India or Afghanistan
late18th or 19th century
steel, forged and cast, with gold damascening, silver inlay; velvet-covered wooden sheath, with silver gilt mounts
52.3cm (length, dagger); 40.7cm (sheath)
The forged handle of the dagger and the watered steel blade have been beautifully worked to give the word Nasir (‘defender’), with the blade forming its final letter. Despite the brilliant simplicity of the conception, and its appropriateness for defenders of the Muslim faith, very few such calligraphic weapons have been recorded in Islamic cultures.
D. Alexander, The Arts of War. Arms and Armour of the 7th to 19th Centuries, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XXI, London 1992, cat.124, p.190–91. J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.413, p.348.