A dagger is a basic thrust weapon. It has a short blade and is held with one hand. Chiefly, a dagger is used to strike jabs, however, some daggers can cut, like kitchen knives. The dagger has been used since the Stone Age. It is a primary type of edged weapon throughout the entire world.
It is the most frequent question with daggers: how is a dagger different from a knife. The easiest way to find an answer is trying to solve a seemingly easy problem, such as opening an ordinary preserve can with a knife or with a dagger.
There are plenty of types of daggers. For instance, a mid-sized or big-sized Caucasian dagger or a German hunting dagger will solve the above task easily. However, a knife will tackle the task with difficulty, if at all. A large knife that will do the job must have some other properties, different from those of an ordinary knife. Such properties will require to qualify such a knife as a hatchet or a machete.
As we’ve already said, daggers are used all around the globe. And in many countries, daggers feature their own identifying characteristics.
As far back as 20 thousand years ago, hunters concluded that they needed a short thrusting weapon that is easy to carry and to use in situations that don’t allow wielding a club or using a spear. Thus, the dagger was born.
The first daggers were made of wood and bone. Chances are, unprocessed horns of animals were initially used as daggers. For sure, the bone dagger could not come near the long spear in efficiency. However, it was not meant to compete with another weapon. The dagger did have some virtues in its own right: small weight and handy dimensions. Moreover, it didn’t hamper carrying or using a spear, bow or club. The dagger was successfully operated as both a close combat weapon and reserve weapon.
The metal age saw the introduction of a copper dagger. As distinct from wooden and bone daggers, the copper daggers of the Mycenaean era already had a blade edge – which meant some advance of workability, however, still quite small. That said, the cheapness of the dagger became a very distinctive advantage. The crafting of a dagger required much less metal – still a very scarce resource – than production of a sword. Moreover, dagger’s service life was much longer – because a shorter blade meant a bigger durability.
The dagger’s “operational economy” was a crucial feature during the Iron Age as well. Forging a short thrusting blade required much less skill from a bladesmith. Furthermore, dagger’s popularity grew because the Iron Age warriors were fighting mainly in the ranks. And a warrior fighting in rank and file needed a very compact blade – small enough as not to cling to comrades’ outfit.
Direct application of the dagger has not changed since the time it was invented. Most often, a dagger is used for self-defense or covert attack. A dagger is easy to whip out or hide. If carried openly at the waist, a dagger may serve as a decoration. Special-purpose daggers were also used in religious rites and ritual sacrifices.
The dagger is a mighty weapon, a great gift and an all-purpose utensil. There are plenty of varieties of daggers. Our specialists will help choose a dagger best suited to your purposes. They will answer any of your questions via the Noblie email or online chat at any time.
The dagger remains popular today because it is practical for many routine tasks – from opening preserve cans to piercing holes in leather or textile. The structure and durability of the dagger makes it a suitable weapon for self-defense. Daggers are easily concealable and light, so they are easier to carry and operate.
There are many types of daggers that feature different designs and uses. The poignard, parryng dagger, the Scottish dirk, the seax and the stiletto are some examples of historic European daggers. The trench knife is an example of the 20th-century inventive dagger-making. Bagh nakh, jambiya and keris are some exotic daggers from Asia featuring a blade that is curved, wavy or claw-like.
Here are some examples of historic European daggers:
Poignard or poniard: a long, lightweight thrusting knife with a continuously tapering blade, historically worn by noblemen or knights.
Rondel dagger: a stiff-bladed dagger popular in Europe from the 14th century onwards, used as a utility tool or as a weapon by a variety of people from merchants to knights.
Stiletto: a dagger with a long slim blade, primarily used as a stabbing weapon.
Hunting dagger: a long (18 to 30 inches) dagger originating from fancy hunts of the German nobility.
Knightly dagger: a tapered dagger with a recessed face and a down-turned guard with beaded terminals, popular throughout the Middle Ages.
A quillon is an individual bar on the either side of the crossguard. A quillon dagger has a guard with two forward-pointed faceted quillons. A slightly downturned guard is typical of these medieval daggers. They emerged around the 12th century and were common for knights and warriors over a long period of time, even up to the 18th century. The shape of this dagger’s guard was similar to the crossguards (double quillons) of knightly swords of the time and was designed to parry enemy swords in close combat. The quillon dagger was often carried as a companion sidearm to a sword and was popular with soldiers in various countries, from Norman knights to Cromwell’s Roundheads.
Knightly dagger was a tapered dagger popular throughout the Middle Ages. It had a recessed face and a down-turned guard with beaded terminals.
Rondel dagger was a stiff-bladed dagger popular in Europe from the 14th century onwards. It was used as a utility tool or as a weapon by a variety of people from merchants to knights.
Poignard was a long, lightweight thrusting knife with a continuously tapering blade, historically worn by noblemen or knights.
The kard is the Persian dagger with a straight, single-edged blade and a guardless hilt. Historically, they were worn as everyday utility knives. These daggers feature blades with a flat tang of the same width as the blade, which is covered with scales traditionally made of ivory or horn. With its point reinforced to penetrate chain mail, this dagger was mostly used as a stabbing weapon.
A dirk is a long-bladed thrusting dagger. Historically, it was the personal sidearm of Highlanders and of Scottish officers during the Age of Sail. The naval dirk was originally used as a boarding weapon. With its straight blade with a pointed tip, it was primarily devised to be a thrusting or stabbing weapon. Historically a symbolic traditional and ceremonial weapon of the Highland warriors, the dirk made its way into the naval ceremonies in the 19th century, and is worn today as a badge of office by naval officers in various countries around the globe.
A push dagger, or push dirk, is a close-combat short-bladed thrusting dagger. It has a “T” handle that is held in closed-fist hand to deal thrusting or stabbing strikes. The push dagger originated in the 19th-century Southern USA and was popular with civilian owners because it was an easily concealable weapon. In the second half of the 19th century daggers also appeared in Britain and Europe, but by the end of the century they had become unpopular due to the appearance of cheap firearms, namely pistols and revolvers. Push daggers are still sold as “tactical” or self-defense weapons, particularly in the USA.
The seax, or sax, is known as the Viking dagger. It is a large fighting knife or, rather, a short sword carried by warriors of the Viking era. This dagger was one-handed and single-edged, with a narrow through-tang, and usually without a bolster or pommel. The seax’s blade was longer and heavier than that of a normal dagger, but was compact enough to be wielded with one hand, which made it a convenient hunting and fighting weapon. Once widespread in Northern Europe, the seax was carried by the Vikings, Saxons, Angles and other Germanic tribes.
A jambiya is an Arabic dagger that has a short curved blade with a medial ridge. It originated in Yemen and have spread over the Middle East and South Asia. Its curved blade is devised for mighty slashing strikes, while the central ridge running across the blade on both sides gives the jambiya an excellent degree of sturdiness. For centuries, jambiya knives have been a symbol of social status in Yemen and other Arabic countries. It is deemed that the jambiya should only come out of the sheath in extreme cases of conflict. This dagger is also used in traditional events, such as dances.
Historically, daggers have been used for centuries in the Arab world, as a self-defense weapon and as an indicator of status. The handle of an Arabic dagger (jambiya) tells the status of the man who wears it. These curved daggers are today the most recognizable symbol of Arab culture and of national pride among a huge portion of the population of Arabic countries. No longer carried for self-defense, the jambiya is nowadays mostly worn by men as an accessory to their clothing and as a tribute to their tribal past, with ornament on the dagger reflecting the importance and tribal background of the owner.
The katar, a type of push dagger from India, is the most famous and characteristic of Indian daggers. It has an H-shaped horizontal hand grip with the blade positioned above the user’s knuckles. The katar normally has a short, triangular blade that is wide at the hilt and tapers in straight lines to the point. The handle is made up of two parallel bars connected by two or more cross-pieces. The katar is a forceful thrusting weapon that was sometimes used against chain mail and known as “armour-piercing”.
A khanjar is a traditional short curved dagger that originated in Oman and has since spread to the rest of the Middle East, South Asia, and the Balkans. Khanjar’s blade takes the shape of the letter “J”. Once a defense weapon, nowadays the khanjar is used solely for ceremonial and practical purposes. The khanjar, a symbol of national pride in Oman, appears on the country’s flag and currency. Khanjars form part of Omani male traditional attire and are a sign of status: the noble and wealthy men wear a khanjar made of gold or silver.
Originally a single-edged weapon, by mid-18th century the dirk more commonly had a double-edged blade, thus becoming similar to the dagger. Nowadays, the dirk is associated with the ceremonies and status weapons of the Navy, while the dagger formally has a ceremonial status in some Army units. Legally, there is no difference between a “dirk” and a “dagger”: they are used synonymously and are treated the same under the law.
The tanto is the traditional Samurai dagger: it is a single or double-edged dagger with a length between 15 and 30 cm. The tanto can be used for stabbing or for slashing. This dagger was preferred by the Samurai for close-range combat where powerful piercing or stabbing strikes were required. Samurai appreciated the tanto’s strong blade for the ability to pierce through armor. Nowadays, American and European interest in Japanese martial arts has created a demand for the tanto dagger as an important component of traditional martial culture of the East.
The qama, the Caucasian long dagger or short sword, is the traditional weapon of the peoples of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia. The name arguably comes from the Persian “ghameh” (a short two-edged sword) or from the Turkish “kama” (dagger). The qama has a wide, straight, double-edged blade and is carried by men from a young age. This type of dagger usually has no crossguard. The qama is the traditional attribute of the Caucasus warriors and of Cossacks as well, symbolizing heroism and dignity. The qama is the national weapon of Georgia.
Daggers with an Obsidian blade are considered the sharpest in the world. Obsidian fractures with extremely sharp edges and, due to this, was used to manufacture cutting and piercing tools. However, Obsidian is not fit for making kitchen knives as such knives are extremely coarse and brittle.
In terms of California law, a “dagger” means a knife that can be used as a stabbing weapon. In California, daggers, dirks and other sheath knives must be carried openly and cannot be concealed.
In New York, if you carry a knife on your person for any reason, you must ensure the blade is shorter than four inches.
Daggers have played a significant role throughout history, both as weapons and symbols of power. They’ve been used in rituals, ceremonies, and as sidearms in battle.
The curve in some daggers, like the Kris or the Jambiya, can be attributed to cultural design choices and specific combat techniques that benefit from a curved blade.
Both are types of daggers, but a dirk is typically longer with a broader blade, often associated with Scottish culture. A stiletto, on the other hand, has a very narrow, pointy blade, designed primarily for piercing.
Like all blades, daggers should be kept clean, sharp, and dry. Regular cleaning, occasional sharpening, and protection from moisture will ensure your dagger remains in top condition.
Daggers have been used since prehistoric times, with examples made of flint, bone, and other materials. Some of the oldest discovered date back several thousand years, making it hard to pinpoint a single “oldest” dagger.
Many daggers, especially those not intended for combat, serve ceremonial or symbolic roles. Their ornate designs can signify status, wealth, or cultural significance.
As you can see, daggers are not just simple knives, but diverse and complex weapons and tools that have been used by humans for thousands of years. They reflect the culture, history, and art of the people who made and used them. They also have different advantages and disadvantages depending on their shape, size, material, and style.
We hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something new about the types of daggers. If you are interested in buying or collecting daggers, you can visit our online store and browse our selection of high-quality daggers. We have daggers from different regions, periods, and categories, such as qama daggers, dirks, stilettos, rondel daggers, and more. You can also contact us if you have any questions or requests.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more blog posts about daggers and other blades!
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