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11. 18th c. Rajput Royal Kard mounted with Jahangir period jade grip

( ID: ic1260 )

Overall length: 28.8 cm

Overall length in scabbard: 35.5 cm

Blade length: 17.75 cm

Weight: .5 lb

Price on request

An important Indian dagger featuring an early handle from the period of Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627), mounted in 18th century Jaipur. The eared form of either a single piece or two grip scales of solid jade, rock crystal or ivory cut, was more commonly found on Nasrid daggers of the 14-15th centuries, then Spanish daggers of the 16th c. century, and later on Ottoman yataghans, and finally was briefly in vogue in the early 17th c. Mughal court. Kaoukji notes on the three eared daggers in the Al-Sabah collection (2017) that the east to west migration of the form (bronze age Luristan to Europe in subsequent centuries) (Hoffmeyer 1972), and it's subsequent migration back to the east in the 16th C. can be seen in the visible manifestation of a cinquedea bladed eared dagger in the cummerbund of a warrior depicted in a folio from the Hamza-nameh manuscript, circa 1567.

This form of hilt is found on important institutional examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Acc. Nr. 1984.332), U.K. Royal Collection (Acc. Nr. RCIN 11275), Victoria and Albert Museum, Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (Acc. Nr. F1958.15a-b), Jaipur Royal Collection (Acc. Nr. MJM17.1275), Wallace Collection (Acc. Nr. OA1415 and attributed to Claude Martin), a rarely seen, crystal hilted form, entirely encrusted dagger in the National Palace Museum Taipei in Taiwan, and three examples in the Al-Sabah collection (illustrated in Kaoukji ed. 2017: inventory numbers LNS 217 J ab, LNS 300 J ab, and LNS75 HS, with our example closest in form and style to LNS 300 J ab).

The style of gold, the color of whitish, pale green jade, and form of the hilt itself may also be found on well-provenanced, miniature paintings, most notably the miniature in the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., titled Jahangir welcoming Shah Abbas (Acc. Nr. F1942.16.a). This form can also be seen in the miniature titled a Portrait of Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb, and Asif Khan (Acc. Nr. 1409), now at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, where the youngest prince is shown with what is likely a rock crystal hilted example in his silk cummerbund. Several types are depicted in a miniature in the Royal Collection where Shah-Jahan receives his three eldest sons and Asaf Khan during his accession ceremonies (8 March 1628) (Acc. Nr. RCIN 1005025.k), where they are worn by courtiers in various types of design from gold encrusted with gemstones to others appearing to be of rock crystal. Of the known examples, in addition to the other characteristics noted, two forms of grip types are known.

The first type of the classic eared form, either of solid material or with double scales, has a grip which is not carved to accommodate a flanged cross guard and terminates in rounded shape upon which a cross guard would be set. That form can be found on an example sold at Christies in April 2012, the Metropolitan Museum example, the Claude Martin inscribed dagger in the Wallace Collection, and the National Palace Museum example. With some speculation, one can assume that the examples with the carved inset space for the cross guard were made in Persia (see attribution for the Freer example), while those with a cross guard which sat round on the hilt were made in India. Even then, these were likely interchanged. Most curiously, the example in the Royal Collection has a hilt carved to hold a cross guard with an inset flange but is remounted with either a later or contemporaneous cross guard in the Indian style. The examples in the Al-Sabah collection (Kaoukji 2017) also all appear mounted originally with round ended cross guards.

The rare example on offer has a single piece, jade hilt set with gold and inlaid with rubies and emeralds. The blade is a dark wootz Indian kard blade with a gold decorated forte on either side showing a sun motif, indicating it having been remounted in Rajasthan or the Rajput kingdoms. Interestingly, this hilt was mounted later in its life, likely in the 18th century, almost certainly either in Jaipur or, at some point, residing in the Royal Jaipur court. A dagger of identical hilt form with a very similar blade is currently in the Jaipur Court Collection, published in Elgood (2016: Cat. No. 8) where it is described as “Mughal Rock crystal hilt: first third of the 17th century; blade and bolster: 18th century.” Another in the Al-Sabah collection (illustrated in Kaoukji 2017 Cat.Nr. 43) also was remounted with a straight kard blade, indicating that this was not an uncommon occurrence.

This dagger comes with an associated 19th-century scabbard with chiseled silver mounts covered in blue velvet (not pictured). Overall some minor losses to the gold and minor chips to the jade, but remaining in very fine condition.

Provenance:

Private California collection

References:

Christie's. Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds. 26 April 2012. Sale Nr. 5169. Lot Nr. 299

Elgood, R. (2016). Arms & Armour: At the Jaipur Court, The Royal Collection. Niyogi Books

Hoffmeyer, A.B.d (1972). Arms & armour in Spain: a short survey. Instituto de Estudios sobre Armas Antiguas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Patronato Menéndez y Pelayo, 1972

Kaoukji, S. (ed.) (2017). Precious Indian Weapons and Other Princely Accoutrements: Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah The Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait. Thames and Hudson: London

Photo #1 of 11. 18th c. Rajput Royal Kard mounted with Jahangir period jade grip
Photo #2 of 11. 18th c. Rajput Royal Kard mounted with Jahangir period jade grip
Photo #3 of 11. 18th c. Rajput Royal Kard mounted with Jahangir period jade grip