Indian jade hilted dagger
Overall length

36.1 cm

Blade length

23.1 cm

Blade thickness

Base 3 mm

Middle 3 mm

Reinforced tip 4 mm

Blade width

Base 31 mm

Middle 28 mm

Reinforced tip 7 mm

Weight

376 grams

Point of balance

9 mm into hilt

Materials

Jadeite, wootz steel, resin, rubies, gold

Origin

Rajasthan

North India

Dating

19th century

Provenance

Michael Backman

Robert Hales

Price €5400, -

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Introduction

Jade-hilted daggers of this form became popular in India in the 17th century and were made worn well into the 19th century. They were seen worn by Mughal emperors and Deccan Sultans but were also popular among lower nobility.

Farrukh Síyar with jade dagger

Mughal emperor Farrukh Siyar, 1720.
He was often depicted with his jade-hilted dagger.
Christie's.

 

This example

The blade is made of Indian wootz with secondary edge bevels burnished bright, as was the northern fashion. It has a slightly swollen, reinforced point. The blade has a chevron-shaped lap weld near the tip.

"The bands created by the lap-welds are known in Rajasthan as "mala", plural "male", meaning "garlands" or "necklaces" and are considered auspicious." 1

The base of the blade is overlaid with floral decorations in two tones of gold.

 

Jade hilt

The hilt is carved of pale green jadeite with some brown. The jade is not top-quality jade but quite decent, and the carving is in harmony with the jade quality. 

It is of the typical form for these with a "curled up" pommel and the other side being split, each side curling outwards to the sides. The hilt is carved in shallow relief with flowers, leaves, and fern-like elements.

The hilt has a small ruby on either side of the pommel, set in gold, a technique known as kundan. There is a third ruby at the back of the pommel.

 

Dating & attribution

Daggers of this form were in production from the early 17th to at least the late 19th century. The proportions and manner of carving of this particular hilt suggest a 19th-century date.

The blade geometry, lap weld, and burnished edges all point towards Rajasthan as a place of origin.

 

Provenance

I purchased this dagger from Robert Hales, known for the book Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour
A Lifetime’s Passion. 
The book showcases many amazing items that went through his hands during his career as a dealer.

 

Notes
1. Robert Elgood; Rajput Arms & Armour, Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2017. Volume 1. Page 190.

Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger
Indian jade hilted dagger

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