Fine 19th C. Indian Mughal Wootz Kard Dagger with two-tone gold koftgari خنجر (ID: id488)
Fine 19th C. Indian Mughal Wootz Kard Dagger with two-tone gold koftgari خنجر
|( ID: id488 )|
This antique weapon is a very fine example of an Indian Mughal kard. The pieces features nicely aged grips and rare two-tone gold koftgari, one with a light yellow gold and the other a reddish dark yellow gold. The effect illuminates the decorated areas of the kard, which is accompanied by a fitted scabbard. The antique piece extends 15 inches in length, while the blade is 10 inches.
This antique weapon was employed by the Mughal effectively in its battles with the Safavid and Ottoman Empires. The arm was particularly adept at piercing the armor of enemy combatants.
Developed originally in India, wootz steel technology features a system of isolating micro carbides within a matrix of tempered martensite. The ancient metalwork specialist Herbert Maryon of the British Museum in London described the metal technique as: “the undulations of the steel resemble a net across running water … [the pattern] waved like watered silk… it was mottled like the grains of yellow sand.” With roots in the Tamil Nudu region of the sub-continent, the technology was considered the most effective in the world for maximizing armor piercing potential. The indigenous Indian population presented the invading armies of Alexander the Great with tribute ingots of wootz around 300 B.C. From there, the process was refined over time throughout the world in Damascus, Syria; continental Europe; and later Great Britain, where the process underpinned the Industrial Revolution that began in the 18th century. The Rajahs of India submitted tulwars, shamshirs, khanjars, in addition to other ancient swords and daggers manufactured with wootz to the International Exhibition of 1851 and 1862, whereby the pieces become coveted for the quality of their steel.
In addition to edged weapons wootz steel was used in the manufacture of many types of metalwork as well, including armor sets such as char ainas (or Four mirror), bazubands made with dark Persian Khorassan wootz are noted from the period of the Safavid Empire and throughout the Qajar period. Furthermore, axes or tabars and tabarzins, in addition to caligraphy scissors were made from wootz steel.
According to Collectors Weekly, most Indian antiques from this time period are coveted by mu-seums. These types of pieces have been exhibited around the world at esteemed museums like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Louvre in Paris. Koftgari work, which tradi-tionally features fine gold wire or gold leaf overlay hammered into patterns, has become a distin-guishing characteristic of the style.
Welch, Stuart Cary India: Art and Culture, 1300–1900. Exhibition catalogue.. New York: Met-ropolitan Museum of Art, 1986.