What do you call a dagger with a serpentine blade?
February 20, 2005 10:15 PM   Subscribe

I’m trying to find out the proper name of a kind of dagger. I believe it is of Middle Eastern origin but it is not the traditional blade worn by the Bedouin. It often appears in cartoons among the assortment of weapons thrown at someone for, say…entering a cloak-and-dagger bar unwelcomed. I would describe the blade as being serpentine, but trying to google that has left me with mostly fantasy blades that have serpent designs on the handle and/or hilt. What I mean is, the actual blade is serpentine, curving back and forth giving it what could be called a serrated edge. Also, it is possible that some of these daggers might have a zig-zagging blade, but that may be an exaggeration by cartoonists of the original design.

Posted for a friend.
posted by waldo to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
 
I think you're talking about a "kris" knife or blade. Google it for examples.
posted by robbie01 at 10:24 PM on February 20, 2005


A Kris is the first thing that comes to mind.
posted by madajb at 10:26 PM on February 20, 2005


I believe the previous two posters are right and the kris is what you're looking for, but keep in mind it's not strictly Arabian innovation. The Euros had them too, in the form of the flamberge. Weird weapons, but fun to look at.
posted by kavasa at 10:35 PM on February 20, 2005


Drat. I wanted to be the one that pointed out it was a Kris.
posted by krisjohn at 10:56 PM on February 20, 2005


More on the Kris here.
I've also seen this knife referred to as a "keris" or a "Malay Dagger".

We used to have one around when I was a kid (My mum's from Malaysia, where they are an important cultural item). I remember stories about magical kris being sent flying into the knife with assasination missions.
posted by stray at 10:59 PM on February 20, 2005


*night, not knife
posted by stray at 10:59 PM on February 20, 2005


In Malaysia, they call it a keris, I believe. Sumatra, too. Largely ceremonial, as far as I can tell.
posted by squirrel at 2:49 AM on February 21, 2005


There was an ancient Jewish sect (well, Second Temple era) called the Sicarii. They used a blade called, I believe, a sicarus. Spelling might be off on that. Siccarus? It's probably not what you're looking for, but it might be useful in your research.
posted by Alt F4 at 4:08 AM on February 21, 2005


In Malaysia it's called a Kris, I believe. I haven't heard it referred to as a keris.
posted by dazed_one at 9:38 AM on February 21, 2005


These are just the kind of answers that my friend was looking for -- I think that "kris" is probably going to be the term of choice. (My friend became a Metafilter member yesterday, but can't post a question for a week, hence my asking it for him.) Thanks a lot, folks.
posted by waldo at 10:22 AM on February 21, 2005


There's also the Arabian jambiya or jambia (many images here). Detailed views and description of a jambiya of the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq here (for some reason labeled "Persian").

Discussion of other curved-blade knives here, more images here.
posted by languagehat at 11:52 AM on February 21, 2005


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