Lot 262. A gold gem-set hilted dagger (kinjal), Tanjore or Mysore, South India, 1790-1810; 13 3/8 ins. (34.1 cm.) long. Estimate USD 500,000 - USD 700,000Price realised USD 555,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019

The hilt in the form of a yali, set with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, steel blade.

Literature: Jaffer 2013, p.191, no.65

ExhibitedMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York 2014, p.55
Grand Palais, Paris 2017, p.172, no.131
The Doge’s Palace, Venice 2017, p.200, no.134
The Palace Museum, Beijing 2018, p.223, no.138
de Young Legion of Honor, San Francisco 2018, p. 106, no. 45.

Note: The hilt of this impressive gem set dagger is in the form of a yali, a fearsome mythical beast. It is a well-known motif in the architecture of southern India, also used for smaller furniture fittings in ivory and wood, and often seen on the hilts of weapons (Paris 2017, p.172). A comparable 17th century dagger from Tanjore, with a chiselled iron grip and pommel modelled as a yali is published in Hales, 2013, cat.162, p.76. Another comparable sword hilt, dated to the 17th or 18th century from the private collection of the Raja of Tanjore is illustrated in Elgood, 2004, cat.8.64, p.99.

The gem settings on the dagger, particularly the emeralds on the back of the yalis neck and the rubies on the grip of the hilt, have been compared to the settings seen on the tiger-head finials of Tipu Sultan’s throne (see Lot 203) suggesting a broadly similar dating for this dagger (Jaffer 2013, p.191).

Christie's. Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence, New York, 19 June 2019