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Place of Origin: India

Date: 19th century

Overall: 240mm (9.5 inches)

Blade: 130mm (5.25 inches)

Reference: 437

Status: Sold

Full Description:

This bichawa bagh nakh combines a recurved bichawa blade – which translates as “scorpion sting” – and a bagh-nakh, which translates as “leopard claw” (not “tiger claw”, as is commonly stated).

The bagh nakh was famously used by Marathan leader Shivaji Bhonsale I (1630-1680) to kill the Mughal general Afzal Khan, who had come to parley with him during a siege of the Maratha fort. Angered that the Mughals had desecrated a family temple, and suspicious that Khan may try to kill or arrest him, Shivaji wore armour under his clothes and armed himself with a bagh nakh and bichawa, which he used to kill Khan[1].

This example is made to fit the right hand, its outer ring large enough for a thumb, whilst the ring at the base of the blade is intended for the little finger. The claws then protrude from the gaps between the wearer’s knuckles, the recurved blade extending out the bottom of the hand. Of polished steel, the piece demonstrates careful manufacture, particularly in the way that the claws are set into the crossbar and precisely braised into place. The base of the blade, too, has been carefully shaped. An example very similar to our own can be found in the Science Museum, London[2].


London art market


[1] Haig, Wolseley; Burn, Richard (1960) [first published 1937], The Cambridge History of India, Volume IV: The Mughal Period, Cambridge University Press


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