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Qama - Caucasian dagger

Written by:
Aleks Nemtcev
Updated:
March 6, 2024
dagger qama

Our collection of custom daggers and handcrafted Qama blades offers a unique opportunity to own a piece of history and craftsmanship. Our offerings celebrate the timeless aesthetics and functionality of traditional Qama daggers, catering to those seeking ceremonial significance, or a distinctive addition to their collection.

Among the huge variety of daggers, one unique type can be distinguished. The Qama dagger is a legendary weapon of the peoples of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia. It is impossible to imagine the history of the warlike mountaineers without this masterpiece.

The Qama is a double-edged short sword from the Caucasus region, known for its effectiveness in close combat. Its roots trace back to the ancient warriors of the Caucasus, embodying a legacy of battle-hardened skill and valor.

Qama dagger

The history of Qama dagger

The Qama boasts a unique design with a broad, double-edged blade and a T-shaped handle, facilitating a firm grip. Its compact size yet lethal efficacy in close combat sets it apart from other short swords. The design prioritizes balance and agility, making it a favored choice among warriors of the past.

The dagger gained its popularity in the East in the 17th – 19th centuries. In the Caucasus, it was actively used in the 18th – 19th centuries. It was used:

  • as a weapon;
  • for household affairs.

The dagger was worn from a young age in many countries:

  • Dagestan;
  • Adygea;
  • Ossetia;
  • Chechnya;
  • Kabardino-Balkaria.

qama dagger for sale

After the Caucasian War ended, checkers were worn by those who were in the ranks of the Russian army. This, according to scientists, gave an impetus to the production of Caucasian weapons. The dagger not only complemented the Shachka saber but could also completely replace it. Cossacks who lived in border regions and took part in wars were armed with Qamas. The Caucasian warrior is associated with this dagger. There is a version that it originated from the sword “gladius”, which was famous in ancient Rome.

custom daggers

Blade shape and dimensions

The blade is straight and double-edged, and the tip is tetrahedrally elongated. The blades were worked out in dales, the maximum number was 4 pieces. This contributed to:

  • weight reduction;
  • giving dagger greater strength.

 

Handle materials

The handle was made of the following materials:

  • horns;
  • bones;
  • iron;
  • silver.

The handle has a wide base, and a narrow shaft ended with a pommel, similar to an arch. The handle did not have a guard, rivets were attached to the shank of the blade.

dagger qama

Elements of decoration

There were engravings on the handles and scabbards:

  • wooden, leather-covered, and with a metal tip;
  • iron or silver.

The masters put their own brands. The pattern defined the area of origin and the master. An original ornament was often applied to the scabbard.

qama (dagger)

Different Types of Qama Daggers

The Qama dagger, a prominent symbol of Caucasian weaponry, manifests in various forms, each with unique features tailored to the diverse regions of the Caucasus.
The traditional Qama is characterized by its straight or slightly curved double-edged blade, designed for both thrusting and slicing.

Types vary from the Kinjal Qama, renowned for its intricate handle designs and broader blade, to the Shashka, which sports a more pronounced curve, mirroring the saber’s flexibility in close combat.

The Georgian Qama, distinct with its ornate decorations and slightly longer blade, reflects local craftsmanship and aesthetic preferences. These variations not only signify the Qama’s widespread use but also its adaptation to the distinct martial traditions across the Caucasus.

caucasian qama

How Qama Daggers Were Used in Battle

In battle, the Qama dagger was a versatile weapon, revered for its practicality and effectiveness in close combat. Soldiers and warriors wielded it as a secondary weapon, complementing the longer reach of sabers or rifles. The Qama’s sharp, double-edged blade made it lethal in thrusting stabs and powerful slicing motions, capable of piercing through leather armor and inflicting grievous wounds. Its relatively compact size allowed for quick, agile maneuvers, making it ideal for surprise attacks or in the tight confines of trench warfare. The dagger’s design, with a balanced weight distribution and sturdy grip, provided a significant advantage in hand-to-hand combat, where precision and speed were paramount.

caucasian cama dagger

The Cultural Significance of the Qama in Different Caucasian Regions

The Qama holds profound cultural significance across various Caucasian regions, symbolizing honor, bravery, and the martial prowess of its bearers. In Chechnya, Dagestan, and Georgia, among others, the Qama is not merely a weapon but a cherished heirloom, often passed down through generations as a family relic. It embodies the warrior spirit of the Caucasian peoples, representing a tangible connection to their ancestors and a continuous legacy of resistance and independence. Ceremonial and folkloric practices frequently feature the Qama, underscoring its role beyond the battlefield – as a pivotal element in traditional dances, weddings, and rites of passage. This deep-rooted cultural reverence highlights the Qama’s integration into the societal fabric of the Caucasus, transcending its utilitarian origins.

Famous Historical Figures Who Wielded Qamas

Several renowned historical figures from the Caucasus are celebrated for their mastery and association with the Qama dagger. Among them is Imam Shamil, the legendary leader and warrior of the Caucasian War against the Russian Empire in the 19th century. His skillful use of the Qama, both in personal combat and as a symbol of resistance, has immortalized him in Caucasian history. Another notable figure is Queen Tamar of Georgia, who, despite the rarity of women wielding such weapons in battle, is often mythologized with a Qama at her side, symbolizing her strength and indomitable spirit. These figures, among others, embody the valor and resilience of the Caucasian peoples, with the Qama serving as a potent symbol of their fight for sovereignty and cultural identity.

Queen Tamar

FAQ

How was the Qama traditionally crafted?

Traditional crafting of the Qama involved meticulous forging, tempering, and honing of the blade, often by skilled blacksmiths. The process was a blend of age-old techniques passed down through generations, ensuring a blade of superior quality and durability.

What is the historical significance of the Qama?

The Qama is more than just a weapon; it’s a symbol of the fierce spirit of Caucasian warriors. Its enduring design has seen many battlefields, standing as a testament to the rugged, unforgiving terrain of its origin and the indomitable warriors who wielded it.

Can the Qama be collected or purchased today?

Yes, replicas of the Qama are available through various blade makers and antique dealers. Modern renditions often maintain the traditional design while employing contemporary materials and crafting techniques. However, authentic antique Qamas are rare finds and are prized by collectors.

Conclusion

The qama dagger is a fascinating weapon and tool that has a long history and a rich cultural significance. It is a symbol of the North Caucasian peoples, who have used it for centuries for hunting, fighting, and everyday tasks. It is also a testament to the craftsmanship and artistry of the Caucasian sword makers, who have created stunning examples of qama daggers with intricate decorations and inscriptions.

If you are interested in learning more about the qama dagger, you can visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where you can see two exquisite specimens of qama daggers from the 19th century. You can also browse their online collection and read more about the history and design of these daggers. If you are looking for a unique and authentic Caucasian dagger to add to your collection or to give as a gift, you can visit our online store and browse our selection of qama daggers. Our qama daggers are made of high-quality materials such as steel, Damascus steel, gold, silver, and niello. They come with scabbards and some of them have stamp or markings that indicate their place of origin. Our qama daggers are not only beautiful and functional, but also rare and valuable.

Author: Aleks Nemtcev | Connect with me on LinkedIn

References:

Qama / Wikipedia

Dagger (Qama) Royal Collection Trust

Tamar of Georgia Wikipedia

Georgian edged weapons academia.edu

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  • Valero Marcel

    I own a 60-year-old authentic Qama Dagger, which comes with a very old wooden scabbard covered in leather. The scabbard is adorned with nomadic sewing utensils, including a small knife and an awl. Could you provide an estimate of its value?

    Noblie

    Please write to me at the email address listed on this website and send 2-3 high-quality photos. I may be able to assist you.

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