Original Sudanese Mahdi Dervish Arm Dagger with Crocodile Leather Scabbard and Arm Loop - Circa 1885
Original item. Only One Available. The loss of General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885 was a great blow to British prestige and yet it took thirteen years for Great Britain to extract revenge at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. The religious leader, the Mahdi, "the chosen or expected one" had died shortly after the Gordon episode and the Caliphate was now led by the infamous and exceptional brutal Khalifa, "the successor".
These tribal natives of the Sudan were a primitive and violent people still living hundreds of years in the past. Their weapons were primitive most consisting of Jezail flintlocks, Kaskara broad swords of Crusader style and very often "arm" daggers that were strapped to the left fore arm for hand to hand fighting.
The Battle of Omdurman in 1898 was a rout, the Long Lee Enfield magazine Rifles and the Maxim machine guns made short work of the over 30,000 strong Dervish Army. The victory was received as a great Colonial achievement back in England and the returning troops treated like heroes.
Here we have a particularly nice Dervish Arm Dagger complete with tooled leather scabbard, bound in Crocodile skin and it even retains its original plaited leather arm ring, designed to be worn around the inside forearm of the left hand. This way it could quickly be drawn by the opposite hand. The grip is of close-grained hardwood, looking almost like some type of bone. The double sided blade, measuring just 5 1/4" has a re-enforcing rib down the entire blade's length.
All in all a very pleasing little weapon, only 9" overall, in lovely condition already 120 years old.
Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah (Arabic: محمد أحمد ابن عبد الله; 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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