Item: md1189

Southern Iraq Silver Niello Jambiya Dagger


  • Period 2nd quarter 20th century
  • Culture Southern Iraq
  • Materials Iron, Silver, Leather
  • Overall length 11"
  • Blade 6"


An uncommon dagger, this Southern Iraqi made dagger is of a rather classic form but displays a few idiosyncratic elements. The form overall is of an Arabian peninsula jambiya, but the heavy and substantial size of the dagger and the solid silver fittings with niello decoration point to Southern Iraq or Persian workmanship.

The niello decoration is of inlaid Southern Iraqi marsh scenes and of fine quality. The inscription on the dagger notes that it was presented to "Col. M.V. Bates" U.S.A in 1940. It is likely that Colonel Bates was on mission in the region, especially at a time when the U.S. and Britain were angling to prevent the Germans from moving towards the Persian oil fields crucial to their war effort. Further research remains to be done on Colonel Bates for further information.

The dagger itself is idiosyncratic in design especially as the blade, finely and heavily constructed, is unlike any others we've encountered from this region. It is straight but heavily curves at a 90 degree angle at the tip, and is ridged the entire length into the curve. As a result it is quite powerfully constructed and sharp. The overall form is similar to certain Moroccan koumayyah blades, commonly referred to as having a tiger claw shape.