Left-Handed Dagger or "Main Gauche"

Left-Handed Dagger or "Main Gauche"

c. 1650

Steel, pierced and chiseled

Support: Pierced and chiseled

Overall: 57.2 cm (22 1/2 in.); Blade: 44.4 cm (17 1/2 in.); Quillions: 25.4 cm (10 in.)

Weight: 520 g (1.15 lbs.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance 1916.699

Did you know?

The main-gauche (French for "left hand") was used mainly to assist in defense by parrying enemy thrusts, while the dominant hand wielded a rapier.


For parrying, rapiers were often made with accompanying daggers as a matched set, although the rapier shown here (1916.1810) does not originally belong to this dagger. Daggers such as this one have been misleadingly called "left-handed daggers" even though they could be held in either hand. The guard is richly decorated with chiseled and pierced arabesques, an ornamental design consisting of intertwined flowing lines.

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