Nephrite Jade Khanjar Dagger

Inspired by the traditional pistol, the grip of this Khanjar features a polished Nephrite Jade hilt in the form of a ‘Pistol grip’. The rounded top is matched with the lobed quillons, which creates a secure opening for the hand to grasp the hilt. The dark green (almost black) nephrite jade is finely decorated en suite with a contrasting gold in the form of bifurcated branch and leaves. The Gold inlay is layered and thus is thick to touch and feel. In style it speaks of Mughal Deccani (South India) states in the 18th century. All the gold is in a great state of preservation and provides a great contrast to the dark green hilt. A Dagger (Khanjar) at the Met Museum (Accession number: 36.25.673a, b) features a very similar design to our dagger. According to the Met Museum, this type of hilt and gold is attributed to the workshops of the Nawab of Oudh at Lucknow, 1785.

The blade is long, slender and features a double-edged, fine dark polished steel blade that features a ‘cartouche-esqe’ design at the forte in floral form (matching the hilt); which is adjoined to the fullers, leading to another smaller flower towards the armour piercing point. The medial ridge runs along with majority of the blade just before merging into the floral cartouche and armour-piercing tip. The tip is reinforced giving this Khanjar a real and active purpose; one of combat. This is a great contrast to the regal Jade hilt.

The merger of such a hilt and blade in fact perfectly represents the close relationship between Southern India (Deccan) and the Ottoman Empire, as during the 18th century, ruling/royal member from this region often intermarried, bringing with them design and culture that was expressed through Arms and Armour. This, this type of Khanjar would most definitely have been for Darbar (court) wear, as its Jade hilt provides a royal and regal feel, whilst the blade provides the Khanjar with real practical features.

This type of Khanjar became popular amongst the ruling classes of Mughal India. For a stylistically similar example from the late 18th century, see Robert Hales (2013), Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour (p.66, no.139). For another comparable example, see the Furusiyya Art Foundation Collection in The Arts of the Muslim Knight: The Furusiyya Art Foundation Collection by Bashir Mohammed (2008).

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Stock Number: 8886

A fine Mughal Khanjar dagger of Nephrite Jade, Gold and Wootz Steel from the late 18th century – Early 19th century. Mughal India (possibly Lucknow or Deccan)

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