Dagger with a Gold Overlaid Handle
This dagger is beautifully decorated with gold overlay. On the iron hilt are leafy stems and flowers sprouting from the quillon block, curling to the sides and upwards along the grip and around the pommel. With the scabbard on, the pattern continues onto the locket with the stems and flowers sprouting downwards, and again on the chape with the pattern facing upwards. The same format applies to the reverse of the hilt and scabbard where there is an arabesque pattern. The watered steel blade has a sunken panel with median ridge and lotus motif, and ends with a swollen tip. The forte bears further gold overlay designs featuring lotus flowers. The wooden scabbard is covered with velvet and has metal thread trim.
Along the base of the quillon block are two inscriptions in Devanagari reading: ‘Rai Sahib Raja Shri Ranjit Singh Ji’; ‘Dagger made in the armoury 1882’. Rai Ranjit Singh of Bandanwara (b. 1844) was a landowner with a large estate south of the Nasirabad Cantonment, Rajasthan. Further examples of daggers formerly in his collection are illustrated in Hales, p. 16, No. 39.
Literature: Hales, R. Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hales, England, 2013.
Bayley, C. S. Chiefs and Leading Families in Rajputana, Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India, 1894, p. 109.