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Yemeni Silver-Mounted Dagger (‘Asib)

Arab Peoples, Yemen
19th century

length: 32cm, width: 19cm



private collection, UK

This spectacular jambiya-style dagger known as an ‘asib is from the Bedouin Arabs of Yemen. It has a superb patina and ample signs of age and use. It is among the most elaborate we have seen in that its scabbard is decorated with no less four rows of red glass cabochons when most have just one or two.

The hilt has a slender grip and is decorated with two brass disks cast with Arabic script. The silver to the reverse of the hilt is impressed with what is likely to be the maker’s name in Arabic.

The sheaf in encased with leather and silver mounts. These are set with 13 oval red glass disks to emulate carnelians. There are also bands of finely plaited silver and silver granulation work.

The sheaf has a dramatically extended miniaret-like final or thum which is encased in silver. The interior side of the thum includes four small silver loops to aid with attaching the jambiya to the belt.

The blade is of thin steel with a central rib and has all the usual rust staining.

The back of the sheaf includes an original small knife with a horn handle.

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

The blade no longer fits squarely into the scabbard. This is likely to be on account of shrinkage. But otherwise, the dagger is in fine condition.


Hales, R., Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.
Seiwert, W.D., Jewellery from the Orient: Treasures from the Bir Collection, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2009.
Tirri, A.C., Islamic and Native Weapons of Colonial Africa 1800-1960, Indigo Publishing, 2007.

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