A Fine Indian Dagger, or Khanjar, 19th century

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Item ref: 3944

  • India
  • Steel, gold, brass and turquoise


Private collection, United Kingdom

The code for fashionable dress of the nobility in northern India under the Mughals and their successor states included the wearing of highly decorated daggers which reflected the wearer’s social standing and prestige. Animal headed daggers became popular early in the 17th century and were reserved for nobles of the highest rank. A close study of Mughal miniature paintings reveals the restriction of these animal-headed daggers to a small number of princes and senior dignitaries (Welch 1985, 257–8). The most popular medium for the hilts of these daggers was jade, either nephrite or, later, jadeite, imported from Central Asia, reflecting the Timurid heritage of the Mughal court. Later more diverse materials became popular, and this dagger reflects the later use of gilt brass, mounted in exotic stones. With recurved blade with raised fuller. The hilt in the form of a horse head, of gilt brass, and mounted in turquoise.