Place of Origin: Northern India, Gujarat (India), Syria
Date: 17th -19th Century
This group of fine miniature knives constitutes a pleasing example of the varied and intricate artistry that can be observed in arms and armour.
The leftmost knife shown in the images dates to the 18th-19th century and comprises walrus ivory grips, a blade of wootz steel with elegant surface patterns, and a dark-green velvet-covered scabbard.
The second knife comes from the state of Gujarat in India and dates to the 17th or 18th century. Its grip-scales are made from mother-of-pearl which has been carved into an interesting shape, possibly intended to convey the outline of a bird’s head and crest in profile. The watered blade is overlaid with winding vine tendrils in gold and exhibits the much sought-after ‘Mohammed’s Ladder’ patterning over its surface whereby pillars of whirling wootz steel surge into the body of the blade from its sharp edge. It is complete with a leather-covered scabbard which has been painted black.
The third knife is 19th century and originates from Syria, its slender hilt covered throughout with long splays of palm leaves in gold koftgari. The blade is overlaid at the forte with a network of gold quatrefoils and along the back-edge with an inscription. The maker’s style extends to the metal scabbard which is decorated in gold en suite with the hilt and fitted with a gently sloping suspension bracket.
The fourth and final knife comes from northern India and is dated to the 18th-19th centuries. Its grip scales are formed from elephant ivory and are secured to the tang of the slender wootz steel blade with small iron pins. A silver locket and chape are fitted to the dagger’s scabbard, the wooden surface of which exhibits a rich reddish colour.