A gold-inlaid kard knife






The second half of the 18th century


Forging, chiseling, inlaying


Steel, iron, gold, walrus ivory


Overall length 346 mm; blade length 210 mm

The straight, single-edged blade is made of watered steel. The forte of the blade on each side is decorated with a thin iron panel in the form of a lobed half-arch topped by a half-palmette. Both panels are inlaid with raised gold foliage. In addition, they are chiseled in relief with a half-cartouche each contains an Arabic inscription against a reserved gold ground. The inscriptions read: "My success is from Allah alone" (Quran 11:88), "For victory comes from Allah alone" (Quran 8:10 and 3:126). One side of the blade bears another gold-inlaid inscription "The work of Muhammad Reza". The blade spine is chiseled and inlaid with a floral cartouche, a palmette and arabesques (eslimi). The iron bolster is decorated en suite with the blade, but with the inclusion of three small cartouches containing Arabic inscriptions "O the Benevolent ", "O the Holy" and "O beloveds". The fourth cartouche is damaged. The straight hilt consists of two scales with concealed rivets. The iron grip strap is inlaid with gold vegetal motifs that alternate with small cartouches containing together one Arabic inscription "Help from Allah and a near victory, and give glad tidings to the believers" (Quran 61:13). No scabbard. 

COMMENT. Kard is the traditional Iranian knife with a straight, single-edged blade, which tapers smoothly towards the point. The Persian word kārd simply means "knife". The blade was most often made of watered steel. The simple straight hilt was typically formed by two scales of organic material such as bone, horn, elephant ivory or walrus ivory, and occasionally of metal or stone. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the most popular material for hilts in Iran was the walrus ivory (shirmahi), which is harder and stronger than elephant ivory. The kard was fully developed during the Safavid period (1501-1722). It was extensively used not only in Iran itself but also beyond, particularly in the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia and those parts of the Indian subcontinent that were under Mughal rule. The kard was more of an all-purpose knife than a functional weapon, although many examples have a reinforced tip (tokmeye makhruti) to pierce mail armour. Traditionally, the kard was worn in a deep scabbard on the left side of the belt not only as a normal part of costume, but also as a status symbol. The presented example belongs to the Zand period (1750-94). This exhibits an intricate gold decoration created with using different inlaying techniques that known as zarneshan and tahneshan. The dress kard with a similar gold decoration but without inscriptions is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (inv. no. 36.25.719, see Mayer, L.A. Islamic Armourers and Their Works. – Geneva, 1962. – P. 60, pl. XIII). 

LITERATURE: 1) Сіваченко Є. Холодна зброя Сходу з колекції Олександра Фельдмана: [фотоальбом]. – Харків, 2009. – С. 17; 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. 256-257, №91.