A PRECIOUS STONE – LAPIS LAZULI
This 18th century Indian Pesh Kabz is finely crafted with a wootz (watered) steel blade. The hilt is constructed of a polished Lapis lazuli stone in the form of a ‘pistol’ grip. Lapis Lazuli is a deep-blue metamorphic rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense colour. The stone is either Persian or Afghan as it contains its qualities of —Intense, uniform, medium dark, slightly violetish blue, and contains little or no pyrite, and no calcite. The stone on this hilt is highly rich with a deep blue colour, meaning it is of the highest quality stone – making it very rare and precious. Due to rare nature of this gemstone, it was only utilised by Kings and other Royals as the soft blue stone represented wealth, along with gentleness, sympathy and love. The owner of this Pesh Kabz would have therefore been recognised for their powers of love and affection.
The blade features a a tight grain wootz structure, with several linear distortions visible in a swirling crystalline structure. It may be Mohammed’s ladder (or kirk narduban). This form of wootz was extremely rare and often found their way to India from Persia. Tradition states that Mohammed’s Ladder was used in battle arms as the use of a weapon with such a wootz pattern would ensure entry to heaven and successful victory in the battlefield. The name itself, ‘Mohammed’s Ladder’, is given to this type of blade since the linear distortions in the shape of a ‘ladder’ pass through the wootz to form ‘steps’. These steps represent the Prophets ascension to heaven (parts of which are known as “Mi’raj”, an Arabic word that literally means “ladder”.). This type of wootz made these Arms very high value and sought after. The blade is protruded on the active edge, leading to a sharp and thick armour piercing point.
The tang, hilt and forte are eloquently decorated in gold koftgari, in traditional Indian (Mughal) style with flower-heads between scrolling foliage. The design is very thought through as it wraps the around the hilt in a very elegant way since the koftgari is so detailed. It is clear that the artisan had taken their time when crafting such a piece. Individually, each flower and scrolling foliage is visible and carefully crafter. The koftgari throughout is in very good conditions, the gold bright and thick to touch with little to no loss. Overall the koftgari is 99% in tact and in a great state of preservation.
All these characteristics make this Pesh Kabz exquisite and interesting, in a superb state of preservation. The style and materials used for this Pesh Kabz signify that it was in fact made for an individual of high status and one with an eye for details. Yet the blade and strong build and character of this Pesh Kabz truly shows that it was not only a decorative piece used for the Durbar (court) wear, but in fact practical for battle and combat.
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