A Dagger and Scabbard (Hancer), 19th century

2689 9
2689 7

Item ref: 2689

  • Indian and Ottoman
  • Steel, jade (nephrite), gold, diamonds and rubies, wood and textile
  • 46.5 cm / 18.3 in


Mark Dineley Collection, 1990s
Private collection, UK

Mughal jade daggers were highly sought after in the Ottoman Empire, and frequently jade hilts such as this were remounted in Turkey. This example is related to three other daggers with the same set of inscriptions, including an ascription to a maker, Nasir of Ardalan. The three daggers include an example inscribed on the blade of a composite piece fitted with an Indian hilt from the Stone bequest in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (36.25.994, Alexander 2015, 203–5). The hilts and scabbards of two further daggers with waisted steel hilts include one dated 1770/1 (1184 AH) from the Henderson bequest in the British Museum and a third dated 1777/8 (1191 AH) in the Freer Gallery, Washington (nos 1878,1230.902 and 39.44 respectively, Atil 1985, 214–7, no. 35. Of these the daggers with the inscriptions on the blades appear to have been copied later from the two dated pieces.
The watered steel blade is decorated overall with calligraphic inscriptions inlaid in gold on the forte and in small diamonds of various colours in the fuller. These read, on the right side of the blade in the fuller the basmalah, ‘In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful’, and on the forte with numerous errors ‘In the time of the ruler, the just king, heir to Dara, The khan of the world, favourite of ‘Ali, master of time, the lord of the sea and land’. The left side is inlaid in gold with Persian verses, also with errors ‘The pride of the masters, Nasir of Ardalan, follower of the chief of artisans, made in Shiraz a beautiful dagger. Like the crescent moon, from the water of magnificence (?) and gems …. told its date, A sun with a moon in its belt’. The hilt is of pale nephrite jade, carved in the form of a pistol grip and chiselled with restrained floral and foliate sprays. Around the waist is a collar of gold set with rubies. The scabbard is of wood covered with red velvet, fitted with a chape and top locket of nephrite carved with matching floral sprays, the latter fitted with a throat if gilded iron set with spinel rubies, matching the hilt.