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Dagger and sheath

Dagger and sheath

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal empire (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Steel, rock crystal, gilt metal, velvet and wood. Fashioned using a wide variety of techniques.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This 18th century Mughal dagger, with its finely decorated hilt, would most probably have been made as much for appearance as for functionality. Although the colourless clarity of the rock crystal would have enhanced the appearance of the dagger, the weight of the hilt would also have helped to counter-balance the steel blade. A major disadvantage would have been that sharp impacts to the hilt could have resulted in severe damage to it, possible sufficient to render the dagger unusable without a replacement hilt.

Physical description

A dagger and sheath. The dagger has a double-edged, gently-curved steel blade that has been set into a hilt with a pistol grip. The hilt has been fashioned in clear, colourless rock crystal with scroll-shaped quillons - one of which has been broken off (the two fragments are present in a separate bag, as of 03/03/2016, previously unassociated). The hilt has been decorated with multi-petalled flowers, leaves and fronds carved in low relief on and around the pommel and the quillons, with the middle part being left unadorned. It has a good overall polish.
The sheath is gently-curved and is covered in a worn, brownish beige velvet over a wooden carcass. The sheath has a pierced, gilt metal throat and chape both of which have been covered with pointillé decoration of flowers and leaves. There is a flattened finial at the very tip of the chape and there is a break to the underlying carcass which allows the chape to move sideways.

Place of Origin

Mughal empire (made)


18th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Steel, rock crystal, gilt metal, velvet and wood. Fashioned using a wide variety of techniques.


Length: 366.5 mm IM.327-1920 +/- 1, Width: 37.0 mm IM.327-1920, Length: 117.5 mm IM.327-1920, Thickness: 26.3 mm IM.327-1920, Length: 291 mm IM.327A-1920 +/- 1, Length: 70.8 mm IM.327A-1920, Width: 41.6 mm IM.327A-1920, Length: 107.2 mm IM.327A-1920, Width: 21.0 mm IM.327A-1920

Object history note

Bought from Captain Rupert Simson (on behalf of the Public Trustee), 32 Brompton Square, SW3. RP 1920/7630

Historical context note

Extract from Capt. Simson's first letter 12/10/20:
"According to my father's wishes, I have been given permission by the Public Trustee, who is the sole executor & trustee for my father's estate, to offer you his collection of Indian rock-crystals, now on loan in the Indian section of the V&A Museum, at the price of £550" [=IM.324-1920 to IM.332-1924]

Descriptive line

Dagger [khanjar], double-edged, gently-curved steel blade, rock crystal hilt, carved flower decoration, hilt damaged with two detached fragments in a bag,; sheath, brownish beige velvet on wood, pierced gilt metal mounts, pointillé decoration, Mughal empire, 18th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

p. 230, cat. no. 1196
The art of India and Pakistan, a commemorative catalogue of the exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1947-8. Edited by Sir Leigh Ashton. London: Faber and Faber, [1950]


Rock crystal; Steel; Gilt metal; Velvet; Wood


Arms & Armour; Gemstones; Hardstone


South & South East Asia Collection

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