Flyssa 1 (Algeria)

Code:  AN5

A small flyssa from Algeria, c. early 1800’s.  This blade is engraved and has brass inlay, with none missing as is sometimes the case. The hilt is shaped in the traditional form of a mythic creature typical of Berber design.  Also unusual is an intact and complete wooden scabbard, with two of four brass bands; it is in overall poor condition. 

The flyssa is the typical knife of the Kabyle people, a branch of the Berbers who reside in Algeria and Morocco.  The name “Flyssa” is drawn from the “Iflissen Lebhar”, one of the major tribal confederations of the Kabyle.  The eastern most group of the Kabyle is the At Zouaou who live in the Djurdua range of Little Atlas mountains in NE Algeria This tribe that has specialized as the armorers and creators of the flyssa. Among young men of the Kabyle, the acquisition of his sword (or dagger in later periods) was a sort of rite of passage. Elaborate symbolism decorates the flyssa, and these symbols (amuletic geometric figures) are a key to the folk religion in these regions.



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