A Nephrite Jade Hilted Mughal Dagger with a re-curved single-edged Wootz blade.
During the reign and court of Emperor Aurangzeb, there was patronage for fine Arms. It is during his reign (1658-1707 AD) the ‘Pistol Grip’ hilt was popularised. During and after the 1660s, we see Mughal officials and royals appear in paintings with daggers with ‘Pistol’ grips (See Bonhams 11 June 2020, lot 139 ‘Bahadur Shah’ painting from the 17th century). This dagger features such a hilt, in exceptional form. The hilt is inlaid with silver foliate motifs and finely mounted with rubies at quillons and rounded head of the hilt. The silver motifs are embedded onto the hilt; set flush with the polished surface of the Nephrite Jade. This particular technique was utilised in Bidri ware (Bidar – Deccan). The style was famous amongst the Mughal court, and there is a comparable, near identical, hilt in the Met Museum (Accession number: 36.25.667). The British Museum also features a similar silver inlaid Jade Hilt (Accession number: 1878,1230.883).
The blade watered wootz blade is fine, dark polished, and is similar to the Nephrite Jade Khanjar we have listed for Sale. The etched design is almost identical as this also features a floral motif at the forte, which connects to the floral cartouche towards the armour piercing tip. The tip is swollen which would allow for armour piercing, and since the blade is single-edged, it also allowed for ‘slashing’. Unlike our previous example that had a straighter blade, with a slight curve, this blade has a more prominent curve towards the left, meaning it was ideally to be worn on the left side of the waist.
What makes this dagger rare and a real collectors item is the original sheath. The wooden sheath is wrapped in black fabric (minor de-colorizing due to age). The sheath is secured with two metal chapes, one at the top and another at the bottom. Both chapes are crafted out of steel and perfectly etched with floral motifs to match the blade and hilt patterning. A unique feature of this sheath is the embedding of a bird within the metal chape (top). This shows the true craftsmanship and design work of the Artisan and proves to be a personal touch to the dagger.
Overall, a fine 18th century Deccani Mughal Dagger, which displays true signs of craftsmanship and elegance. A rare dagger accompanied with its original sheath, making it the perfect addition for collectors looking for original complete daggers.
Alexander, David, Stuart W. Pyhrr, and Will Kwiatkowski. Islamic Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. p. 216, no. 85, ill.
Grancsay, Stephen V., and Stuart W. Pyhrr. Arms & Armor: Essays by Stephen V. Grancsay from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1920–1964. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986. p. 452.