Dagger (Kindjal) with Sheath

Date: ca. 1840–50

Culture: Caucasian, possibly northern Dagestan

Medium: Steel, wood, silver, niello

Dimensions: L. with sheath 23 1/8 in. (58.7 cm); L. of sheath 18 3/4 in. (47.6 cm); W. 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm); Wt. 1 lb. 4.8 oz. (589.7 g); Wt. of sheath 12 oz. (340.2 g)

Classification: Daggers

Credit Line: Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix, 1881

Accession Number: 81.1.599a, b


This dagger has two central grooves in its steel blade. The handle and sheath have been decorated in niello, a black substance containing silver, copper, lead, and sulphur, that is a striking contrast to the silver ground. In the Caucasus, daggers such as this one were inseparable companions of Caucasian men and used for a variety of purposes, such as weapons, cork screws, and paper cutters, as well as dance accessories. Nineteenth-century photographs of Caucasian men in native dress frequently include such daggers, which are attached to their belts in a diagonal manner.