Place of Origin: DECCAN, INDIA
Date: First Half of the 19th Century
This dagger owes its considerable weight to its solid silver hilt and fittings. The pristine hilt comprises a typical ‘pistol-grip’ and integral lobed quillons, and is further fitted with a push-button for releasing the blade from its scabbard.
The blade is forged from wootz steel, the dense patterning on its surface still well-preserved throughout. The forte has been chiselled with great skill to present a compelling arrangement: a central lotus in bloom is flanked by the tips of two further lotuses which are inverted to the first. These continue along the blade formed as raised ribs, gently tapering before they converge to form a medial ridge that leads into the blade’s heavily reinforced, armour-piercing point.
Accompanying the blade is its original brown fabric-covered scabbard, the silver locket pierced with an openwork arrangement of raindrops and cut at the edges to present a lobed arch which culminates in another lotus-head, thereby mirroring the decoration of the blade. The reverse of the locket is attached with a small rectangular bracket for suspension, the chape decorated en suite and terminating in a fitted bulbous finial.
It is difficult to know whether the blade is 17th-century, or whether it is a 19th-century production based on earlier styles (though it is certainly a 17th-century design) – a dilemma which is in no small part indicative of the smith’s competence. A twin-bladed chillanum (Accession Number 36.25.897) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibits a similar design on its blades to our own.