Sword of Dara Shokuh thumbnail 1
Sword of Dara Shokuh thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
South Asia, Room 41

Sword of Dara Shokuh

Sword
1640-1641 (made)
Place Of Origin

The very fine watered steel blade of this sword is inscribed on the back 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 prince 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 and probably in the 19th century.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Sword
  • Sword Sheath
Materials and Techniques
watered steel; gold; enamel; wood; velvet
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.
Dimensions
  • Whole sword length: 85.1cm
  • Blade length: 71.7cm
  • Scabbard length: 73.8cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
(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.)
Credit line
Given by the Right Hon. the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum
Object history
Given by the Right Hon. the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum
Subjects depicted
Summary
The very fine watered steel blade of this sword is inscribed on the back 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 prince 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 and probably in the 19th century.
Bibliographic References
  • 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.p.96, no.75The Indian Heritage. Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule. HMSO, 1982. Cat. 428, pp 132-3. Catalogue 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.
  • Skelton, Robert, et al, The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982Stronge, Susan, p.132, cat.428
  • Stronge, S. Made for Mughal Emperors. Royal Treasures from Hindustan. London and New York, 2010p. 185, pl. 146
  • R. Elgood, Vol. 10, 2004, "Mughal Arms and the Indian Court Tradition", p. 87, fig. 13.
Collection
Accession Number
IS.214-1964

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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