Original 1880 Sudanese Mahdi Dervish Arm Dagger with Sheath
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. In the 1880’s the SUDAN the vast land just south of Egypt was ruled by the Khedive from Cairo. Sudan was basically occupied by native Africans in the south and Arab traders in the north. The coming of the Muslim religious leader known as the "Mahdi" unified the population into an uprising against Egypt.
Britain assisted and allowed General Charles Gordon to become the Governor of Sudan on behalf of the Egyptian Khedive. The result was that after a long siege the entire Khartoum garrison including General Charles Gordon were butchered, leading to much embarrassment for the British Government. It took 14 years, until 1898 for General Gordon to be avenged with the complete destruction of the Muslim Army at the Battle of Omdurman.
The Mahdi army, numbering over 100,000, was made up of many tribes of various origins and used primitive broad swords fashioned on those the European Crusaders had carried back in the 13th and 14th centuries. These were known as Kaskaras and were carried along with a large shield. In addition these fighters wore arm daggers intended for use in assassinations or in the heat of hand to hand combat being easily accessible.
Here we have a particularly nice Dervish Arm Dagger complete with leather and part crocodile skin scabbard which culminates in a "fish tail" at bottom and bears a fore arm loop. The blade features unusual form and bears slight engraved decoration. The grip is also covered in crocodile skin and the pommel is in fact a second "piercing blade" designed to deliver a fatal blow to the top of an opponent's skull. All in all a very pleasing little weapon, only 16" overall, in lovely condition already 120 years old!
Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah (Arabic: ???? ???? ??? ??? ????; August 12, 1844 June 22, 1885) was a religious leader of the Samaniyya order in Sudan who, on June 29, 1881, proclaimed himself the Mahdi (or Madhi), the messianic redeemer of the Islamic faith. His proclamation came during a period of widespread resentment among the Sudanese population of the oppressive policies of the Turco-Egyptian rulers, and capitalized on the messianic beliefs popular among the various Sudanese religious sects of the time. More broadly, the Mahdiyya, as Muhammad Ahmad's movement was called, was influenced by earlier Mahdist movements in West Africa, as well as Wahabism and other puritanical forms of Islamic revivalism that developed in reaction to the growing military and economic dominance of the European powers throughout the 19th century.
From his announcement of the Mahdiyya in June 1881 until the fall of Khartoum in January 1885, Muhammad Ahmad led a successful military campaign against the Turco-Egyptian government of the Sudan (known as the Turkiyah). During this period, many of the theological and political doctrines of the Mahdiyya were established and promulgated among the growing ranks of the Mahdi's supporters, the Ansars. After Muhammad Ahmad's unexpected death on 22 June 1885, a mere six months after the conquest of Khartoum, his chief deputy, Abdallahi ibn Muhammad took over the administration of the nascent Mahdist state.
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