IRIS POMMEL DAGGER
Place of Origin: MUGHAL DOMINIONS or DECCAN, INDIA
Date: 17th Century
Overall Length: 400mm (15 ¾ Inches)
The elegant hilt of this dagger is cleverly carved to depict an iris flower in bloom: four slender leaves form the faces of the grip, those at the sides curving away from the central section of the hilt and attached to downcurved sepals. Careful lines cut into the surface of the pale-green jade recreate the grooved textures of the flower, bestowing this hilt with an especial sensitivity. The stem of the blossom is attached with a spirally fluted jade tang button with a forest-green hue, an intelligent respondent to the iris’ stigma. Curling acanthus leaves slope over the quillons, and on each side of the guard a blossoming lotus has been carved at the centre.
Gilt panels etched on each face of the blade’s forte contain later inscriptions and stylised flowers with outspread branches or stems. The inscription reads:
khanjar-i badshah 'alamgir
shud kalid-i mamalik az taqdir
"The dagger of Emperor Aurangzeb became the key to the realms through predestination."
The inscription is a copy of the inscription on the dagger of Aurangzeb (M.76.2.7a-b) which is now in the Los Angeles Museum of County Art, and probably applied to this dagger in the 19th century.
The steel blade curves gently for the greater part of its length before turning more sharply towards the point, its surface exhibiting a simple, elegant wootz pattern.
A similar dagger is recorded in the al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, showing in its hilt the same clever portrayal of the iris flower in bloom.
Private European collection
 Salam Kaoukji, Precious Indian Weapons and other Princely Accoutrements: the Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, Thames & Hudson, 2017, pp. 232-233, Cat. No. 85.