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Gorgeous 18th C. North Indian Pesh Kabz with Wootz blade and gold inscription

( ID: id704 )

A fine example of a North Indian pesh kabz dagger with a fine deeply curved blade, this antique weapon consists of  high quality wootz and is overlaid in gold koftgari of vinous form, with an Arabic inscription at the apex.  The thick and spacious handle supports a piece extending 18 inches in length and the blade is 12 inches long.

As an art form, koftgari encompasses the inlay of gold and silver wire on iron objects.  Re-fined by the Sikligar community, Persian craftsmen introduced the art from to the sub-continent following the Mughal empire expansion.  This time period witnessed further in-tegration of European artistic styles and design into the local art production.  In addition, artists became recognized more as a professional class rather than mere craftsmen.  
Originating from the Tamil Nadu region, Indian wootz steel utilizes a system of  sheets of micro carbides within a tempered martensite or pearlite matrix.  The steel was seen as the strongest form on the planet at the time, renowned especially for its durability and capacity for armor piercing.

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.

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