Lot 378. A dagger (khanjar) with exceptionally fine silver and brass-inlaid hilt and scabbard, Bidar, Central India, 17th century; 15 ¼ ins. (38.8 cm.) long. Estimate USD 80,000 - USD 120,000. Price realised USD 112,500. Christie's Images Ltd 2019
Watered-steel blade, the forte with rubbed inscription cartouche reading ‘’Ali’, the top of the hit with overlaid gold decoration, original finial probably lacking.
Provenance: Christie’s, London, 8 October 2015, lot 154.
Exhibited: Higgins Armory Museum, Worcester MA, September-December, 1994.
Note: The very fine and controlled rendering of the poppy heads which decorated this dagger are very closely related in design to a bidri spittoon which Mark Zebrowski dates to the 18th century (Zebrowski, 1997, p.181, no.259). It is clear however, even in light of the similarity of design, that our dagger predates the spittoon. Robert Alderman states that the presence of both silver and brass inlay is a feature of early bidri wares, confirming that our dagger predates the 18th century (Haidar and Sardar, 2015, p.186).
The intricate balance between the larger poppies and the lattice formed by smaller poppies and fine tapering leaves is similar to the enamelled decoration on a sheath of a dagger in the Al-Sabah Collection which is attributed to Mughal or Deccani Sultanates, mid-17th century (Inv. LNS 2221; Stronge, 2010, p.221, pl.183). The form of our dagger with its raised central ring around the grip is typical of the Deccan. A dagger inscribed with verses dedicated to ‘Ali of closely related form to our present dagger is catalogued as 17th century Deccani (Mohamed, 200, pp. 218 and 227, p.218).