From the Bissagos Islands, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and the Reguibat Arabs of southern Morroco, 19th -20th century AD

With the arrival of the Portuguese in the late fifteenth century, trade between West Africa and Europe increased, and small kingdoms became established in the forested hinterland of the Guinea coast. They drew their wealth from the goods traded across the Sahara Desert to the north and through the overseas trade to the south. The southern trade route included supplies of firearms. Although the increased availability of guns meant the gradual decline of traditional weaponry in warfare, weapons became more decorative for ritual and ceremonial use.

These daggers show the influence of the Hispano-Moorish civilisation which flourished in the Iberian peninsula and North Africa at the beginning of the second millenium AD. This influence is also reflected in local textile traditions. On the far left is a dagger of the Manding peoples which is stylistically related to various European daggers of the Renaissance period. The two smaller daggers in the centre are from Sierra Leone and Senegal, while the larger one to the right is of a type used by the Requibat Arabs of southern Morocco and stylisitcally less closely associated with the Renaissance model.

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More information


C.J. Spring, African arms and armour (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)


Length: 24.000 cm (1979.Af1.1757 min.)
Length: 24.000 cm (1979.Af1.1757 min.)

Museum number

AOA 1878,11-1.519;AOA 1953 Af25.24;AOA 1979,Af1.1757;AOA 1973,Af18.14



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