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Place of Origin: MONGOLIA

Date: Early 20th Century

Overall: 420mm (15.5")

Reference: 279

Status: Sold

Full Description:

This well-preserved Mongolian knife is exceptionally large and splendidly decorated throughout with various motifs.

The wooden grip-scales are secured with an array of small brass rivets and carved with quatrefoil symbols similar to those found on the ‘Jade Knife’ also shown in this exhibition (see cataloguing for Ref. 08). The hilt’s pommel depicts dragons in copper amidst clouds that curl inwards, the gilt-brass pommel-cap engraved with a central flower and leaves on a sunken punched ground. A long and slender blade is inserted into the hilt and cut with a fuller which extends along the greater part of its length, tapering towards a hatchet point.

The frontal face of the scabbard’s wooden core is adorned with brass bands that each hold a bead of coral at their centre flanked by dragons engraved in deep relief and close detail. The chape repeats and expands this motif, a central lotus flower inset with a coral bead at its centre and enclosed from above and below by dragons amidst stylised clouds. ‘Eternal knots’ – one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols in Buddhism – appear on the reverse face, as well as a larger inset coral. Above this, a dragon’s head is fitted with a loop from which hangs a knotted orange cord for suspension.

The decoration of this piece shows strong Chinese influence. A related knife published in an exhibition catalogue of Mongolian works of art (now preserved in the National Museum of Mongolian History),[1] is not much larger than our own example (20 5/8 inches) and was made by a Mongol craftsman for the giant Ondro Gongor, a bodyguard of the Bogdo Khan when a Mongolian government delegation visited Russia in 1918.


[1] Various Authors, Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan, Thames & Hudson, London, 1995, p. 106, No. 6.


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