Edged Weapons

Ainu knife, Kuril Islands, North Pacific, between Japan and Russia. Part of a bear mandible is attached to the sheath, collected 1896. PM 96-3-60/47866.1
Quaddara (sword), probably Persian (Iran), collected in Bagdad, Iraq in 1937. PM 986-30-60/14524
Kris, Bali, Indonesia, 1780. The kris of Indonesia has a characteristic wavy blade and ornately decorated handle. The Balinese kris seen here dates from 1780 and purportedly belonged to a regional king. PM 48-58-70/2995
Nzappa Zap (axe-like blade), Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. PM 14-9-50/85399
Telek (arm dagger), Algeria. Blade was made in Italy probably around the 1600s. PM 975-32-50/11872
Dagger, Tlingit, Alaska. Abalone shell for eyes teeth and joints; combined man and eagle with crest forms the pommel and a face is on the guard area, collected in 1867. PM 69-30-10/2171

Edged weapons, including daggers, knives, axes and swords, are probably the most common weapons of all. Before the advent of metalworking, people made the blades and points of such offensive weaponry from wood, bone and stone. Blades, handles, and scabbards all lend themselves to adornment and cultures vary in the part of the weapon they chose to embellish.

Decoration may symbolize a warrior’s cultural identity or status and is often prominently featured on a part of the weapon that can be displayed easily. Some edged weapons became powerful symbols of authority. Throughout Europe and Africa, persons of importance were once trailed by an assistant carrying a sword or large knife. Dress swords were valued not as weapons, but as symbols of their wearer’s high status. Some of the earliest forms of money were miniature or nonfunctional knives.

Thirty-six items on display