The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Ear-dagger
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Spain
  • mid 16th century
  • Steel, filed and etched
  • Length: 23.2 cm, blade
    Weight: 0.205 kg
  • A736
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Ear-Dagger, made in one piece of steel. The pommel is formed of a pair of disks angled outwards and engraved with cross-hatching on the inner sides; the grip, of baluster form, is split into four parts and joined at the centre; the double-edged blade is of diamond section deeply etched on the squared ricasso with an arabesque.

    Spanish, mid 16th century.

    Exhibited: Musée Rétrospectif, 1865, no. 1934. L' Art Ancien I, no. 26; De
    Beaumont Catalogue, no. 80 and pl. 5; Laking, European Armour III, fig. 826.

    Provenance: Comte de Nieuwerkerke

    The formation of the pommel in this type of dagger comes from the Middle East and follows the lines of Ottoman yataghans. The type was known in Italy as ‘daga all Levantia’ or ‘alla Stradiotta’; see also A737.

    According to R. Lorente, all metal 'ear-daggers' with the ricasso of the same length on each side of the blade, such as A736, are Spanish (Gladius, III, 1964, pp. 67-87). A design for what appears to be one was submitted by Cristofal Joan as his masterpiece on entry to the Guild of Goldsmiths in Barcelona in 1538 (Hayward, Virtuoso Goldsmiths, 1976, pl. 236).

    A similar all-steel dagger appears in the portrait of Matthäus Schwarz of Augsburg, dated 1542, probably by Christoph Amberger, in the Thyssen collection, Madrid. Schwarz was the author of a manuscript Trachtenbuch, showing him in the clothes worn by him on all the memorable occasions from his early childhood (Brunswick, Herzog-Anton-Ulrich-Museum; A. Fink, Die Schwarzschen Trachtenbücher, 1963).