Place of Origin: Qajar Empire (Modern-day Iran)
Date: 18th Century
Overall Length (out of scabbard): 405mm (16 Inches)
Forged entirely from steel, this kard dagger originates from the Qajar Empire (modern-day Iran).
A trio of calligraphic panels are etched over the hilt, the bolster and backstrap then overlaid with a series of miniature panels which alternate between foliate emblems and further calligraphic inscriptions in gold. Further panels at the base of the blade are chiselled with an enchanting array of unfurling flowerheads and intermingled vines which frame an arabesque calligraphic panel in gold.
The superb artistry of the dagger’s decorative elements is matched by a ‘wootz’ steel blade in pristine condition which on close inspections shows a rich patterning, the blade tapering elegantly to a slender point. The dagger retains its black-painted shagreen scabbard with maroon-coloured cord for suspension.
The dagger’s inscriptions are translated below:
On the hilt, Side A:
بسم لله الرح من الرح یم / اذ ا ج ا ءن صر لله و الفتح ور أی ت النا س / یدخ لون في دین لله افو اج
“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. When the help of God and the victory arrive, And thou seest men entering the religion of God by troops.”
On the hilt, Side B:
فسبح بح مد ر بك و اس تغغر ه / انھ ك ان ثو ابا ھ وناھ ثقة(؟) / یا ام ام ز ین الع ابدین
“Then utter the praise of thy Lord, implore His pardon; for He loveth to turn in mercy.” (Qur’an 110) Ha. And He is a faithful companion(?). O Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin!”
Panel at the base of the blade (both sides translated together):
ض نقشی ست ک از [کذ ا] م ا باز م ا ند ک ھھس تی ر ا نمی بینم بقایی
““The intention of the design is that something of us should endure,
For I see no permanence in existence. Year 1197 (1782-3)” (from Gulistan, a famous Persian poem by Sa‘di)
Spine of the blade and backstrap:
ی الله / ی اح نا ن / ی ام نا ن / ی اد یا ن
“O God! O Affectionate! O Beneficent! O Requiter!”
Underside of the tang:
ی الله / ی امحمد / ی اع لي
“O God! O Muhammad! O ‘Ali!”
ی اذو الجلال / ولاا کر
“O Possessor of Majesty and Generosity!”
Daggers made in this style - with chiselled decoration in arabesque panels and foliate motifs - were exhibited by Runjeet Singh Ltd in Iconic: New York 2018 (see Cat. Nos. 4 & 5). Further comparanda can be found in important museum collections. See a dagger (Accession No. 36.25.1043a, b) preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York thought to have been made in the workshop of Muhammad Nami, and another (Accession No. 824-1893) at the Victoria & Albert Museum with similar chiselled decoration to our own.