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Old 25th September 2006, 08:10 AM   #1
The Highlander
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Default Assassin's (Hashishin) Dagger Info Sought

As part of a thesis that I am working on regarding the Assassin's and their role in the politics of the Middle East, I am trying to find a picture or accurate drawing of one of their daggers. Supposedly (according to some sources), these were standardized, extremely well balanced for throwing or hand-to-hand, and could be quite ornate. Does anyone know where I might find this information? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Bill McHenry
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Old 25th September 2006, 11:41 PM   #2
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AN INTERESTING SUBJECT.
I HAVE NO INFORMATION ON WHAT SORT OF DAGGERS WERE USED BUT SUSPECT THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN EASILY IDENTIFIED BY THEIR MARKS BUT A FAIRLY STANDARD FORM. THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN HAD MOST OF HIS SUCCESS THRU YEARS OF PLANNING AND THE PLACEMENT OF HIS ASSASINS IN THE SERVICE OF HIS VICTIMS. IN SOME CASES THE CHILDREN GREW UP TOGETHER ONE TO BE A RULER AND THE OTHERS TO BE IN A POSITION OF TRUST WHERE THE QUICK THRUST OF A POISONED DAGGER WOULD BE POSSIBLE. I WOULD DISREGARD THE IDEA OF THROWING A DAGGER FOR AN IMPORTANT ASSISINATION AS TOO MUCH CAN GO WRONG, UNLESS THEY JUST WANTED TO SCARE AND NOT KILL. AN UNEXPECTED STRIKE FROM A TRUSTED AID BEING MUCH MORE SURE. THE PLAN WAS TO RULE ALL THE ROYAL FAMILYS IN THE AREA THRU THE TERROR OF ASSASINS, SEVERAL TIMES THEY SHOWED THAT THEY COULD KILL THE VICTIMS AT WILL WITHOUT ACTUALLY DOING IT. I ASSUME ALL THE ASSASINS CARRIED SOMETHING TO IDENTIFY THEM AS THEY WERE USUALLY KILLED QUICKLY AFTER THE ASSINATION AND THE OLD MAN WANTED TO MAKE SURE HE GOT CREDIT. SO A DAGGER MAY HAVE BEEN HIS CALLING CARD BUT I COULDN'T SAY FOR SURE PERHAPS ANY GAURDS DAGGER OR SWORD WOULD DO WITH A BIT OF POISON TO MAKE SURE OF SUCCESS.
I FOUND IT INTERESTING THAT THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN WAS A CLASSMATE OF OMAR KAYAM AND ANOTHER WHO BECAME A HIGH OFFICIAL AND THE 3 MADE A AGREEMENT THAT THE FIRST TO SUCCEED WOULD HELP THE OTHER TWO. THE ONE GOT POWERFUL FIRST AND GAVE OMAR AND HASSIAN GOVERNMENT POSITIONS, OMAR WROTE THE RUBIYAT AND ENJOYED LIFE. HASSIAN ABUSED HIS POSITION AND TRYED TO OVERTHROW HIS FRIEND AND TAKE HIS PLACE HE WAS THROWN OUT AND LATER HAD HIS ASSASINS KILL HIS FRIEND. ITS BEEN YEARS SINCE I DID ANY REASERCH AND I HAVE FORGOTTEN MOST BUT YOU HAVE AN INTERESTING SUBJECT, GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN
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Old 25th September 2006, 11:56 PM   #3
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My understanding that they were not members of the intended target's household: they lived with Hassan ibn Sabbah (or another leader, as they were active for almost 5 centuries) at Alamut and dispatched to the target as necessary. Kind of Shiite ninjas or contemporary suicide bombers.
I am not sure we know much of their tactics and weapons as their archives were destroyed by the Mameluke Sultan Beibars.
I did not know of Omar Khayyam story; my impression was that the "Old man " was originally from Yemen. If true, the irony of diverging fates is striking.
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Old 26th September 2006, 01:05 AM   #4
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hey barry,
i think we read the same books, probably at the same time. i do remember the names as i thought it would make a fabulous screenplay. the third friend was nizam al mulk, and the story was questioned due to a probable age gap. interesting how history alters the facts. nizam al mulk was the most famous of the three at the time, due to his power at court but he is now completey forgotten. omar khayyam was famous for his astronomy, and not his poetry, as he was centuries ahead of his time. however, if it were not for his poetry and my fathers rendering of it, i may not have been born :-)
hassan sabbah took a hard rap over the centuries, more so in very recent times as his likening to a certain fugitive who has mentioned sabbahs name in his rallying (sorry, trying to be obscure to avoid politics).
sorry, no mention of daggers, but a fascinating part of history.
highly recommend the book 'samarkand' which i read as 'light' relief after reading the factual and academic accounts.
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Old 26th September 2006, 03:43 AM   #5
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AS WITH ALL STORYS THE LEGENDS GROW AND ONE SOURCE WILL MENTION SOME EVENT WHICH ANOTHER SOURCE DOSEN'T MENTION THE BLENDING OF FACT AND FICTION USUALLY OCCURS.
THE WAY I REMBER IT THE YOUNG MEN WERE CALLED TO THE CASTLE BY THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN AND GIVEN DRUGED DRINK AND HASHISH TO SMOKE AND THEN CARRIED INTO THE CANYON BEHIND THE CASTLE WHERE THEY AWOKE IN PARADISE WITH ALL ITS PROMISES. THEY THEN WERE DRUGGED AGAIN AND BROUGHT BEFORE THE OLD MAN AND GIVEN THEIR ORDERS. HAVING BEEN IN PARADISE FOR A EVENING THEY WERE EAGER TO SUCESSFULLY CARRY OUT THEIR MISSION AND DIE AND RETURN TO PARADISE.
ONE STORY I READ WAS THAT AN ENVOY WAS SENT TO ONE OF THE RULERS WITH THE DEMANDS OF THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN. AFTER LISTENING TO THE DEMANDS OF THE ENVOY THE RULER SAID I WILL NOT OBEY AS MY PROTECTION IS PERFECT AND I HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR. THE ENVOY SAID I WILL PROVE THAT I HOLD YOUR LIFE IN MY HANDS HE THEN TOLD THE RULERS TWO TRUSTED PERSONEL BODYGAURDS WHO HAD GROWN UP WITH HIM AS CHILDREN TO DRAW THEIR SWORDS AND KILL EACH OTHER. ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION WAS THAT ANOTHER RULER WOKE UP IN HIS WELL GAURDED BEDROOM WITH A DAGGER STICKING IN THE BED BY HIS HEAD. WHATS TRUE AND WHATS FALSE BUT IT DOES MAKE A INTERESTING STORY. I AM NOT QUOTING WHAT I READ AS I DON'T REMEMBER HOW OR WHERE IT WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN.

PERHAPS SOMEONE CAN PROVIDE SOME PICTURES OF DAGGERS USED IN THAT AREA DURING THAT TIME. I ASSUME IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A CURVED JAMBAYA FORM.
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Old 26th September 2006, 04:41 AM   #6
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Default Thanks for Jumping on this Guys!

Actually, from two sources that I've read (Marco Polo [semi-fiction] and an historical fiction novel), the dagger descriptions were very similar; double-edged, diamond sectional profile, perfectly balanced, damscus blade, narrow in relation to it's length, semi-precious or ornate grip marked with engravings of assassins at work or religious writings, and with the seal of the Hashishin (heart pierced by points at top and bottom, supposedly a derivative of the Masonic emblem, the points representing the compass and square). As stated earlier, since most of his disciples were killed following their assignments, he wanted to be sure there was a "signature". I have also read the account of the dagger in the pillow as a warning.

I've also read that the Hashishin had one of the most complete libraries in the Middle East at the time of Baybar's conquest, and that it included names, dates, methods, recipes for poisins, and even foreign texts on martial arts and weapon-craft, all of which Baybar felt would be better destroyed. Makes you wonder what was lost to history? That's why I'm writing on this particular topic (or trying to).

I've already written a thesis on the Mamluk culture, which is itself fascinating as it also involved indoctrinating captured children and "growing" a warrior culture with total obedience to the "state". For anyone who hasn't read it, I highly recommend "Soldier of Fortune" by Sir J.B. Glubb, the last true British commander of the famed Arab Brigade and a devoted "Arabophile". He's discounted by many British scholars because of this, but he's still the only senior military man since T.E. Lawrence to learn the language and live with his troops and try and pass down the tales of the Beduins and their forefathers in an historical perspective. So much of the other literature on the Arab/Persian/Turkish dynasties has been written by their conqueror's that it's been somewhat "sanitized".

Bill
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