Ivory Lady - Stiletto Dagger
Place of Origin: Goa? India
Date: Late 19th Century
Overall Length: 370mm
Blade Length: 220mm
A late 19th century Indian stiletto dagger, with carved elephant ivory hilt in the form of a naked dancer or celestial apsara. The lady is stood on a circular pedestal, her ankles with heavy bells painted with gold, her buttocks are round and patinated, with a gold and green belt around her waist. Her left hand holding a flask in front of her left breast, and right hand down by her side holding a garland or prayer beads, both arms with bazu bands and bracelets. She wears a pair of large earings which are set with red corals and her ears with two small malachite stones. Her plaited and elaborate hair adorned with jewellery known as a rear chotli and a forehead tikka again set with coral and malachite stones, the top of the plat having a painted red flower with a green leafy stem below.
The turned bolster and the blade are of European style and form, the forte is cut with four chevrons and precisely decorated with gold damascening in a European style. The lower section of the blade is double edged and of flattened diamond section. The velvet clad wooden scabbard (velvet now worn) complete with matching chape and throat piece, the chape having a central fleur-de-lis motif.
A dagger of similar form and carved ivory handle was sold by Christies, Lot 388, sale 1812, Indian and South East Asian Art, 21st March 2007, New York, Rockafeller Plaza. It is said to have been sold previously by Spink and Son Ltd., London, 1988, and is described as 18th century, Dutch East Indies or Goa.