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Dagger hilt

Dagger hilt

  • Place of origin:

    India (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Rock crystal, cut and polished using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools. The holes were most probably made using a bow-drill.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This dagger hilt was made in India, probably in the early 19th century. The colourless clarity of the rock crystal would have enhanced the appearance of the dagger, while 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. It was acquired in India by William Tayler (1829-1867) and sold by him to this museum in 1874.

Physical description

A small, short dagger hilt fashioned in clear, colourless rock crystal and polished. The hilt tapers slightly towards the blade end which also has a ground protrusion with a drill hole for attaching to a blade. The hilt is flattened on the top with a small protrusion to the lower side at the end as well as a small, faceted protrusion located centrally in the end and which also has a small drill hole.

Place of Origin

India (made)

Materials and Techniques

Rock crystal, cut and polished using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools. The holes were most probably made using a bow-drill.


Length: 66.1 mm 725-1874, Length: 50.1 mm 725-1874, Width: 15.7 & 21.0 mm 725-1874, Depth: 13.3 & 16.0 mm 725-1874, Length: 10.0 mm 725-1874

Object history note

This dagger hilt was acquired by William Tayler during his time in India (1829-1867). He subsequently sold it to the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum) in 1874 for the sum of £1-0-0.

William Tayler was educated in England at Charterhouse and also spent a term at Christ Church, Oxford. He entered service with the East India Company on 30th April 1829, arriving in India in October of the same year. He held various posts in Bengal and was appointed Commissioner of Patna in 1855. During his service, he was able to acquire many objects, including hardstones, relating to the customs and religions of India as well as objects from other parts of South Asia.
He was criticised for his handling of the uprisings in Northern India and was moved to a lesser post before being suspended, ultimately resigning on 29th March 1859. He then practised as an advocate in the law courts of Bengal before returning to England in 1867.
He wrote a book about his experiences, entitled Thirty-eight Years in India, in which he states that "After my return to England, circumstances induced me, though with great reluctance, to part with the collection which is now in the South Kensington Museum".

Descriptive line

Dagger hilt for a small blade [peshkabz], short and slightly tapering, rock crystal, India


Quartz crystal


Arms & Armour; Gemstones; Hardstone


South & South East Asia Collection

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