A Dagger, or Khanjar c. 17-18th century

4070 1
4070 2

Item ref: 4070

  • India
  • Deccan, Steel, jade and silver
  • 38.5 x 9.5 cm


Private collection, UK

The blade of this Indian dagger is of watered Wootz steel, double edged and curved. Its remarkable hilt is carved dark green nephrite, a jade, inlaid with flowers and foliate sprays in silver. The triple-bud flowers have been identified as carnations, and the leaves bear close comparison to the saz leaves popular in Ottoman art from the sixteenth century forward. 

The technique of this group of hilts, with large, flat areas of silver set in a dark ground, recalls bidri ware, the blackened brass inlaid with silver and gold, produced in a number of Deccani centres such as Hyderabad, Ahmednagar and Bijapur, as well as Bidar itself. 

The present dagger relates to a near identical one in the Paris exhibition of 1988, formerly in the Otto Petersen collection (no. 97),  to a pale nephrite hilt from the Henderson bequest in the British Museum (no. 78.12-30.883) and one with a serrated blade in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (no. 36.25.667 from the G. C. Stone collection). Hyderabad is thought to have been where these hilts were produced, comparing them to a bidri ware vase in the National Palace Museum, Taipei.