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A gold-mounted khanjar dagger

Number

3260

Origin

Mughal Empire (probably Hyderabad)

Time

Late 17th or early 18th century

Technique

Forging, chasing, openwork carving, damascening, gem-setting

Material

Steel, gold, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, wood, velvet

Dimensions

Overall length (without scabbard) 371 mm; blade length 240 mm; scabbard length 253 mm

The slightly double-curved, double-edged blade is made of watered steel with a reinforced tip and two shallow fullers on each side. The forte of the blade on each side is decorated with a gold koftgari floral cartouche in the form of a lobed arch topped by a palmette. The gold hilt of pistol-grip form is set in the traditional Indian kundan technique with numerous gems arranged in floral motifs. Total 58 rubies, 56 emeralds, and 4 diamonds. The wooden scabbard is covered with red velvet and then encased in sheet gold decorated with different open-work floral designs on each side. The upper and lower areas of the scabbard are chased in relief with flowers and foliage. The end knob of the scabbard is shaped like a faceted bud.

COMMENT. Khanjar is a type of Indian dagger, which is characterized by a pistol-grip hilt and a double-edged, usually double-curved blade. There were various hilt forms, but the simplest and most common was a hilt with a strongly curved, rounded pommel and a symmetrical base formed as a pair of scroll-shaped quillons resembling mustache. The khanjar was extremely popular in Mughal India, where they are apt to be more elaborately decorated than any other type of dagger. Mughal emperors, princes and dignitaries were worn jewelled khanjars as luxury accessories and as status symbols. The emperor often presented to courtiers expensive daggers as a part of the dress of honour called hilat. The Mughal khanjar hilts were commonly made from jade, while the gold-hilted examples are extremely rare. Presumably, this dagger comes from the armoury of the Nizam of Hyderabad. A very similar example, probably made by in the same workshop, was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Doha on March 19, 2009 (see Sotheby’s: Arts of the Islamic World. Doha, 19 March 2009: [Auction Catalogue]. – London, 2009. – Lot 316) and published later by Robert Hales (see Hales, R. Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion. – London, 2013. – P. 17, no. 40). The presented item is an outstanding work not only of weapons craft, but also of decorative-applied and jewelry art of the Mughal Empire.

LITERATURE: 1) Bonhams: Islamic & Indian Art. Part II: Indian Art Including Contemporary Indian and Pakistani Paintings. Thursday 6 April 2006, London: [Auction Catalogue]. – London, 2006. – Lot 523; 2) Сіваченко Є. Холодна зброя Сходу з колекції Олександра Фельдмана: [фотоальбом]. – Харків, 2009. – С. 33; 3) 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. 450-451, №179.