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Types Of Daggers: Ultimate Guide

Written by:
Aleks Nemtcev
Updated:
March 7, 2024
types of daggers

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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.

daggers

Characteristics of a Dagger

Blade: The blade is usually double-edged, allowing it to cut or pierce from both sides. Its length can vary, but it is typically no longer than a foot.
Point: The point is sharp, making it ideal for penetrating. This distinguishes daggers from most other types of knives, which may have only one sharp edge and a blunt point.
Handle: The handle is designed to allow a firm grip and is often equipped with a hilt or guard to protect the hand during use.

dagger

What is a dagger good for?

The 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.

daggers

Are daggers still used today? The dagger remains popular today because it is practical for many routine tasks – from opening preserve cans to piercing holes in leather or textiles. The structure and durability of the dagger make it a suitable weapon for self-defense. Daggers are easily concealable and light, so they are easier to carry and operate. 

hunting dagger

Are there different types of daggers?

Many types of daggers feature different designs and uses. The poignard,  parrying dagger,  the Scottish dirk, the seax, and the stiletto are some examples of historic European daggers. The trench knife is an example of 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. 

custom daggers

What are European daggers?

European daggers, predominantly used from the early Middle Ages to the Renaissance, are short-bladed stabbing weapons designed for thrusting. Distinctive for their pointed, often double-edged blades, these tools served as secondary weapons in close combat for knights and soldiers. Variants include the rondel, stiletto, and Baselard, each characterized by unique blade shapes, hilt designs, and cultural significance. Daggers functioned not only as military tools but also as symbols of status and personal defense weapons. Craftsmanship varied, reflecting regional styles and technological advancements in metallurgy and decorative arts.

Here are some examples of historic European daggers:

Bollock Dagger

The Bollock Dagger, also known as the Ballock Knife, emerged in Europe during the 13th century and remained popular through the 18th century. Characterized by its distinctive hilt with two lobes at the guard, which resemble testicles, the dagger has a slender, tapering blade optimal for thrusting. Variants exist in blade length and hilt design, reflecting its use across various social classes, from commoners to nobility. Craftsmen often decorated the hilt and pommel with elaborate motifs. The Bollock Dagger served both as a weapon and a symbol of status.

Bollock Dagger

Misericorde dagger

The Misericorde, derived from the Latin “misericordia” meaning mercy, was a narrow, pointed dagger used during the Middle Ages. Its primary purpose was to deliver a death blow to a seriously wounded knight, an act of “mercy” to relieve the knight from suffering. The dagger’s design, featuring a slim, stiletto-like blade, enabled it to penetrate the gaps of armor or chain mail efficiently. As armor improved, the Misericorde became an essential tool on the battlefield, allowing knights to dispatch their adversaries quickly. Besides its practical use, it also held a symbolic role in chivalric tradition, embodying the mercy shown to a defeated but noble opponent.

Misericorde

Misericorde dagger

Ear Dagger

The Ear Dagger is a medieval European weapon, notable for its peculiar guard design resembling human ears. Originating around the 14th to 15th centuries, this dagger featured a straight, typically double-edged blade suited for thrusting. The distinctive “ear” shaped protrusions at the guard not only provided an aesthetic appeal but also enhanced the user’s grip, offering greater control and protection for the hand. Ear Daggers were used both in combat and as a sidearm for personal defense. Their unique design reflects the period’s blend of functionality and artistry in weaponry, marking them as a fascinating example of medieval arms.

ear dagger

Poignard dagger

The Poignard, often referred to as Poniard, is a type of slim, pointed dagger that originated in Europe during the Middle Ages and gained popularity through the Renaissance. Characterized by its slender, sharp blade and often ornate hilt, the Poignard was designed primarily for thrusting and was used both as a weapon and a symbol of social status. Its needle-like point was effective for penetrating clothing or gaps in armor. Nobles and civilians alike carried Poignards for self-defense, and it was also employed in more sinister roles, such as dueling and assassination. The Poignard’s blend of functionality and elegance made it a common accessory in the courts and streets of Europe.

Poignard

Rondel dagger

The Rondel Dagger is a type of European dagger that gained prominence in the 14th and 15th centuries, distinguished by its circular or disk-shaped guard and pommel. Designed primarily for thrusting, its long, narrow blade was ideal for piercing chain mail or the gaps in plate armor. The Rondel’s hilt, often cylindrical, provided a solid grip for applying force, making it a favorite among knights and soldiers for close combat. The simplicity and effectiveness of its design, along with the variety in ornamentation from utilitarian to highly decorative, reflect its widespread use across various social classes during the Middle Ages. The Rondel Dagger remains an iconic symbol of medieval weaponry, representing the era’s technological and artistic advancements.

rondel daggersRondel dagger

Stiletto

The  Stiletto is a slender, pointed dagger that originated in Italy during the late Middle Ages, renowned for its needle-like blade designed primarily for stabbing. Its thin profile allows for easy concealment, making it a favored weapon for discreet and surprise attacks. Historically used for penetrating the gaps in armor or heavy clothing, the Stiletto became infamous as a tool for assassinations, particularly in Renaissance Italy where political and personal rivalries often turned deadly. The weapon’s name, derived from the Italian ‘stilo,’ meaning a stake or pointed instrument, aptly reflects its piercing capability. Over time, the term “stiletto” has also come to describe various slim and pointed tools and heels, a testament to the dagger’s enduring legacy in both weaponry and wider culture.

stiletto dagger

Baselard

The Baselard Dagger originated in the Swiss regions around Basel during the 14th century. Distinctive for its H-shaped hilt and double-edged blade, the Baselard varied in length but typically featured a blade between 6 to 12 inches. Its design catered to both stabbing and slashing. The symmetrical grip provided a comfortable hold, making the Baselard popular among civilians for self-defense and as a status symbol. By the 15th century, its use spread across Europe, evident in its frequent depiction in art and literature of the period. Craftsmen often used precious metals and intricate designs to embellish the hilt, reflecting the owner’s wealth and status.

Baselard dagger

Hunting dagger

The long (18 to 30 inches) dagger originated from fancy hunts of the German nobility.

The Hunting Dagger is a specialized tool designed for hunters, particularly popular from the medieval period through the Renaissance. This dagger featured a sturdy, often single-edged blade, capable of handling the diverse demands of hunting, from dispatching the game to preparing it for consumption. Its design varied from simple and utilitarian to ornate and symbolic, with some featuring elaborate engravings and decorations depicting hunting scenes or wildlife. The Hunting Dagger was not only a practical tool but also a status symbol for nobles who engaged in hunting as a sport. Its robust construction allowed for cutting through thick hide and vegetation, making it an indispensable companion for hunters across various cultures and eras. Whether used for survival or sport, the Hunting Dagger reflects the deep relationship between humans and the natural world.

german hunting dagger

Anelace Dagger

The Anelace Dagger, prominent in Europe during the 14th to 17th centuries, was notable for its large, broad blade and simple, functional design. Often referred to as an “arm dagger,” it featured a straight, double-edged blade typically around 10 to 20 inches in length. The Anelace’s substantial size made it effective as a sidearm for both civilian and military use, offering capabilities akin to a short sword. It commonly bore a cruciform hilt with a round or wheel pommel. Soldiers and knights favored the Anelace for its versatility in various combat scenarios, while civilians appreciated it for personal defense and utility.

Knightly dagger

The  Knightly Dagger,  also known as the Knight’s Dagger, served as a standard sidearm for medieval European knights. This dagger was not merely a weapon but a symbol of a knight’s status and chivalry. Typically featuring a broad, double-edged blade suitable for cutting and thrusting, the Knightly Dagger was a versatile tool in battle and personal defense. Designed to complement the longsword, it was used when the primary weapon was impractical or lost. The hilt often included a crossguard and a pommel, echoing the design of contemporary swords. Beyond its martial utility, the Knightly Dagger was a piece of regalia, often ornately decorated to reflect the owner’s heraldry and status. Its use and symbolism extended beyond the battlefield, representing the knight’s oath to defend the helpless and uphold justice.

Knightly dagger

Quillon dagger

What is a quillon dagger? A quillon is an individual bar on 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, 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.

quillon dagger

Dirk knife

What is a dirk knife? 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.

scottish dirk

dirk knives

Is a dirk the same as a dagger?

A dirk is a type of dagger, but not all daggers are dirks. Originating in Scotland, the dirk is a long, straight-bladed dagger historically carried by Scottish Highlanders. It served as both a personal weapon and a tool, featuring a typically single-edged blade with a slight curve. The term “dagger,” however, refers to a broader category of double-edged, pointed knives used for stabbing and thrusting. Daggers come in various forms and have been used worldwide for different purposes, from combat and ceremonial roles to symbols of power. While a dirk falls under the umbrella of daggers due to its shape and use, its specific cultural context, design, and historical usage distinguish it from other types of daggers.

Originally a single-edged weapon, by the 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.

dirk

Sgian-dubh dagger

The Sgian-dubh is a small, single-edged knife of Scottish origin, traditionally worn as part of Highland dress alongside the kilt. Its name derives from the Gaelic for “black knife,” referring either to the color of the handle or its concealed nature. Originating in the 17th century or earlier, the Sgian-dubh features a blade typically 3 to 4 inches long, with a distinctive, often ornately carved handle made from materials like wood, horn, or later, synthetic substances. Initially a utility knife or a concealed weapon, it evolved into a ceremonial item, worn tucked into the sock with only the hilt visible. The design and ornamentation of the Sgian-dubh can signify clan affiliations or personal status.

Sgian dubh daggers

Sgian dubh

Seax (Viking Dagger)

What are Viking daggers called? 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.

 

sax viking dagger

viking seax

Image Credit: Dragon`s Breath Forge

Puñal dagger

The Puñal is a traditional Spanish dagger, known for its sleek, straight, and often double-edged blade, designed primarily for thrusting. The term “Puñal” literally translates to “dagger” in Spanish, encompassing a variety of styles and designs that have evolved over centuries. These daggers were common in Spain from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and were used for both personal defense and as a dueling weapon. The Puñal is typically characterized by a simple yet elegant design, with a hilt that is sometimes ornately decorated, reflecting the rich cultural and martial heritage of Spain. Its use and symbolism extend beyond mere combat, often appearing in traditional dances and ceremonies, representing honor and bravery.

Punal dagger

Punal daggers

Cinquedea

The Cinquedea is a wide-bladed dagger that originated in Italy during the Renaissance, specifically in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its name, meaning “five fingers,” refers to the blade’s width at the guard. Typically measuring between 10 to 28 inches, the Cinquedea features a short, broad blade that tapers to a pointed tip, optimal for thrusting and cutting. This dagger is renowned for its elaborate ornamentation, with intricately decorated hilts and blades often featuring engravings and inlays. Primarily a civilian weapon, the Cinquedea was a symbol of status and wealth among Italian nobles and merchants. Its artistic design reflects the era’s emphasis on beauty and craftsmanship, merging functionality with the period’s flourishing artistry.

Cinquedea

Fairbairn–Sykes Fighting Knife

The Fairbairn–Sykes Fighting Knife is a legendary dagger developed during World War II for British commandos and special forces. The Fairbairn–Sykes Fighting Knife originated in the United Kingdom. Created by William E. Fairbairn and Eric A. Sykes, experienced in close-quarters combat, this double-edged weapon is optimized for thrusting with a slender, pointed blade that ensures deep penetration. Its distinctive design, featuring a foil grip and a symmetrical stiletto blade, has made it an emblem of military prowess and covert operations. Highly valued for its effectiveness in silent attacks and close combat, the Fairbairn–Sykes remains a symbol of military daggers and has influenced numerous modern tactical knives.

Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knife

Ancient daggers

Ancient daggers, dating back to prehistoric times, are among the earliest metalwork artifacts, signifying a leap in human warfare and craftsmanship. These weapons, found across various ancient civilizations like Egypt, Rome, and Mesopotamia, featured blades fashioned from bronze, iron, or flint. Typically used as secondary weapons or ceremonial objects, ancient daggers had diverse forms, from the leaf-shaped blades of the Bronze Age to the ornate, symbol-rich daggers of pharaohs and emperors. They reflect the technological, artistic, and societal evolution of early cultures, serving roles in warfare, ritual, and status representation.

Flint daggers

Flint daggers, prevalent in prehistoric societies, represent one of humanity’s earliest tools and weapons. Crafted through knapping, a process of chipping away material to produce a sharp edge, these daggers were made from flint or similar stones. Their usage spanned from basic cutting and hunting tasks to ceremonial and ritualistic roles. The design, simple yet effective, typically featured a pointed tip for stabbing and a sharpened edge for slicing. Flint daggers reflect the ingenuity and adaptability of early humans, showcasing the evolution of toolmaking skills long before the advent of metallurgy.

Flint dagger

Bronze Age Daggers

Bronze Age daggers, emerging with the advent of metalworking between 3300 and 1200 BCE, marked a significant evolution in weaponry and toolmaking. Crafted from bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, these daggers featured increased durability and sharper edges compared to their stone predecessors. Commonly characterized by leaf-shaped blades, they served as weapons, status symbols, and ceremonial objects. The widespread use of Bronze Age daggers across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East reflects their importance in ancient warfare and society, and their varied designs and decorations denote a rich diversity of cultural expressions.

bronze Age Daggersbronze Age Dagger

 

Mycenaean bronze daggers

Iron Age Daggers

Iron Age daggers, prevalent from around 1200 BCE, signify an advancement in metallurgical technology with the use of iron, which was harder and more readily available than bronze. These weapons, varying widely in design across different cultures, featured both straight and curved blades, often with a sharp point for stabbing and a keen edge for cutting. Iron daggers served as essential tools in warfare, hunting, and daily life. Their distribution and evolution mirror the spread of ironworking skills and the complex trade networks of the period, reflecting the societal and technological strides of the Iron Age civilizations.

Iron Age Daggers

Acinaces

The Acinaces, a dagger or short sword prominent in ancient Persian and Scythian cultures, is notable for its distinctive, slightly curved blade. Originating in the 7th century BCE, this weapon was a symbol of power and status, often depicted in ceremonial contexts and buried with the elite. The acinaces typically featured a hilt with no guard and were carried in a richly decorated scabbard. Its design influenced and was influenced by neighboring regions, reflecting a blend of cultural interactions. As a military tool and ceremonial object, the acinaces represent a key element in the armamentarium of ancient Near Eastern civilizations.

Acinaces dagger

Kopis

The Kopis, an ancient Greek weapon, was a large dagger or short, forward-curving sword renowned for its distinctive, single-edged blade designed for effective chopping and slashing. Originating around the 6th century BCE, its shape allowed for forceful cuts, making it a formidable weapon in close combat. The kopis was often compared to the straighter xiphos, another Greek short sword, but its curved design set it apart, offering a tactical advantage in certain fighting situations. Used by cavalry and infantry alike, the kopis played a significant role in Greek warfare and influenced weapon designs across the Mediterranean.

kopis

kopis dagger

Pugio

The Pugio, a dagger of ancient Roman design, was a standard sidearm carried by Roman soldiers from the late Republic to the mid-Imperial era. It featured a wide, leaf-shaped blade typically 7 to 11 inches long, ideal for stabbing and thrusting in close combat. The Pugio had a distinctively decorated sheath and handle, often reflecting the status of the bearer. While primarily a military weapon, its sturdy construction also made it useful for various utility purposes. Despite variations in form over time and region, the Pugio remained emblematic of Roman martial culture, complementing the primary weaponry of legionaries and officers alike.

 

pugio

Sica dagger

The Sica is an ancient dagger or short sword of Thracian, Dacian, and Illyrian origin, most famously used by gladiators in the Roman Empire. Characterized by its curved shape and typically featuring a single-edged blade, the Sica was designed for close combat, allowing for effective slicing and stabbing motions, particularly aimed at getting around an opponent’s shield or armor. Its distinct shape and feared effectiveness made it a symbol of treachery and subterfuge in Roman literature. The Sica’s design varied in size and form but consistently maintained its reputation as a weapon of choice for both gladiatorial combat and clandestine warfare in the ancient Mediterranean world.

sica dagger

Middle Eastern daggers

Middle Eastern daggers exhibit a diverse range of styles, reflecting the region’s rich cultural and historical tapestry. Common types include the Jambiya, Khanjar, and Kard, each with distinctive features. Jambiyas, with their curved, double-edged blades, are prominent in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, often bearing ornate hilts and sheaths. The Khanjar, iconic in Oman and the Arab world, displays a similarly curved blade with a distinctively shaped hilt and is a symbol of prestige and manhood. The Kard is a straight-bladed dagger, valued for its precision and craftsmanship. These daggers are not only weapons but also cultural symbols, often intricately decorated with calligraphy, precious metals, and stones, reflecting the region’s artistic heritage and the owner’s status.

Kard

What is a Persian dagger called?

Kard

The Kard is a traditional Persian dagger known for its distinctive straight, single-edged blade. Originating in the regions of Persia and India, the Kard was both a weapon and a tool, revered for its effectiveness and craftsmanship. The blade, typically made of high-quality steel, was designed for precision cutting and thrusting, with some featuring intricate patterns like Damascus or Wootz steel. The hilt often lacked a guard, focusing on simplicity and functional grip. Kards varied from utilitarian designs to highly ornate versions embellished with precious metals and gemstones, reflecting the owner’s status and the rich artistic heritage of the region. Used in various ceremonial, domestic, and combat contexts, the Kard is a symbol of Persian and Mughal metallurgical and cultural sophistication.

kard dagger

Jambiya

What is an Arabic dagger called? A jambiya is an Arabic dagger that has a short curved blade with a medial ridge. It originated in Yemen and has 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.

jambiyajambiya dagger

Why do Arabs carry daggers?

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 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. 

arabic dagger

 

Khanjar

What is a khanjar dagger? 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.

Khanjar dagger

khanjar dagger

Asian daggers

Asian daggers embody a diverse array of designs, reflecting the rich tapestry of cultures across the continent. Notable types include the Indian Katar, with its H-shaped horizontal grip; the Japanese Tanto, a blade worn by samurai for close combat; and the Filipino Kris, with its distinctive wavy blade. These daggers were not merely weapons but symbols of social status, spiritual emblems, and art pieces. Craftsmanship often involved elaborate decorations and the use of precious materials. From the steep mountains of Nepal to the archipelago of Indonesia, Asian daggers represent a confluence of utility, artistry, and tradition, each with its unique historical and cultural significance.

Katar dagger

What is an Indian dagger called? The Katar, or Katara, is a unique Indian dagger known for its H-shaped horizontal hand grip, which results in the blade sitting above the user’s knuckles. This design offers a more stable and powerful thrust compared to traditional daggers. Originating in the early 14th century, the Katar became a symbol of social status and bravery among Indian warriors and nobles. Its blade ranges from straight to wavy, with some featuring elaborate designs and inlays. The Katar was not only a formidable weapon in close combat but also a piece of art, often richly decorated with precious metals and stones. Its distinctive design and cultural significance make the Katar a prominent symbol in South Asian weaponry and heritage.

katar dagger

Push dagger

What is a push dagger? The  Push Dagger,  originating from the Indian subcontinent as the Katar, is a small, concealable thrusting weapon designed for close combat. Characterized by its “T” shaped handle, which allows the blade to extend from the user’s fist, it delivers powerful, direct thrusts. Traditionally used for piercing armor and as a symbol of social status, the push dagger evolved over centuries and spread globally. In the 19th century, variations became popular in the United States and Europe as easily concealed self-defense weapons. Today, it persists as a tactical tool, revered for its compact design and effectiveness in personal protection.

push daggers

push dagger

Tanto

What are Samurai daggers called? The Tanto is a traditional Japanese dagger known for its short, sturdy blade, typically less than 30 cm in length. Originating in the Heian period, it was primarily designed as a stabbing weapon but also effective for slashing. The Tanto features a high-quality, single, or double-edged blade with a sharply pointed end, exemplifying the renowned Japanese craftsmanship in sword-making. It was carried by samurai both as a weapon and a symbol of their status. Over time, the Tanto evolved in style and form, with variations like the Shobu-zukuri and the Hira-zukuri. Its cultural significance and aesthetic appeal continue to be celebrated in martial arts and Japanese artistry, embodying the spirit and skill of the samurai warrior.

tanto

japanese tanto

tanto dagger

Kris dagger

The Kris (or Keris) is a distinctive, asymmetrical dagger from Southeast Asia, most closely associated with Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Southern Thailand, and the Philippines. Noted for its wavy blade, the Kris is as much a spiritual item and cultural symbol as it is a weapon. The number of waves on the blade varies, with each design holding different symbolic meanings. Traditionally, it was a personal, heirloom weapon, believed to possess magical powers and to be imbued with the spirit of its ancestors. Master craftsmen, known as “empu,” created Kris with meticulous care, often using intricate patterns and incorporating precious and symbolic materials. The Kris has been recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, highlighting its cultural significance in the region.

Kris dagger

Phurba dagger

The Phurba, also known as the Kila, is a ritual dagger deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism and Himalayan traditions. It symbolizes the spiritual power to conquer and immobilize negative forces, obstacles, and evil spirits. The Phurba has a three-sided blade representing the transformation of negative energies and the trinity of compassion, wisdom, and skillful means. Its handle often depicts the face of Vajrakilaya or a wrathful deity, embodying the dagger’s protective and purifying qualities. While not a weapon in the conventional sense, the Phurba serves as a spiritual tool in ceremonies, grounding and consecrating sacred spaces, and is a vital element in many tantric rituals. Its design, symbolism, and use reflect the rich esoteric traditions of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Phurba dagger

Qama dagger

What is a Caucasian dagger called? The Caucasian dagger, known as the  Qama,  is a type of short, double-edged blade that originates from the Caucasus region, an area at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. The Qama is more closely aligned with Eastern and Middle Eastern daggers in design and usage. It features a straight blade and is historically associated with the peoples of the Caucasus Mountains, including Georgians, Chechens, and Circassians. The Qama was traditionally used for close combat and as a utility tool, often reflecting the region’s unique blend of Eastern and European influences in its craftsmanship and decorative motifs. Its design, cultural context, and historical use exhibit a distinct blend of the diverse cultural influences present in the Caucasus region.

qama dagger

The name of the Qama arguably derives from the Persian “ghameh” (a short two-edged sword) or the Turkish “kama” (dagger). This dagger, with its wide, straight, double-edged blade, is a traditional armament carried by men from a young age in the Caucasus region and among Cossacks, symbolizing heroism and dignity. Typically, the Qama lacks a crossguard. It is not only a ceremonial weapon but, also a dagger used for self-defense, embodying both the cultural heritage and the personal security of its bearer.

qama dagger

African daggers

African daggers encompass a wide variety of styles and designs, reflecting the continent’s diverse cultures and traditions. From the intricately carved ivory handles of the Congo to the symbolic Tuareg Takouba from the Sahara, each type of dagger has its own unique characteristics and cultural significance. African daggers often serve multiple purposes: as weapons, symbols of social status or maturity, and ceremonial or ritual objects. They frequently feature elaborate decorations and are made from a range of materials, including wood, metal, and leather. The craftsmanship of African daggers is a testament to the artisanal skills and cultural heritage of various ethnic groups across the continent, each contributing to the rich tapestry of African weaponry and art.

african daggers

Shotel dagger

The Shotel is a curved sword or dagger originating from Ethiopia, characterized by its sickle-like shape designed to reach around an opponent’s shield and inflict damage. It’s a double-edged blade with a pronounced curve, more extreme than that of a scimitar, making it effective for slashing attacks. Traditionally used by Ethiopian warriors and still carried for ceremonial purposes in some regions, the Shotel is a symbol of bravery and skill. The unique shape requires specialized training to wield effectively, reflecting the sophisticated martial tradition of Ethiopian warriors. The Shotel’s distinctive design represents a significant part of Ethiopian cultural heritage and military history.

Shotel dagger

Seme dagger

The Seme, sometimes referred to as a Sime or Simi, is a traditional dagger or short sword originating from East Africa, particularly among the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania. It features a leaf-shaped, single-edged blade that tapers sharply to a point, designed primarily for thrusting and cutting. The Seme is not just a weapon but a cultural symbol, often playing a significant role in social rites and ceremonies, such as the transition of a boy into a warrior. The handle is typically made from wood or animal horn, and the blade from local steel or iron. The craftsmanship of the Seme, with its practical design and symbolic importance, reflects the martial culture and artistic heritage of the Maasai and other East African communities.

Seme dagger

Flyssa dagger

The Flyssa is a traditional dagger or short sword from the Kabyle people in the mountainous regions of Algeria. Characteristic of the 19th century and earlier, the Flyssa features a long, slender blade that can reach up to a meter in length, often with a slightly curved form tapering to a sharp point. The blade’s spine typically bears intricate engravings and decorations, showcasing the Kabyle’s skilled craftsmanship. While it can serve as a status symbol and ceremonial object, the Flyssa was primarily a weapon of war and defense, reflecting the martial traditions of the Kabyle people. Its unique design and cultural significance make the Flyssa a distinctive example of North African weaponry and artisanry.

Flyssa dagger

Jile dagger

The Jile is a traditional dagger from the Horn of Africa, predominantly used by the Afar people of Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. This double-edged dagger features a curved blade, usually around 15 to 30 centimeters long, designed for both slashing and thrusting. The Jile is not just a weapon but a cultural symbol, often carried as part of traditional attire and used in various ceremonies and dances. Its handle and sheath are typically adorned with intricate decorations, signifying status and personal achievement. The craftsmanship of the Jile reflects the Afar’s nomadic heritage and their skills in metalwork, making it a distinctive and revered item in East African culture.

jile dagger

Billao

The Billao is a traditional dagger prominent among the Somali people. Characterized by its leaf-shaped, double-edged blade, the Billao is designed primarily for thrusting and slashing. The blade often features a slight curve, enhancing its cutting effectiveness. This dagger is more than a weapon; it’s a cultural symbol, commonly carried by Somali men as part of their traditional attire. The hilt is typically made from wood or horn, and the sheath is crafted from leather, often adorned with intricate patterns and decorations. The Billao’s significance extends into social and cultural realms, symbolizing bravery and status within the Somali community and serving as a key element in traditional ceremonies and rites of passage.

Billao

What is the sharpest dagger in the world? 

The title of “sharpest dagger in the world” doesn’t belong to a specific historical or traditional dagger but is more likely to be attributed to a modern, custom-made blade crafted with the latest technology and highest quality materials. Contemporary metallurgy and precision sharpening techniques enable smiths and manufacturers to create exceptionally sharp edges.

One material known for its extreme sharpness is obsidian. Obsidian blades can be made through a process called knapping, which fractures the material to create an edge many times sharper than even high-quality steel surgical scalpels. However, obsidian isn’t practical for many applications due to its brittleness.

obsidian dagger

What is a dagger legally? 

Legally, the definition of a dagger can vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction and the specific laws of a country or region. Generally, a dagger is defined as a type of knife with a very sharp point and usually two sharp edges, designed or capable of being used as a stabbing or thrusting weapon. In many legal contexts, it is characterized by the length of the blade, the presence of a sharp point, and the design intent as a weapon rather than a tool.

In some places, daggers may be classified under broader categories like “concealed weapons,” “dirks,” or “dangerous knives.” Laws often specify restrictions on the carrying, concealment, sale, or possession of daggers. For instance, in some jurisdictions, it’s illegal to carry a dagger concealed on one person, while in others, the mere possession of a dagger may be restricted or subject to certain conditions.

Legal definitions are crucial for law enforcement and judicial purposes, as they determine what constitutes a weapon and what is permissible for individuals to carry or own. Because these laws can vary greatly and are subject to change, individuals need to consult the specific laws and regulations in their area to understand how a dagger is legally defined and regulated.

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. See more:  US knife laws.

naval dirks

FAQs section

What’s the historical significance of daggers?

Daggers hold profound historical significance as multifaceted objects across various cultures. As some of the earliest tools and weapons used by humans, they were essential in combat, particularly as secondary weapons for soldiers and knights. Beyond their martial utility, daggers symbolized status, power, and bravery, often reflecting the wealth and position of their owners through elaborate designs and precious materials. They played roles in religious and ceremonial contexts, and due to their ease of concealment, they became the preferred tools for assassination and subterfuge, influencing countless historical events. From ancient rituals to their depiction in art and literature, daggers have been enduring symbols of human conflict, craftsmanship, and cultural identity, embodying both the artistic and violent aspects of human history.

Why are some daggers curved?

Some daggers are curved to enhance their cutting and slashing efficiency. The curvature allows a larger portion of the blade to contact the target with a single motion, increasing the cut’s length and depth. This design is particularly advantageous in close combat situations where swift, effective strikes are crucial. Curved daggers, such as the Persian Kard or the Indian Katar, often reflect the specific combat techniques and cultural preferences of the regions where they originated. Additionally, the curve can add structural strength to the blade and, in some cases, is integral to the weapon’s aesthetic and symbolic value, making it not only a functional tool but also a work of art and a cultural emblem.

What’s the difference between a dirk and a stiletto?

A dirk and a stiletto are both types of daggers but differ significantly in design and historical use. The dirk, originating from Scotland, is a long thrusting knife with a straight blade, often single-edged, and was traditionally carried by Scottish Highlanders. It served a practical role in combat and daily life, as well as a symbol of personal honor. The stiletto, on the other hand, has Italian roots and is characterized by its very thin, needle-like point and narrow blade, designed primarily for stabbing. Its primary historical use was as a weapon for piercing armor or clothing in close combat and for stealthy assassinations, owing to its ease of concealment. While both are stabbing weapons, the dirk’s broader, longer blade makes it more versatile for various uses, whereas the stiletto’s slender profile specializes in precise, penetrating thrusts.

How should I care for and maintain my dagger?

Proper care and maintenance are crucial for preserving the functionality and appearance of your dagger. Regularly clean the blade with a soft, dry cloth to remove dirt and fingerprints; moisture can cause rusting. For carbon steel blades, apply a light coat of oil or  Renassaince wax  to prevent rust. Store the dagger in a dry place, preferably with a sheath to protect the edge. Sharpen the blade as needed to maintain its cutting efficiency, using a whetstone or appropriate sharpening tool. Handle the dagger with care, avoiding harsh impacts that could damage the blade or handle. Regularly inspect for signs of wear or damage, and address issues promptly to ensure the dagger remains a reliable and attractive tool or collectible.

Which dagger is the oldest known in history?

The oldest known daggers date back to the Copper Age, around 5000 years ago. The most notable among these ancient relics is the Ötzi the Iceman’s dagger, discovered with his remarkably well-preserved remains in the Italian Alps in 1991. Ötzi’s dagger, approximately 5,300 years old, features a flint blade and an ash wood handle, showcasing the early craftsmanship and the use of natural materials to create functional weapons. This ancient artifact provides invaluable insight into the technology, materials, and lifestyles of early human societies. It represents not only one of the earliest known daggers but also a significant archaeological link to our prehistoric past.

Why are some daggers so ornate?

Some daggers are ornate due to their symbolic significance, reflecting the status, wealth, or power of the owner. Throughout history, an elaborately decorated dagger could signify nobility, military rank, or personal achievement. Craftsmen would embellish daggers with intricate patterns, precious metals, and gemstones, transforming them from mere weapons into works of art. In many cultures, these ornate daggers served ceremonial or ritualistic purposes, their decoration adding to the solemnity and importance of the events in which they were used. The craftsmanship and artistry involved in creating these ornate daggers also demonstrate the skills and cultural values of the artisans and societies that produced them, making each piece a historical and cultural artifact beyond its practical utility.

Damascus daggers

Conclusion

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 knife blog posts about daggers, knives, and other blades!

Author: Aleks Nemtcev | Connect with me on LinkedIn

References:

Medieval Weapons & Armour medievalbritain.com

Anelace vs Anlace  thecontentauthority.com

Daggers & Short Swords of the Middle Ages workingtheflame.com

Pugio novaroma.org

Roman Military Dagger ecommons.cornell.edu

Thracian Sica academia.edu

Cinquedea metmuseum.org

 

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comments

  • alay4d

    Wow Thanks for this write-up i find it hard to get smart content out there when it comes to this content thank for the content site

  • Lea McMullen

    Thank you for this information. I inherited an antique Koummya, but I don’t know how to price it or sell it. I know nothing about it, but it’s old & looks like it was used. It’s in a carved wood & brass (not sure of metal) sheath. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

  • Paul

    Really interesting

  • Ethan

    Terrific overview of dagger types! I’ve always been intrigued by the blend of history and functionality in blade design. It’s fascinating to see how each type of dagger served a specific purpose in its time, from the sleek stilettos to the robust dirks.

  • Dariy

    The article is very interesting, but it needs to be proofread because there are many words that are clearly out of context, incorrectly translated, etc.

    Noblie

    Thank you for your comment! If you are referring to the translation into Ukrainian, please note that it was not done by a professional translator, but generated automatically by Google.

  • BladeMaster92

    Great post on the different types of daggers! I’ve always been fascinated by the history and design of these blades. Out of curiosity, do you have a personal favorite dagger style? And which one would you say has the most interesting origin story?

  • Dylan_Hartley_1982

    The simplest option is to search for daggers of this type on eBay. This will help you get an idea. The second option is to turn to knife forums. And if the dagger is truly rare and expensive, you can contact a specialized auction house for consultation.

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