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Dagger hilt

Dagger hilt

  • Place of origin:

    India (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Rock crystal, cut and polished using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This dagger hilt was made in India, probably in the late 18th or early 19th century. 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. It was acquired in India by William Tayler (1829-1867), and sold by him to this museum in 1874.

Physical description

A dagger hilt with a pistol grip and a scroll-like pommel, fashioned in colourless rock crystal with a good polish. Apart from the scrolled quillons and the leaf decoration carved in low relief at the blade end, the surface is plain. There is a protrusion from the hilt, which has suffered damage, where the blade would have been attached.

Place of Origin

India (made)


18th century (made)

Materials and Techniques

Rock crystal, cut and polished using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools.


Length: 129.7 mm 723-1874, Length: 119.3 mm 723-1874, Width: 55.6 mm 723-1874, Depth: 21.9 mm 723-1874

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 £5-0-0.

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 with pistol grip and scroll-like pommel, rock crystal, polished and with minimal decoration, Mughal, India, 18th century


Quartz crystal


Arms & Armour; Gemstones; Hardstone


South & South East Asia Collection

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