4105

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Yemeni Silver-clad Dagger (‘Asib)

Yemen
late 19th century

length: 35cm, width: 23cm, eright: 658g

Available - Enquire

Provenance

UK art market

This fine jambiya-style dagger known as an ‘asib is from the Bedouin Arabs of Yemen. It has a good patina and ample signs of age. The hilt and sheaf or scabbard are encased entirely in silver.

The blade is short, curved and characteristically weak. The scabbard and hilt on the other hand are elaborate and showy. In essence, this weapon was more for show and ceremony, and functioned as a form of jewellery for men, getting around Koranic injunctions against the wearing of jewellery by mean (weapons, of course, were permissible.)

The sheaf particularly is decorated with bands of fine, applied silver wire work, granulation work, and silver scrolls.

The sheaf has a dramatically extended miniaret-like final or thum which is encased in silver. The sheaf  is fitted with three silver loops to allow it to be  attached to a belt.

A related though less elaborate example is illustrated in Seiwert (2009, p. 338).

The blade fits into the scabbard relatively well. The dagger is in fine condition.

References

Hoek, C., et al, Ethnic Jewellery: From Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, Pepin Press, 2004.

Seiwert, W.D., Jewellery from the Orient: Treasures from the Bir Collection, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2009.

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