Tiger Claws thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
South Asia, Room 41

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Tiger Claws

ca. 17th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This weapon belonged to James Grant Duff (1789- 1858), an officer of the East India Company who was appointed Resident (political agent) of the Satara State in 1818. The weapon is accompanied by a fitted case, made after Grant Duff returned to Scotland, that is inscribed: "The 'Wagnuck' of Sivajee With Which He Killed the Moghul General. This Relic was given to Mr. James Grant-Duff of Eden When he was Resident at Satara By the Prime Minister of the Peshwa of the Marathas". This refers to a famous moment during the complicated political upheavals of 17th-century India. During a protracted military engagement in 1659, the Maratha leader Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (r.1664-1680) and Afzal Khan (?-1659), the commander of the opposing Bijapur army, arranged a truce and met in a tented enclosure. Both came armed: Shivaji wore mail under his clothes and metal skull protection under his turban. He also held a metal ‘tiger claws’ weapon concealed in his hand. The two men fought, and Shivaji disembowelled his opponent. It is not possible to verify whether these tiger claws are the ones used by the celebrated Maratha ruler nearly 160 years before the weapon was gifted to Grant Duff. The circumstances of the gift also remain unclear. The last Peshwa of the Marathas, Baji Rao II (1775-1851), surrendered to the British in June 1818 after defeat in the Third Anglo-Maratha War and was banished to Bithoor near Kanpur. It is possible one of his key officials presented the weapon to Grant Duff.



Object details

Category
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Case
  • Tiger Claws
Materials and techniques
Steel
Brief description
Tiger claws, steel, Deccan, 17th century
Physical description
Steel tiger claws, bagh nakh, a weapon designed to be concealed in the palm of the hand. It has four ‘claws’ mounted on a bar with two rings for the first and fourth fingers. The difference in size between the two rings indicates that it is a weapon to be used in the left hand.
Dimensions
  • Depth: 95mm
  • Length: 8.6cm
Credit line
Given by Mr Adrian Grant Duff
Object history
This weapon was gifted to the V&A by Adrian Grant Duff, a descendant of James Grant Duff (1789- 1858) who was an officer of the East India Company. The object has a red leather case inscribed "The 'Wagnuck' of Sivajee With Which He Killed the Moghul General. This Relic was given to Mr. James Grant-Duff of Eden When he was Resident at Satara By the Prime Minister of the Peshwa of the Marathas". After serving in Satara, James Grant Duff returned home to Scotland. In 1825 he succeeded to the family estate in Eden and only then took the name Duff, so we know the inscribed box was made after this date.
Summary
This weapon belonged to James Grant Duff (1789- 1858), an officer of the East India Company who was appointed Resident (political agent) of the Satara State in 1818. The weapon is accompanied by a fitted case, made after Grant Duff returned to Scotland, that is inscribed: "The 'Wagnuck' of Sivajee With Which He Killed the Moghul General. This Relic was given to Mr. James Grant-Duff of Eden When he was Resident at Satara By the Prime Minister of the Peshwa of the Marathas". This refers to a famous moment during the complicated political upheavals of 17th-century India. During a protracted military engagement in 1659, the Maratha leader Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (r.1664-1680) and Afzal Khan (?-1659), the commander of the opposing Bijapur army, arranged a truce and met in a tented enclosure. Both came armed: Shivaji wore mail under his clothes and metal skull protection under his turban. He also held a metal ‘tiger claws’ weapon concealed in his hand. The two men fought, and Shivaji disembowelled his opponent. It is not possible to verify whether these tiger claws are the ones used by the celebrated Maratha ruler nearly 160 years before the weapon was gifted to Grant Duff. The circumstances of the gift also remain unclear. The last Peshwa of the Marathas, Baji Rao II (1775-1851), surrendered to the British in June 1818 after defeat in the Third Anglo-Maratha War and was banished to Bithoor near Kanpur. It is possible one of his key officials presented the weapon to Grant Duff.

Bibliographic reference
Jackson, Anna and Jaffer, Amin (eds), with Deepika Ahlawat. Maharaja : the splendour of India's royal courts. London, V&A Publishing, 2009. ISBN.9781851775736 (hbk.), ISBN.1851775730 (hbk.). plate 5, p.17
Collection
Accession number
IS.33-1971

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Record createdApril 25, 2007
Record URL
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