The style of this dagger is commonly known as “khanjar”. The ‘pistol-grip’ hilt, characterized by the slightly curved grip, has a rounded pommel in the shape of a bird’s head. The bird’s eyes are set with rubies. The hilt has a guard with its quillions curling upwards, terminating also in rubies. The double edged, slightly recurved, very sharp steel blade has a median rib and a slightly reinforced tip. The wooden scabbard was upholstered in red velvet, which has faded. Its locket and chape are of gold overlaid on steel, the same technique used as the hilt. They also have similar decorative schemes, consisting of large, round-petal flowers connected by vines.
The ‘pistol-grip’ style hilt first appeared in India in the mid seventeenth century. It became most popular in the eighteenth century as many contemporary manuscript paintings depicted daggers in this style being worn. This style of daggers was primarily made with jade hilt, but also appear in ivory, steel and enameled gold. In the paintings, they are worn by tucked into the belt without visible attachment. Though, they are often accompanied by a dagger-cord made of gemstone, jade or metal which secures the dagger, so it does not fall out during physical activity.
Reference & Comparative Material
Folsach, Kjeld von, Joachim Meyer, and Peter Wandel. Fighting, Hunting, Impressing – Arms and Armour from the Islamic World 1500-1850. Copenhagen: Strandberg Publishing, 2021. Cat.39, p.144.