Moroccan koumiya

length: 15 1/4"
blade: 9"
blade width: 7/8"
grip and pommel: 5 1/2"
guard: 2 1/4"
weight (knife): 7.2 oz
weight (knife & scabbard): 12.6 oz

Come here and I'll tell you of koumiya - this is the Moroccan version of the traditional Arabic jambiya. Once the French and British empires expanded into northern Africa in the early 1800's and the homelands of the Arabs were overrun with white-suited expatriates fancying themselves as desert-wallahs, it became quite popular to send local weaponry back home to amaze and astound the yokels who were not so well travelled and worldweary. Morocco having gone down quite early to the rampages of European colonialism, industries sprang up overnight to supply the Extravagantly Rich White Devils with the native weapons that helped them feel superior to the poor Wogs without the benefit of Sheffield Steel. The tradition continues to this day, and at any time you can still find eBay loaded with dozens of koumiya-shaped letter openers.

This koumiya dagger dates from the late 1800's or early 1900's, and is a nice but not overly fancy example of the type produced at the time. Steel blade, wooden handle bound in brass, leather lined brass scabbard. Blade ricasso is diamond cross-sectioned with rebated edges and a shallow central ridge. What's interesting are the blade edges - it's sharpened for the full length of what westerners would consider the back edge, and only half of the front edge. We're so used to seeing any curved knife held with the curve upwards that we never consider that they were actually held the other way 'round when in actual use. The switchblade fight in West Side Story did more to set back the knowledge of historical knife-fighting than any other film had a right to do ...