Khyber knife overall
This item has been sold.
Overall length

Sheathed 67.4 cm

Sword 63.2 cm

Blade length

51.5 cm

Blade thickness

Base 7.8 mm

Middle 7 mm

5 cm from tip 4 mm

Blade width

Base 50 mm

Middle 43 mm

5 cm from tip 18 mm

Weight

654 grams

Point of balance

14.5 cm from hilt

Materials

Iron, steel, wood, leather, silver, copper alloys

Origin

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Dating

19th century

Provenance

From a French collection

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Introduction

The Khyber knife was the weapon of choice of the Pashtun tribes that inhabited the Khyber Pass, a strategic location along the Silk Road that connected North India to Central Asia.

For more on the type, see my glossary article: Khyber knife.

 

Description

I often skip Khyber knives because the majority are not very finely made, most are tribal slashers often with quality and condition issues. This particular example has some unusual features that made it stand out.

The blade is of classic Khyber knife shape, with a wide base that tapers towards a sharp point. The blade is forged folded with prominent contrast between the layers, made to stand out. The base of the blade and spine are crosshatched and overlaid with designs of flowers in silver and copper alloy. The hilt consists of a silver base, silver edge strips around the tang, and its grip are two scales of blonde goat horn.

The scabbard is unusual in that it has an extra stopper made of wood, with a brass cap and a chain to prevent losing it. The stopper neatly closes off the scabbard when sheathed. I have not seen this before on a Khyber sword. Its purpose was most likely to prevent the precious blade from being scratched by sand coming into the scabbard.

A very charming Khyber knife, probably once worn by a proud and prominent Pashtun.

 

Comparable examples

This style of overlay on the blade is very rare, but somewhat comparable work is also seen on one example in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, accession number IM.218&A-1920.

 

Condition

Some damage to the scabbard fitting, losses to the inlays. See photos.

Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife
Unusual khyber knife

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