A sword with zoomorphic hilt




India (probably Rajasthan)


18th century


Forging, engraving, piercing, gilding, damascening, gem-setting


Steel, silver, gold, turquoise, wood, velvet


Overall length (without scabbard) 812 mm; blade length 690 mm; scabbard length 725 mm

The straight, single-edged blade is made of watered steel with a ricasso, a false edge, a reinforced tip and two deep fullers on each side. The steel hilt consists of a curved grip, scroll quillons, triangular-shaped short langets, a thin knuckle-bow and a pommel in the form of a horse's head set with turquoise eyes. The grip is covered with silver, excepting the spine, which is decorated in gold koftgari with a chevron design called "lehria". The remaining parts of the hilt are ornamented with gold floral motifs in the same technique. The wooden scabbard covered with red velvet. The parcel-gilt silver scabbard mounts are pierced and engraved with depictions of various deities and flowering plants. The scabbard locket has a narrow band, which is fitted with a small hanging loop.

COMMENT. This rare sword comes from the former Jacques Desenfans collection. The elegant form of its hilt was inspired by the horse-headed jade hilts of the Mughal ceremonial khanjars that were very popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. For swords with similar-shaped hilts, see Butterfield & Butterfield: The Dr. Leo S. Figiel Collection of Mogul Arms: August 24, 1998 in San Francisco: [Auction Catalog]. – San Francisco, 1998. – P. 58, no. 2029; Elgood, R. Arms & Armour at the Jaipur Court: The Royal Collection. – New Delhi: Niyogi Books, 2015. – P. 147, no. 99; Figiel, L.S. On Damascus Steel: Persian and Indian Sword Blades from 1600-1800. – Atlantis, 1991. – P. 104-105; Hales, R. Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion. – London, 2013. – P. 167, no. 410; Nordlunde, J. A Passion for Indian Arms: A Private Collection. – Copenhagen, 2016. – P. 195, no. 86.

LITERATURE: 1) Bonhams: The Jacques Desenfans Collection. European, Islamic, Indian and South East Asian Works of Art and Arms & Armour. Thursday 10 April 2008, London: [Auction Catalogue]. – London, 2008. – Lot 220; 2) 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. 372-373, №141.