Mughal India or the Deccan
late 17th or early 18th century
hilt of gold on a lac core, enamelled and set with rubies in gold kundan settings; watered steel blade; sheath of wood with fabric cover and matching enamelled gold mounts
The fine workmanship and rich materials are consistent with a report that this dagger was once in the treasury of the Nizams of Hyderabad. It is decorated with stylized lotus blossoms engraved under transparent enamels. Three cabochon rubies are set on the centre of the pommel and on the quillon block, to either side of the hilt. The latter two form the eyes of a water monster (makara), jaws agape as if about to swallow the blade.
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.118, pp.186–7. J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.449, p.372. P. Moura Carvalho, Gems and Jewels of Mughal India. Jewelled and enamelled objects from the 16th to 20th centuries, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XVIII, London 2010, cat.2, pp.24–5.