what about the WORKMANSHIP AND DECORATION of the hilt of the dagger that is the subject of this thread -- the longitudinal ribbing with applied metal inlays?

A very similar style appears on the hilt of the Spanish knife illustrated in the image out of the book which was posted earlier. Just out of curiosity, has anyone seen this decorative technique on the hilt of one of those Philippine or Thai daggers which otherwise have a strong resemblance?

I've noticed close-spaced longitudinal ribbing on the ebony or rosewood grips of some Vietnamese and southern Chinese fighting knives but none of those exhibit any metal inlay.
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Old 25th July 2020, 06:09 PM   #24
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It is most interesting to read these very astute entries with observations showing various possibilities with combined influences from numerous countries and regions. With the profound trade and colonialism in the places noted, I think it is important to remember that artisans from these many places often were relocated in these situations, and the combining of their favored styling and designs were inevitably inherent in the weapons they fashioned.

This is one of the intrigues of studying ethnographic weapons, the noting and identifying of these elements into a kind of fabric incorporating the cultures and influences represented in the weapon at hand.

In such weapons, a concise or specific classification is often not feasible, but better identified to the majority category with subsequent features added.
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:44 PM   #25
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Default Plug bayonet

To my eye this strongly resembles a plug bayonet, probably Spanish, late 18th to early 19th C. These had dual use as daggers or could be mounted in the barrel of a gun, for example, when hunting to safely dispatch a wounded animal.

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Old 26th July 2020, 09:04 PM   #26
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Default Philippine Dagger For Consideration

Hi All,

Here is a dagger from my collection which also features dual concave rebates at the forte. The sides of the blade at the concavities are flat (about 1/8" [3.175mm] thick). Given the style of the sheath and the engraved decoration on the blade at the forte, I had always considered the piece to be from the Philippines. The blade measures about 12.875" (327.025mm) long and is of flattened diamond cross section until the engraved design. The iron cross guard is octagonal and measures about 1.5" high x .875" wide (38.1 x 22.225mm). The hilt (with pommel) measures about 4.25" (107.95mm) and is, save for the brass spiral wrap, iron. The pommel is a roughly circular, incised disk. It is surmounted by a flat iron washer which holds the peened over tang.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 27th July 2020, 08:37 AM   #27
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Default Another Philippines dagger

This one is similar to the one shown by RobT although more recent in manufacture. I believe this one is from northern or central Luzon and is missing the braided wire on the hilt. No sheath.


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Old 27th July 2020, 12:54 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveA
To my eye this strongly resembles a plug bayonet, probably Spanish, late 18th to early 19th C. These had dual use as daggers or could be mounted in the barrel of a gun, for example, when hunting to safely dispatch a wounded animal...Dave A

Not the right shape, i am afraid, David.
Plug bayonet grips must swell all the way to the guard, to progressively 'plug' into the barrel. And their purpose was more to defend the hunter from the wounded animal strike back, in lack of time to reload the gun !.


,
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Old 27th July 2020, 01:52 PM   #29
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My first impression was filipino origen, the albacete knives have similar form, but I think this piece is from Philippines.
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Old 27th July 2020, 02:49 PM   #30
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As Fernando has well observed in post #28, this example being discussed is clearly not a plug bayonet as the swell in the grip is opposed to the shape required for insertion into a gun barrel.

However, the plug bayonet, much as many weapon forms and features, remained in use traditionally much longer than many realize with Spaniards.
There were examples vestigially made in the plug bayonet form even into the 19th c. which continued to serve as a hunting knife, and the designs often would lean toward the features of other examples of knives in use at the time.

I think observers here have compellingly shown the example in discussion as probably of Philippine origin, and that features such as the concave rebates at the base of the blade are a feature seen in other examples of these types found in Philippine context.

The Spanish influences in arms and even armor in many cases (Moro examples) is well established in the Philippine archipelago with their colonial presence there until the end of the 19th c. as Mark has pointed out in #9.
The features of some Albacete knives no doubt crept into designs along with of course other Spanish and perhaps Asian features in the producing of these knives/dirks.
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