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Old 2nd September 2020, 09:38 PM   #1
RAMBA
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Default Persian Dagger

"A FINE 19TH CENTURY PERSIAN GOLD INLAID WATERED STEEL DAGGER, inlaid with gold with calligraphy, and hare carved decor to the hilt, 35cm."

This piece was sold last night at auction. I'm very interested as to its form and use. Seems to be of such a unique shape and construction that has me thinking it has a specific purpose.

Any capacity to translate the text would be good too.Thanks.
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Old 3rd September 2020, 04:01 AM   #2
Ian
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This is a beautiful small knife. I think it may well be older than 19th C as the blade seems to be wootz. Such a small knife could be a dagger, but its appearance looks more ceremonial to me. The blade does not follow traditional Persian weapons. What comes to mind is a circumcision knife. Circumcision was introduced into Persia at the same time as Islam. Other surgical purposes, such as cutting for urinary stones, might also fit. The shape of the hilt resembles some 18/19th C. European surgical scalpels.

Persian arms are not my area of specific interest, so just a guess.

Last edited by Ian : 3rd September 2020 at 04:28 AM. Reason: Added text
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Old 3rd September 2020, 07:09 AM   #3
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At 35 cm it a big knife be waved around your private parts. I would think of animal sacrifice?
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Old 3rd September 2020, 08:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
This is a beautiful small knife. I think it may well be older than 19th C as the blade seems to be wootz. Such a small knife could be a dagger, but its appearance looks more ceremonial to me. The blade does not follow traditional Persian weapons. What comes to mind is a circumcision knife. Circumcision was introduced into Persia at the same time as Islam. Other surgical purposes, such as cutting for urinary stones, might also fit. The shape of the hilt resembles some 18/19th C. European surgical scalpels.

Persian arms are not my area of specific interest, so just a guess.


I question the 19th C attribution and believe also it is earlier. Or parts of it. I was thinking a sacrificial knife to cut the throat of an animal from behind.

Last edited by RAMBA : 3rd September 2020 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 3rd September 2020, 08:07 AM   #5
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Hello,

To me, this looks like a repurposed shamshir blade fragment.

Have a look a koftgari with langet shapes.
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Old 3rd September 2020, 09:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Hello,

To me, this looks like a repurposed shamshir blade fragment.

Have a look a koftgari with langet shapes.


Interesting observation.
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Old 3rd September 2020, 12:24 PM   #7
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Considering the goldwork, the blade, whatever it may be, was intended to have a guard with langets, despite it's size. I've seen similar, they are not repurposed, simply unusual. It bears the classic inscription, "There is no hero like 'Ali, and no sword like Zulfaqar," so a surgical application seems unlikely.
The goldwork was done in the mid-19th century.

The grip is made up; the wooden block is decorated with the wristplate from an 18th century armguard. The notion of tourist trinkets is an ancient one in the Middle East and Central Asia. Britain and France, and later, Russia, maintained a presence in Iran for much of the 19th century. It may well have been fabricated as a gift or memento.
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Old 3rd September 2020, 12:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
At 35 cm it a big knife be waved around your private parts. I would think of animal sacrifice?
Hi Tim,

I was taking the 35 cm (about 13.7 in.) to indicate OAL, which would mean that the blade would be about 8–9 in. in length. That's probably bigger than most Jewish circumcision knives but I don't know what Persians used. Also, Jewish circumcision knives mostly have straight edges, whereas old Indonesian knives used for the same purpose tended to have curved edges (though not as curved as this knife).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
... To me, this looks like a repurposed shamshir blade fragment. ...
Hi mariusgmioc,

To me the blade looks too thin and the curvature too severe to have come from the thickest part of a shamshir adjacent to the hilt.

Last edited by Ian : 3rd September 2020 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 3rd September 2020, 01:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
Considering the goldwork, the blade, whatever it may be, was intended to have a guard with langets, despite it's size. I've seen similar, they are not repurposed, simply unusual. It bears the classic inscription, "There is no hero like 'Ali, and no sword like Zulfaqar," so a surgical application seems unlikely.
The goldwork was done in the mid-19th century.

The grip is made up; the wooden block is decorated with the wristplate from an 18th century armguard. The notion of tourist trinkets is an ancient one in the Middle East and Central Asia. Britain and France, and later, Russia, maintained a presence in Iran for much of the 19th century. It may well have been fabricated as a gift or memento.


How interesting being, in part, a repurposed wristplate from an 18th century armguard.Very insightful comments. Thanks.
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Old 3rd September 2020, 05:10 PM   #10
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Judging from the photos alone is tricky and can be misleading, but to my eyes the blade looks very odd.

To my eyes, this blade does not look that it was originally shaped like this. It looks like a classic wedge/triangular cross-section shamshir blade that has been reshaped (hence the apparent wootz steel of the blade). The double edge of the tip may have been made through removal of material. Also the curvature of the blade may have been accentuated by the shaping of the tip.

The koftgari may have been added later and the presence of langet shapes does not make too much sense with the current hilt. So, I believe the current hilt may be an even later addition.



And almost certainly this is not a circumcision knife. A circumcision knife should be a small knife for precision cut and definitely not a khanjar-sized double-edged dagger. Why would one need a 35 cm DOUBLE-edged blade to cut 5 mm of skin?!

Last edited by mariusgmioc : 4th September 2020 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 3rd September 2020, 07:54 PM   #11
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I can buy ( with reservations) the unusual shape of the blade and the latter addition of koftgari ( this may be perfectly correct comment).

But the handle makes no sense at all: no known analogies and its ergonomics is unsuitable for man or beast.

I tend to believe that the entire ensemble is a dog’s breakfast, happily bought by a European visitor with either strange taste or with rudimentary ( if any) understanding. Likely both.

I wouldn’t bid on it. Pure IMHO.
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