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Silver Khanjar with Watered Steel Blade
length: 55cm, weight: 622g
This khanjar (or kanjar) comprises a curved double-edged watered steel blade with a medial ridge, and a hilt and sheaf entirely sheathed in silver. (Khanjar in
Arabic means simply a 'knife' or 'dagger'.) The pommel and the guard of the hilt are engraved with ribbon, bow and quiver designs commonly seen on other
examples of Ottoman silver such as vases and drinking vessels and these motifs are whimsically interspersed with forest strawberries. This is matched with a
similar band of design at the top pf the scabbard, which is otherwise plain. The end of the hilt is decorated with a sun burst, stars and crescents design.
The scabbard is stamped with a clear Ottoman tughra and the top of the hilt has an associated etched 'zig-zag' assay mark.
The upper section of the blade is overlaid with Arabic inscriptions in gold on both sides (there are no losses to the gold overlay.) The inscription is short and
appears to be Koranic: the Arabic word for 'Allah' is evident.
A closely related khanjar is in the collection of the Tarskoye Selo Palace near St Petersurg. The St Petersburg example, also entirely sheathed in silver, has
an almost identical Arabic inscription on the blade. The etched design on the top of the handle is almost identical, suggesting that the Palace knife and this
knife came from the same workshop. The Tarskoye Selo knife is attributed to the eighteenth century, allowing a similar dating for this knife.
Elgood (2009, p. 253) illustrates another similar khanjar also entirely sheathed in silver and with a gold inscribed blade. Presumably a captured weapon, it had
been in the possession of the Greek fighter Georgakes Olympios (1772-1821) who led resistance against the Ottomans in the Balkans.
Overall, this is a fine and important khanjar, part of a small illustrious grouping of other similar khanjars that appear to share a common maker.
References: Khanjars of similar form and attributed to around 1800 are illustrated in Skott, O., 'H. Bronse Hansens Vabensamling' in Vaaben-Historiske
Aarborger, XXXV 1989; and in the collection of the Tsarskoye Selo Palace near St Petersurg, and illustrated in Arsenal of Tsarskoye Selo: One Hundred
Subjects from the Collection of the Russian Emperors, St Petersburg Publishing House Baltica, 2000 (page 40-41). Also see Elgood, R., The Arms of Greece:
And her Balkan Neighbours in the Ottoman Period, Thames & Hudson, 2009; and Stone, G.C., A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and use of Arms
and Armour in all Countries and in all Times: Together with some Closely Related Subjects, Southworth Press, 1961.
Provenance: UK art market.
Inventory no.: 918
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