Moroccan Dagger | Poignard Marocain Koumia | Poignard Maroc,Example 1. A well-worn silver mounted koummya, probably from the late 19th or early 20th century, comprising (a) the black woollen canopy that would be worn outside the djellaba and on the right shoulder to suspend the koummya from the wearer’s left waist; the display face is shown. (b) Detail of the display face of the scabbard which is made of embossed silver. (c) Detail of the opposite side of the scabbard, less richly decorated and well smoothed by years of wear. The scabbard is lined with wood. (d) Inside face, as worn, with the pommel embossed and engraved in the same quality as on the display face. The handle is made of dark hardwood. Some resin remains between the silvery cap of the pommel and the wooden handle. The silver ferrule has an additional decoration, which slightly covers the scabbard when the dagger is inserted into its sheath. The blade is typical for its profile, being made of ordinary steel without pattern, with a maximum thickness of 4.5 mm. (0.18 inch), beveled and sharpened along its convex side for the three-fifths closest to the point and along the opposite concave side for the seven-eighths closest to the point. Total length with scabbard: 42.5 cm. (16.8 inches); total length without scabbard 40.6 cm. (16 inches); length of the blade: 24.5 cm. (24.5 cm.). (9.63 inches).
The koummya is the traditional dagger characteristic of the Berber and Arab peoples of Morocco. The stone classifies it as a localized variant of the Arab jambiya, and the streamlined handles, double-edged curved blades, and exaggeratedly raised scabbard tips are all characteristics consistent with such an interpretation. In the context of traditional regional dress, the kummya is worn visibly on the left side, usually at about waist level, and is suspended vertically, with the tip of the scabbard forward, from a long woollen baldric, attached at each end to one of the two rings of the scabbard, and worn crosswise in front of and behind the torso and on the right shoulder. There is a much greater variety of shapes and decorations than that represented by the examples presented in this essay and it can be assumed that these features could be used to place particular examples in time and space.Example 2. A koummya mounted on silver, probably from the first half of the 20th century. (a) The curved blade is of typical profile and is made of ordinary steel up to 3.2 mm thick. (0.125 inch). The scabbard and handle mount are of stamped silver, although, at least for the ferrule, the silver foil has been placed on top of another layer of reinforcing base metal. The visible side of the scabbard is more richly decorated than the inside (not shown). (b) The handle is made of dark-stained hardwood with a silver ornament applied. An enlarged end of the ferrule overlaps the opening of the sheath by about 5 mm. Total length with sheath: 41.1 cm. (16.2 inches); total length without scabbard: 36.8 cm. (14.5 inches); blade length: 21.9 cm. (8.63 inches).
The koummya blades are curved and double-edged, with the part closest to the handle remaining relatively straight while the curvature increases in the half towards the tip. The length of the blade, which is beveled and sharpened, is longer along the concave side than along the opposite convex side. The thickness of the blade decreases from the base of the blade, where it is thickest, to the tip. While the bevels of the edges may give the blade a diamond or lenticular cross-section flattened towards the tip, the cross-section is rectangular at the sharp point. These blades are characterized by their relative thinness and utility, and the presence of bulges or ridges is not typical.
Example 3. A koummya mounted on silver, probably in the mid-19th century. (a) The curved blade is typical for its profile, being made of ordinary steel without pattern, with a maximum thickness of 3.4 mm. (0.14 inch), beveled and sharpened along its convex side for the four-fifths closest to the point and along the opposite concave side for the forty-five percent closest to the point. The wooden scabbard is covered with dark red leather in the center and has finely embossed silver copings at each end. The quality of the decoration is the same on both sides. The bulb handle is made of light brown rhinoceros horn. b) The fort on the inside of the blade is engraved with a paddle wheel steamer which is also equipped with sails. The ferrule of the handle widens to fit the mouth of the sheath. (c) The embossed and engraved silver decoration on the handle and scabbard sometimes includes what appear to be fragments of old Moroccan silver coins. Careful examination of this example, however, indicates that these apparent inclusions are continuous with the adjacent embossed work, and examination of the numismatic references does not reveal exact matches. Perhaps these coins were intended to be used as hallmarks to specify the quality of the silver. Total length with scabbard: 40.8 cm. (16 inches); total length without scabbard: 38.6 cm. (15.2 inches); blade length 24.5 cm. (9.63 inches)
Hills are usually made of a single piece of wood, although other materials such as rhino horn can be found, as well as examples of hills entirely covered with metal. The central area of the handle, usually smooth, is narrowed from the width just before the ferrule (the band adjacent to the root of the blade) and the opposite end of the pommel flares out in a manner sometimes described as reminiscent of an arch or peacock tail. The pommel is usually covered with an engraved metal cap that is secured in place with resin, pins, and/or the peeled end of the tang. The ferrule often expands a few millimetres to slide over the mouth of the sheath, presumably to protect from rain.
Sheaths are lined with two wooden plates, one against each side of the blade, and are usually held together and embedded in decorated metal in the same manner as the handle. A few centimeters from the mouth of the scabbard, in the plane of the blade, are two lugs, one on each side, to which rings are attached for hanging. The curvature of the scabbard follows the curvature of the blade along its entire length and then becomes more pronounced, making a turn of nearly ninety degrees in a few centimeters and ending in a finial. Scabbards usually have a metal reinforcing plate covering the distal third to two fifths of the midline along the convex cutting edge.Example 4. A tourist quality koummya, mid-twentieth century. (a) The curved blade, thin (2.66 mm) and coarsely finished, is beveled along its convex side for the furthest three-fifths and along the concave side for the furthest three-quarters. The handle is made of soft wood with a sheet brass ferrule and a white metal pommel engraved on the exposed side and plain brass on the opposite side. (b) The exposed face of the scabbard is chased brass with overlapping white metal panels and has a wood sheathing. The inside face of the scabbard, as worn, is brass with minimal engraving. Not all “tourist” kummiyas are as close to the traditional form, but the hand work is generally skillful, though fast, executed. Total length with scabbard: 39.7 cm. (15.6 inches); total length without scabbard: 36.8 cm (14.5 inches); blade length: 21.9 cm (21.9 inches). (8.63 inches).
Tourist-quality koummyas are plentiful and can be found in almost every arms and flea market. It is difficult to walk even one block through the Marakkech market without being aggressively offered the opportunity to buy one or more at “bargain” prices. By the end of the 20th century, the style of typical tourist offers had become a little more conspicuous than the example shown, often with white metal mounts sometimes set with colored stones and being generally a little smaller in size, especially thinner. It seems that little effort was devoted to the blades of these knives, while a surprising amount of manual labor was often devoted to the mounts, especially considering that these knives can generally be purchased for about five to ten dollars, even by a weak born person.
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