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Old 25th February 2020, 10:49 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 57
Default New Rock Crystal Pesh-kabz

I've recently started collecting Indian arms, and, partly in response to Jens's request for more India related posts, here's a pesh-kabz I picked up recently. Comments welcome!

For comparison, I purchased a nice modern replica off of EBay for the sake of evaluating the chemistry of the two pieces with a portable XRF and better understanding the difference between an antique pesh-kabz and a modern one.

I think it should be self-evident when they are next to each other which dagger is the antique and which is modern. But the antique is the one with the classic, high quality wootz and high clarity rock crystal hilt, and the replica is the one with lower quality wootz and cloudy crystal hilt.

The antique is roughly 50 cm long and the replica is roughly 38 cm long.

The steel of the antique has the chemistry of pre-industrial steel while the steel of the replica has the chemistry of modern steel. The antique is also very sharp whereas the replica is not so sharp.

The seller dated the antique to the 18th or 19th century, and when it was at auction at Sotheby's a few years ago it was dated to the 18th century. The seller of the replica was honest in his representations and said it was modern.

The hilt is of very high clarity crystal with a carved pattern at the upper edge. It's difficult to discern a difference between rock crystal and basic glass because they share a chemistry of SiO2. Both the replica and the antique are a pure SiO2.

The bolster of each dagger is inlaid in gold koftgari, but the gold of the antique is clearly antique gold while the gold of the replica is modern gold. The koftgari on the antique is also much more finely worked and impressive in the details of its floral motifs.

The koftgari on the antique continues down the entire length of the T-section spine.

The scabbard on the replica is simple green felt and I do not depict it below. Since appearing at Sotheby's, the seller has wrapped the original wood scabbard in red antique velvet and it is set with its original gilt-bronze mounts which depict flowers and birds or butterflies or maybe bees?

As a nice bonus, the dagger also makes an appearance in Arms and Armour of India, Nepal & Sri Lanka by Ravinder Reddy (a highly recommended book written from the perspective of and for the collector of Indian, or really any, arms).

Right now, this is probably my favorite piece in my collection. It's just beautiful and substantial.

There are a few public comparables that have sold at auction over the past decade. The most notable public comparable at a museum that I've found is the one at The Met; love the enamel inlay:

There is supposedly a comparable in the Al-Sabah collection (inv. no.LNS 279 HS; published in S. Kaoukji, Precious Indian Weapons and Other Princely Accoutrements, London, 2017, p.265). I was wondering if anyone could share pictures of this item?

Any nice pesh-kabz's, with or without rock-crystal hilts, out there to share? Or other rock-crystal hilts?
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