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HOME : Islamic Art : Arms & Armour : Damascened Afghani Khyber soap-stone hilt dagger
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Damascened Afghani Khyber soap-stone hilt dagger - CB.2055
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 26.5" (67.3cm) high
Collection: Islamic Art
Medium: Steel

Location: Great Britain
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The Pashtun tribes living around the Khyber Pass traditionally use this type of Khyber knife. The Khyber Pass is the most important mountain pass in the Hindu Kush. Because it has played a strategic role in military and trade for over 2,000 years, the Khyber knife is found throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. The so-called Khyber Knife (presumably called Salawar Yataghan locally) is an example of a typical Afghani bladed weapon. Both terms, - Khyber Knife and Salawar Yataghan, - are though unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, native Afghans themselves cannot explain the connection of this term with any of the 3 main languages: Pushtu, Dari or Farsi. Moreover, one is hesitant to use the adopted word “yataghan” for a traditional Afghani weapon. The name “Khyber” is also unsatisfactory. It derives from the locality where this weapon was regularly observed. The only explanation for this term is its simplicity: short and convenient, and most importantly, traditional. In its classical variant, the Khyber has massive, straight, T-reinforced blade of substantial length, widened at the basis (root), so that the latter actually plays the role of a guard. The back of the blade is as a rule straight and undecorated. The hilt normally consists of two horn or bone slabs, as in the present case. When the hilt is made out of bone, then it can often be assembled out of separate pieces. Scabbards are generally of conical shape, made of wood and covered with leather or fabric. - (CB.2055)


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