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Sword - Sword of Dara Shokuh

Sword of Dara Shokuh

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Lahore (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1640-1641 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    watered steel; gold; enamel; wood; velvet

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Right Hon. the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    South Asia, Room 41, case 22 []

The very fine watered steel blade of this sword is inscribed on the back of the blade with a Persian inscription inlaid in gold stating that it belonged to the Mughal prince Dara Shokuh (1615-1659), the son and preferred successor of the emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). The verses may be translated as: 'This sword (tigh) of the princed called Dara Shokuh/Takes care of a thousand enemies at one go'. When Shah Jahan fell ill in 1658, another son, Aurangzeb, usurped the throne, had Dara Shokuh killed during a fierce war of succession and declared himself emperor with the title 'Alamgir.
The blade is also inlaid on one side with a gold parasol signifying its royal ownership. The sword must have been made in a court workshop, perhaps in Lahore which was a traditional centre of weapons production. A date is stamped on one side of the blade near a forte. The third digit is indistinct, but is probably '5', making the date 1050 AH, or 1640-41. The scabbard and its enamelled gold mounts are almost certainly later, made in India probably in the 19th century.

Physical description

The curving blade of the sword is of very fine watered steel. It has a date stamped into one side at the forte, which seems to be 1050. The steel hilt is overlaid with gold flowering plants and there is a heavy tassel attached to the pommel. The wooden scabbard is covered with velvet and has a gold brocaded belt wrapped round the upper section. The fittings of the scabbard and belt are gold, enamelled in translucent green vine and grape motifs.

Place of Origin

Lahore (possibly, made)


1640-1641 (made)

Materials and Techniques

watered steel; gold; enamel; wood; velvet

Marks and inscriptions

In tegh-e shahzada-i Dara Shikuhnam/Kar-i hazar khasm ba yakdam konad tamam
This sword of the Prince called Dara Shikuh/ Takes care of a thousand enemies at one go.
Inlaid in gold on back of blade. There is also a stamped inscription on the blade: 'Dara Shikhui' and a partidally defaced date that seems to be 1050 [=AH; AD1640-1641] though the 5 is not entirely clear.


Length: 85.1 cm whole sword, Length: 71.7 cm blade, Length: 73.8 cm scabbard

Object history note

Given by the Right Hon. the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum

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

The Indian Heritage. Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule. HMSO, 1982. Cat. 428, pp 132-3. Catallgue entry by S Stronge with verses read for the first time by A.S. Melikian-Chirvani.
Pratapaditya Pal, Janice Leoshko, Joseph M. Dye, III, Stephen Markel. Romance of the Taj Mahal, Time Books International, New Delhi, 1989, fig. 176 p. 163, and p. 162.
p.96, no.75
Guy, John and Swallow, Deborah (eds.) Arts of India: 1550-1900. Text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990, reprinted 1999. 240 p. : ill. ISBN: 1851770224.
Stronge, Susan, p.132, cat.428
Skelton, Robert, et al, The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982
p. 185, pl. 146
Stronge, S. Made for Mughal Emperors. Royal Treasures from Hindustan. London and New York, 2010
R. Elgood, Vol. 10, 2004, "Mughal Arms and the Indian Court Tradition", p. 87, fig. 13.


Steel; Gold; Enamel

Subjects depicted

Grapes; Flowers; Parasol


Arms & Armour; Metalwork


South & South East Asia Collection

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