Rock Crystal Dagger
- Place of Origin: India
- Date: 18th/19th Century
- Overall: 500mm
A large and impressive Indian ‘Pesh Kabz’ dagger with rock crystal hilt and blade of wootz steel.
A massive piece of rock crystal, with
some naturally occurring crystallisation, is carved with a chevron
border at the top, and an integral pommel tag for a tassel. The steel
bolster is finely decorated with gold koftgari with large Mughal style
flowers surrounded by foliage.
The T-section blade is of exceptional quality and shows a high
contrast watered pattern. The spine decorated with thick gold koftgari
its entire length. The tip sharp and the edge polished brightly.
The wooden scabbard covered with later black velvet and fitted with
original copper gilt chape and throat piece, both fittings chased with
floral scenes and butterflies.
Articles made of rock crystal, both for use and decoration, were in
great favour at the Mughal court, and we should not overlook the use of
rock-crystal for purposes of divination. Mughal emperors were fond of
drinking wine from crystal cups. Tavernier (V.Ball trans. 1889) writes
that he once presented Aurungzeb a battle mace of rock-crystal, and
states he saw the emperor drink from a crystal cup upon three different
The cup (jam) of Jamshid (from Persian mythology) was said
to be filled with an elixir of immortality and the whole world was said
to be reflected in it. Divinations within the cup were said to reveal
deep truths. The cup has been visualized as a crystal ball, Zimmern’s
English translation of the Shahnameh uses the term “crystal globe”. The
Mughals may have taken some inspiration from Jamshid and I am sure the
drinking of wine helped with any divinations or visions they saw.
A similar dagger is in the Royal Jaipur collection and illustrated by Elgood (2015) cat.no.10, p.37.