Turkey. Steel, rubies, emeralds, sapphire, silver, gold and wood.
Private collection, Germany
This dagger belongs to a group of gem-studded weapons dating to the latter years of the Ottoman Empire, probably made in Istanbul, most probably for the growing demand for jewelled souvenirs for European tourists. Compare a gilded tray of daggers, one even more flamboyant, the scabbards of the others very similar, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, no. 23.232.1–6, whose strapwork scabbard decoration is close enough to suggest the same hand, and another dagger from the Stone collection in the same museum with a scabbard of the same group (no. 36.25.993).
The blade is curved and double edged, of watered steel chiselled with a panel at the forte terminating in a luxurious swirl of leaves in neo-rococo style, ending in a lotus bud from which springs a pair of fullers within raised ribs running towards the point, the bud, raised ribs and forte are decorated in gold koftgari, with tight scrolling foliage. Within plain bands. The hilt is of waisted form, of nephrite set with pairs of small rubies and emeralds in gold mounts. The scabbard is of wood entirely covered in silver with traces of gilding, chiselled with a lozenge diaper on both sides, with a plain medial band and a bud finial at the chape. At the throat is a strapwork interlace of silver set with runs of rubies and emeralds, the front with a garland of rubies surrounding a central sapphire, the rear with smaller sapphires and a silver gilt suspension loop.
Size: Overall length 43.5 cm / 17.1 in; Dagger length 40.5 cm / 1.9 in; Blade length 29.4 cm / 11.6 in