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Khmer Dagger

Place of Origin: Cambodia

Date: 10th-11th Century AD

Overall: 220mm

Blade: 110mm

Reference: 063

Status: Sold

Full Description:

A small and rare dagger from Cambodia, Khmer empire, tenth to eleventh century.

Of Indic form, the bronze hilt is wonderfully cast with an unusual triple-bulbous grip, with concentric ridges the entire length.  A lateral guard and pommel which take the general form of adorned crescentic shapes at either end of the grip.  The diamond-section iron blade is pitted, but of expected leaf-shape of ancient Indian design.

The dagger should be compared to a bronze example in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no.68.289.  See http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/ceremonial-dagger-22443

Of very similar form and size, the only significant difference is that the Boston dagger has a bronze blade, and the example here is of iron.  That is not necessarily an indication of a differing age of the two daggers (at this point the region had been producing iron for a significant time), but more likely the respective materials must have been chosen for physical or ritual properties that the materials were believed to have possessed.

An analogous example of Indian origin, published Hales (2013), no.143, p.67, is a somewhat similarly-shaped (though larger) dagger attributed to the Deccan, prior to 1600AD.  It is a reminder of so called Greater India, and the Indic influences that the region adopted prior to the Khymer empire (802-1431).  The leaf-shaped blade appears in numerous ancient Indian examples, see Rawson (1968), p.2, but there is also sculptural evidence in South East Asia, specifically a tenth century stone carving at Candi Shiva temple complex, Central Java, of a Vanara warrior wielding a comparable dagger.

Provenance
Private American Collection