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Hançar (Dagger)

Place of Origin: Ottoman Turkey

Date: 19th Century

Overall: 408mm (16 inches)

Blade: 295mm (11.5 inches)

Reference: 434

Status: Sold

Full Description:

This opulent khanjar (from Ottoman Turkish خنجر‎ ‘hancer’, خنچارhançar’) represents a fine example of this weapon type, very well preserved. Closer inspection of the decoration, in particular, reveals precise and thoughtful craftsmanship.

The viewer’s eye is drawn immediately to the translucent, blue stone inset just beneath the scabbard’s locket, which could be a Ceylon sapphire (the ‘cabochon’ form would typically exclude topaz or aquamarine, while the absence of iridescence rules out opal). The scabbard is made of wood with lush silver covering that shows traces of gold. The mounts are richly decorated with sparkling roses of green, blue and pink gemstones closely intertwined in dense foliage - a mesmerising display of rubies, emeralds, spinels and beryls on the locket complementing the chiselled floral vines arranged lengthwise in diamond patterns and blooming up to the chape fitted with a bud-shaped point.

The hilt of the dagger is carved from a single block of pale nephrite jade with an ethereal, luminescent glow. Eye-shaped garnets and emeralds are inset over the grip in a symmetrical arrangement evoking tiny blossoms, with a vibrant, fully open matching floral design at the top.

The double-edged watered steel blade is slightly curved in an elegant line and of a superior quality. They are resistant to shattering, and can be honed to a sharp, resilient edge[1]. The robust, engraved fuller, reinforced by double grooves, rises boldly from a central flower in gold on both sides of the blade, which in turn blossoms from an applied steel forte of symmetrical drooping leaves, a finely worked element which is usually seen only on the finest daggers of this type.

A further example of this type of ceremonial weapon can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Stone bequest (36.25.994[2]).




Private European collection


[1] Leo S. Figiel, On Damascus Steel, Atlantis Arts Press, 1991, pp. 10–11.

[2] URL:
See also Alexander, David, Stuart W. Pyhrr, and Will Kwiatkowski, Islamic Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015, pp. 203–205, no. 79, ill.


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