‘Sas leppas’: Sardinia’s sharpest art

‘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

Sardegna, Coltello lungo con fodero ("leppa de chintu"), Museo della Vita e delle Tradizioni popolari sarde - Sardinia, long knife with scabbard ("leppa de chintu"), Museum of Sardinian Life and Folk Tradition

Long knife with scabbard ("leppa de chintu"), late 18th century - early 19th century, brass, steel, and horn, 63 cm long, 50 cm blade, brass scabbard; Museum of Sardinian Life and Folk Tradition, Nuoro

Coltello lungo ("leppa de chintu"), Pinacoteca nazionale, Cagliari - Long knife ("leppa de chintu"), National Gallery, Cagliari

Long knife ("leppa de chintu"), late 18th century - early 19th century, brass, steel, and horn, 58 cm long, 44 cm blade, National Gallery, Cagliari

Laconi, Oristano, cartolina, 1905 - postcard

Pre-1905 postcard, Laconi, Oristano

Sardegna, Coltello lungo ("leppa de chintu"), Museo del coltello sardo, Arbus (Medio Campidano) - Long knife, Sardinian knife museum

Long knife ("leppa de chintu"), late 18th century - early 19th century, brass, steel, and horn, 54.5 cm long, 42 cm blade; brass scabbard; Sardinian Knife Museum, Arbus (Medio Campidano)

Coltello lungo con fodero ("leppa de chintu"), fine XVIII-inizio XIX secolo, Museo del coltello sardo, Arbus (Medio Campidano) - Long knife, Sardinian knife museum

Long knife ("leppa de chintu"), late 18th century - early 19th century, brass, steel, and horn, 54.5 cm long, 42 cm blade; brass scabbard; Sardinian Knife Museum, Arbus (Medio Campidano)

Sardegna Coltello lungo ("leppa de chintu"), Dorgali, (Nuoro) - Sardinia long knife

Long knife ("leppa de chintu"), Dorgali, mid-19th century, steel, silver, and brass, 39.5 cm long, 26 cm blade; private collection, Dorgali (Nuoro)

Sardegna, Coltello lungo ("leppa de chintu"), Dorgali, (Nuoro) - Sardinia, long knife

Long knife ("leppa de chintu"), Dorgali, mid-19th century, steel, silver, and brass, 39.5 cm long, 26 cm blade; private collection, Dorgali (Nuoro)

Sardegna Coltello lungo con fodero ("leppa de chintu"), Museo del coltello sardo, Arbus (Medio Campidano) - long knife with scabbard, Sardinian knives museums

Long knife with scabbard ("leppa de chintu"), 19th century, brass, steel, and horn, 42 cm long, 29. 5 cm blade, brass scabbard; Sardinian Knives Museum, Arbus (Medio Campidano)

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

‘Sas leppas’: Sardinia’s sharpest art

Sardinia

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