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Knife (Flyssa) with sheath MET 36.25.785ab 002june2014.jpg
A shorter type of flyssa in the form of a long knife or short-sword
Type Sword, Dagger
Place of origin Kabylia
Service history
Used byAlgierRegency2.svg Deylik of Algiers
Flag of Labez Kingdom2.png Kingdom of Beni Abbas
Other Algerian tribes
WarsSeveral wars involving Central Maghrebi tribes and nations including:
Invasion of Algiers (1775)
Invasion of Algiers in 1830
French conquest of Algeria

The Flyssa is a traditional Sabre of Algeria produced and used during the 19th century and earlier. [1] It originates from the Kabyle Iflissen Lebhar tribal confederacy.



These weapons have blades of various sizes from 12 to 38 inches (30 to 97 cm), and can be classed as varying between long knives and full-sized swords. Whatever their size, flyssas are characterized by narrow, straight-backed, single-edged blades, which come to an acute point. The blades of sword-sized flyssas often widen gradually around the point of percussion, which enhances their cutting ability. The blades are often decorated with chiselled patterns, which are sometimes inlaid. The hilt has no guard and the junction between blade and hilt is made by a metal bolster. The distal part of the hilt is almost always of wood covered with brass, usually decorated with repoussé and chasing, and has a characteristic downturned projection forming the snout of a stylised animal head at the 'pommel' end (though the pommel and grip are made in a single piece - the identity of the animal is unknown, with dog, camel and chimaera all being suggested). [2]


The blade's name (Flyssa) was given by the French based on the name of the tribe which it originated from (Iflissen). In pre-colonial times, the sword was called "Ajenwi" a word derived from the name of the city of Genoa from which the blades which were used in its manufacture were imported from or the term "Asekkin" from Arabic ("Sekkine").

Related Research Articles

A sword is a bladed melee weapon intended for cutting or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

Hilt Handle of a sword or similar weapon

The hilt of a knife, dagger, sword, or bayonet is its handle, consisting of a guard, grip and pommel. The guard may contain a crossguard or quillons. A tassel or sword knot may be attached to the guard or pommel.

<i>Jian</i> Chinese double-edged sword

The jian is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. The first Chinese sources that mention the jian date to the 7th century BCE, during the Spring and Autumn period; one of the earliest specimens being the Sword of Goujian. Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 45 to 80 centimeters in length. The weight of an average sword of 70-centimetre (28-inch) blade-length would be in a range of approximately 700 to 900 grams. There are also larger two-handed versions used for training by many styles of Chinese martial arts.

The yatagan or yataghan is a type of Ottoman knife or short sabre used from the mid-16th to late 19th centuries. The yatagan was extensively used in Ottoman Turkey and in areas under immediate Ottoman influence, such as the Balkans and the Caucasus.

Shamshir Type of Persian/Iranian curved sword

A shamshir is a type of Persian/Iranian sword with a radical curve. The name is derived from the shamshīr, which means "sword" in the Persian language. The curved "scimitar" sword family includes the shamshir, kilij, talwar, pulwar and nimcha.

Kampilan Sword

The kampilan is a type of single-edged sword, traditionally used by various ethnic groups in the Philippine archipelago. It has a distinct profile, with the tapered blade being much broader and thinner at the point than at its base, sometimes with a protruding spikelet along the flat side of the tip. The design of the pommel varies between ethnic groups, but it usually depicts either a bakunawa (dragon), a buaya (crocodile), a kalaw (hornbill), or a kakatua (cockatoo).

The talwar, also spelled talwaar and tulwar, is a type of curved sword or sabre from the Indian subcontinent.

Nimcha Type of sabre from North Africa

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Viking sword Sword

The Viking Age sword or Carolingian sword is the type of sword prevalent in Western and Northern Europe during the Early Middle Ages.


The shashka or shasqua, is a kind of sabre; single-edged, single-handed, and guardless backsword. In appearance, the shashka is midway between a typically curved sabre and a straight sword. It has a slightly curved blade, and can be effective for both cutting and thrusting.

Parrying dagger

The parrying dagger is a category of small handheld weapons from the European late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. These weapons were used as off-hand weapons in conjunction with a single-handed sword such as a rapier. As the name implies they were designed to parry, or defend, more effectively than a simple dagger form, typically incorporating a wider guard, and often some other defensive features to better protect the hand as well. They may also be used for attack if an opportunity arises. The general category includes two more specific types, the sword breaker and trident dagger.

Bichuwa Dagger

The bichuwa or bichawa is a dagger, originating from the Indian subcontinent, with a loop hilt and a narrow undulating sharp blade. It is named for its resemblance to the sting of a scorpion, for which the Hindi name is bichuwa. The weapon was based on the maduvu, or horn dagger created in South India, and many bichuwa have blades which retain the shape of buffalo horns. Early examples of the bichuwa come from the medieval southern empire of Vijayanagara. Being relatively easy to make, the bichuwa has persisted into the 20th century as a decorative dagger.

Barong (sword) Type of Sword or knife

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Dahong palay Type of Sword

The Dahong Palay, literally "rice leaf" in Tagalog, is a single-edged sword from the Philippines, specifically the Southern Tagalog provinces of Batangas and Mindoro. The sword's name could either be a reference to the similarity of its shape to the leaves of rice or to local green "dahong palay" snakes, purported to be extremely venomous. The snake is probably the green specimen of the Philippine Pit Viper, Trimeresurus flavomaculatus, though it is sometimes identified as various relatively harmless green snakes, like vine snakes. The dahong palay was originally used as a farmer's tool, for clearing thick grass growths. However, during the Philippine revolution of 1896, farmers from Batangas soon came to favor it for its slashing and thrusting "feel".


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Niabor Type of Sword, Cutlass

Niabor is a curved sword from Borneo, a characteristic weapon of the Sea-Dayaks.

Bangkung Type of Sword

The bangkung or bangkon, is a short sword originating in the Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines. The bangkung was used primarily by the Moro people of the Sulu and is not associated with Moros in other areas such as Mindanao, although it is sometimes found in coastal regions. The bangkung is a slashing weapon, meant to deliver hacking type blows. While the bangkung is a very effective sword, it was not popular unlike the panabas and the pirah and for this reason it is one of the most rarely found Moro edged weapons. Few were produced and even fewer survive.

Pichangatti Knife

Pichangatti is a broad-bladed knife of the Kodavas of Karnataka, India. The characteristic of the pichangatti is its silver hilt with bulbous-shaped pommel in the shape of a parrot's head. The pichangatti features in the traditional male dress of the Kodavas.

Odi katti is an indigenous weapon of war and tools to the Kodava people of Kodagu, in the state of Karnataka, India. The ayudha katti is developed from an implement used to cut through dense undergrowth. Unlike most blades, the odi katti is worn without a sheath.

Turko-Mongol sabers Type of Cavalry Sabre

These swords were used by the Turkic nomads of the Eurasian steppes primarily between the 9th and 14th centuries. One of the earliest recorded sabres of this type was recovered from an Avar grave in Romania dating to the mid 7th century. Although minor variations occur in size and hilt, they are common enough in design across 5 centuries that individual blades are difficult to date when discovered without other context.


  1. Stone, George Cameron (1999). A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times. Courier Dover Publications. p. 234. ISBN   0-486-40726-8.
  2. Evangelista, N. (1995) The Encyclopedia of the Sword, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 254