Khanjar Dagger of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
- Dated: AH 1039/ AD 1629-30
- Place of Origin: Akbarabad (Agra)
- Measurements: blade 20.5 cm. long; 40.8 cm. long including scabbard
The dagger has a curved, watered steel and tapering blade, swollen at the tip, double-edged with a central ridge, plus gold koftgari decoration on either side below the forte consisting of a cartouche bearing two long narrow rectangular panels. Each one of these is flanked by four-lobed cartouches, all containing fine inscriptions in nasta’liq, the contours with small flowerheads.
The dagger has two borders with continuous undulating floral motifs, the pointed cartouche terminating with a flowerhead surmounted by a miniature trefoil from which rises a parasol. The blade with watered steel extension at the forte, has a brown and white sardonyx hilt, its grip waisted and faceted, the leather-covered scabbard embossed with vertical floral bands. The borders are made of the silver mounts cut and pierced with a multi-lobed and trefoil design, while the chape comes with bud finial.
Apparently the dagger is the second known personal dagger of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (reg. 1628-57). Relatively few personal objects of Shah Jahan have survived. With its high quality and complete inscription, the present lot is an important addition to this small corpus and is the earliest dated piece. The scabbard is covered with embossed leather with a cloud band resembling Timurid work, while the plain silver fittings with pierced decorations are found in both Persian and Mughal arms of the period.
The inscription and the dagger are made in gold of two shades and they read:
In the long panels:
khanjar-e shahanshah-e din-parvar-e giti setan
shah-e ghazi thani saheb-qeran shah-e jahan
hast manand-e mah-e naw liken az nur-e zafar
mikonad chon tigh-e khur giti foruzi javdan
'The dagger of the king of kings, the defender of religion and conqueror of the world. The conqueror king, the second Lord of happy conjunction, Shah Jahan, is like the new moon, but out of its shining triumphs, it makes the world shine eternally like the rays of the Sun.'
In the four-lobed cartouches:
ya allah/ya fattah/ya mu’in/ya nasir
'Oh God! O the Ever-opener (of all gates)! O the Aider! O the Helper!'
be-dar al-khalafa/akbar abad/surat-e etmam yaft/sana 2 jolus/1039
'It was completed in the capital Akbar-Abad in the regal year 2. 1039 (1629-30).’
- Shah Jahan was born Prince Khurram Shihab al-Din Muhammad in 1592 in Lahore, the third and favourite son of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, and was later titled Shah Jahan or King of the World in 1627.
- His reign was called the Golden Age of the Mughals and the empire experienced its greatest period of prosperity and stability. Under his rule, Mughal artistic and architectural achievements reached their zenith.
- He was a patron of the fine arts and continued to foster the Mughal tradition of painting, and was also a prolific builder with a highly refined aesthetic.
- Great monuments from his reign include the Taj Mahal and the Pearl Mosque at Agra, the Divan-e ‘Am, the Divan-e Khas, the Jami? and Moti mosques and the Palace in Delhi, and the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. He also created the fabled Peacock Throne, or Takht-e Tawus, to celebrate his rule.
- Regarding the weaponry in the Mughal Period, by Shah Jahan’s time weapons were no longer only for warfare: they had become great works of art in their own right, being decorated with enamels, precious metals and stones.
- Mughal princes, nobles and high officials were honoured regularly by the emperor with daggers, knives and swords, which were worn as symbols of a wearer’s status. The most common types being the khatar or push-dagger and khanjar with its curved blade. An etiquette of weaponry also developed concerning whether it was permitted to wear a weapon or not.
- For example, it was considered inappropriate for the emperor or a prince to wear a dagger while visiting or receiving individual holy men, even though we are told Shah Jahan wore a dagger when honouring his religious orthodoxy, and his sons and courtiers were also fully armed.
Source: Copyright © 2014 Bonhams