Mahdist War of 1885. 9 7/8" d.e curved blade decorated both sides with thuluth calligraphy, typical of iconic for Mahdist daggers, One piece black horn hilt with expanded base and pommel carved as a stylized human head with banded headdress, perhaps a turban. The combination of a human figure with a Mahdist blade suggests a follower with traditional rather than Moslem beliefs. The head may represent the Mahdi himself who was self-declared and perceived to be divine. Throughout history, armies were comprised of soldiers involved for a spectrum of reasons from fanatical religious dedication to the security of food, lodging and a modest pay. The dagger evidently served a Mahdist soldier who enlisted for the latter considerations. Rare.