Place of Origin: India, Mughal Period
Date: 17th Centry
A seventeenth century Mughal dagger khanjar with jade hilt of slender and elegant proportions comparable to an important dagger in the collection of the Metropolitan museum (accession number 1982.321) (1). Alexander compares the Metropolitan dagger to several pieces from the imperial Mughal workshops, and suggests that it may have been made for the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan around 1640 A.D.
Our dark green nephrite jade hilt is of conventional pistol-grip form, and like the Metropolitan dagger has a relatively small pommel and narrow central grip which unusually does not flare significantly towards the base. On most examples the central grip area is usually left un-carved; however, the Metropolitan dagger is profusely carved all-over, and the lapidary who carved our hilt has similarly expressed himself outside of the normal boundaries and extended the carved leafy stems to cover the central part of the hilt. The dark green stone has small areas of light green mottling, and also a natural brown russet inclusion which has been incorporated into the carved pattern. The pommel is set with a ruby in gold kundun on each side.
The strongly-recurved blade is forged from Indian wootz (watered) steel of a similar type used in the Metropolitan example, with a high contrast pattern and brightly burnished edges. The deep curvature of this example accents the graceful proportions of the hilt, indicating that the blade and hilt were built for each other.
(1) Alexander, Islamic Arms and Armour – In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015, p.214-215, cat.no.84.