‘Sas leppas’: Sardinia’s sharpest art

Sardegna, Coltello lungo con fodero (

- Long knife with scabbard ("leppa de chintu"), 19th century, steel, horn and brass, 29 cm long, 20 cm blade, brass scabbard; National Gallery, Cagliari

‘Sa leppa’ is a type of saber that the people of Sardinia used to carry in the past century, hanging from their belts.

Approximately fifty centimeters long, typical models have a slightly curved tip and sometimes a blade decorated with small embellishments. In the late 18th century, historian Ozieri Matteo Madao described it in one of his books as “a terrible weapon” used by the men in Logudoro (the central-northern area of the island), “brilliant warmongering men, inclined […] to the military arts”.

Made by talented forgers and brilliant silversmiths in various towns on the island – Dorgali, Tempio, Santu Lussurgiu, Fonni and Gavoi being some of the most famous – ‘sas leppas’ had horn or wooden handles, often coated in silver or brass leaf, and were considered a sign of social distinction.

Photos via: “Metalli. Storia, linguaggio e innovazione in Sardegna”, Illisso Edizioni-Fondazione Banco di Sardegna, Nuoro 2013

November 12, 2014

‘Sas leppas’: Sardinia’s sharpest art