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An enameled and copper-hilted khanjar dagger

Number

3499

Origin

Iran

Time

The second half of the 19th century

Technique

Forging, repoussé, embossing, engraving, gilding, enamelingSteel, copper, emerald, rubies, enamels

Material

Steel, copper, emerald, rubies, enamels

Dimensions

Overall length 427 mm; blade length 277 mm

The strongly curved, double-edged blade is made of watered steel with a raised central rib on each side. The blade is sharpened for half of its length from the point. The forte of the blade is engraved with a lion attacking an antelope on one side, and an eagle attacking a swan on the other. The waisted hilt is encased in gilt sheet copper chased in relief with flowers, leaves and dots against a dark blue enameled ground and is also painted in polychrome enamels with flowers that are arranged either singly or in groups to form bouquets and garlands. All flowers are included in different-shaped cartouches surrounded by white and dark red enameled borders. In addition, one side of the hilt is decorated with an enamel portrait medallion depicting a young man, while the other side is engraved and gilded with a portrait of a young woman against a dark blue enameled ground. The upper butt of the hilt is set with an irregularly shaped large emerald in the central bezel mount surrounded by twelve faceted rubies in deep holes. No scabbard. 

COMMENT. Khanjar is the general term, which is applied to different variations of a dagger with a waisted hilt and a curved, double-edged blade in the Islamic world, except for some western areas of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and India. The Arabic term khanjar is widely common in the region, where there are also related local names for such daggers, including the Turkish hançer, the Kurdish xençer, the Azerbaijani xäncär, the Bosnian handžar, and the Tajik xander. In Oman, the United Arab Emirates, as well as in some areas of Saudi Arabia (Al-Hasa) and Yemen (Hadramaut), the word khanjar is used for a traditional curved dagger, which is also commonly known as jambiya. The presented example belongs to the small group of Iranian copper-hilted khanjars that are decorated with polychrome enamel flowers and portrait medallions typical of the Qajar period (1794-1925). Two similar daggers can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (inv. no. 36.25.683) and in the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps in St. Petersburg (inv. no. 0121/789, see Анисимова М.А. Оружие Востока XV – первой половины XX века: из собрания Военно-исторического музея инженерных войск и войск связи. – Санкт-Петербург, 2013. – C. 168, №67). Another one example from a private collection published in Скраливецкий Е.Б., Ефимов Ю.Г., Образцов В.Н. Восточное оружие в частных собраниях. – Санкт-Петербург, 2013. – C. 175, №93. 

LITERATURE: Сиваченко Е. Сталь и Золото: Восточное оружие из собрания Feldman Family Museum = Steel and Gold: Eastern Weapons from the Feldman Family Museum Collection. – Киев, 2019. – С. 244-245, №84.