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Old 26th February 2020, 07:41 PM   #10
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 57

TVV, Thank you for the images! The bare hilt on page 265 is interesting and bears a close resemblance to a hilt in the Victoria & Albert Museum:

While acknowledging Ariel's comments regarding a potential Al-Sabah agency dilemma, the very similar hilt in the VAM was acquired at some point between 1829 and 1867, and dated to the early 19th century. Likewise, The Met crystal dagger was acquired at sometime prior to 1927, and they date it to the 18th or 19th century.

According to my brief internet research, the first Belgian exports of pressed glass to India commenced in 1839 by Val Saint Lambert ( The author discusses other pressed glass products, including lamp covers, exported from Europe to India, but does not specifically mention glass hilts. And Elgood's comment re glass hilts coming from Belgium relies on a citation that lamps in certain Indian temples were imported from Europe. An even briefer search for 19th century Val Saint Lambert glass hilts does not turn up anything useful. But I'm not sure that any of this is dispositive of anything with regards to the hilt of my dagger or the hilts in VAM, The Met, or Al-Sabah.

I took a half-hearted swipe at the hilt with a piece of a quartz and it only left a superficial scratch that rubbed off at the touch of my thumb--unlike the permanent gouge the quartz put in the drinking glass at my desk. When I get the chance, I need to take it to a jeweler to test the conductivity.

Most daggers with one piece rock hilts are not suitable for combat use as the joint between the hilt and the blade cannot withstand strong shocks, and the hilts themselves are prone to cracking. They became popular around 1900 when daggers gained more of a decorative/status role.
In regards to the above analysis concluding that rock hilts did not become popular until around 1900, I would question this. Hadn't daggers served a largely decorative/status and ceremonial roll at, in particular, northern courts since at least the early 17th century, for example, the Jahangir dagger in Elgood's Rajput Arms & Armour? How much more robust are jade or walrus ivory hilted daggers than a crystal-hilted dagger, with or without a tang? And crystal was quite the fashion in Mughal courts. There is at least one rock crystal hilt in a museum, the VAM example, that can be highly likely dated to at least as early as the mid-19th century. And that particular shape is somewhat common as seen in Jens's dagger above and in The Met example, which suggests that crystal (rock- or glass) was a popular hilt material well prior to 1900.

For me, the attraction of Indian arms is not in their raw marshal utility, but in their beauty. But if marshal utility is your thing, the nicks in the blade of my pesh kabz indicate that a child likely fought some imaginary battles with this dagger!

Just looking at the pics, I am not sure whether wootz on the smaller one is modern. Wootz patterns varied enormously and while a classy Kara-taban is highly likely to be old and Persian, the indistinct and undistinguished ones could have been made any time and anywhere.
Regarding the above comment, acknowledged regarding a lesser wootz pattern potentially being of any age, but in this case the wootz pattern on the smaller blade is irrelevant. The steel itself is, without doubt, a very modern stainless steel alloy.

Mahratt, Thank you for the photo. That must be pre-Oct 2015?

Jens, Both of those daggers are beautiful. Your hilt looks like a nice lattice of SiO2, but do you know or have an opinion on whether it's quartz or glass?
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