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Old 19th September 2017, 08:55 PM   #1
grendolino
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Default What a history

This somehow conventional Indian khanjar was sold lately by a well known Italian seller.
But not the item but its history had amazed me.
According to the seller's description it is a GIFT OF THE LAST SHOGUN TOKUGAWA IESADA TO THE COMMANDER MATTHEW C. PERRY.

The lid with text, chiselled in Japanese, indicating the act of donation from the XIII Shogun Tokugawa Iesada to the Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry in the 1854, to celebrate the Kanagawa Convention, signed by both of them.
Another japanese replacement is the painted, porcelain, sphere-shaped pendant.

I hope that I made no offence sharing this post, description and pictures with the forumites though unfortunately I'm not the buyer.
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Old 20th September 2017, 11:35 AM   #2
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Nice dagger and I like the symbolism of a sword as a diplomatic gift.

Roland
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Old 20th September 2017, 02:42 PM   #3
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Its a nice Indian Mughal style dagger. Copper kundan is known to be used instead of traditional gold. Jens is an expert in the field, and also has a fine copper kundan dagger, and perhaps will comment on. Also, the hilt contour (and color of jade, if the hilt is jade) does not match the scabbard throat, and could be not original to each other. The work on the scabbard... Asian(?), known to produce Mughal like hilts and daggers.
The writing on the box IMHO is not enough for claimed provenance without solid paper-based evidence. Are there any additional records to support a claim?
The box and pendant weaving do not look 19thC to me. The small red stone setting on the scabbard close-up, and "drilled" setting with missed gem on the hilt (and the hilt itself) seem to be off... just a few observations
...
Also, is there a photo of the blade?
...

Last edited by ALEX : 20th September 2017 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 20th September 2017, 06:11 PM   #4
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Seems strange that a Japanese Shogun would make a gift of a non-Japanese dagger as a diplomatic offering, especially considering the world renown bladesmithing of the Japanese culture.
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Old 20th September 2017, 07:07 PM   #5
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The workmanship on some scabbard details certainly looks off, as look the calligraphy on the box (the three lines with smaller characters - quite careless work).

And Tokugawa Iesada wasn't the last Shogun.
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Old 20th September 2017, 11:41 PM   #6
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The workmanship does not look like the quality that a Shogun would send as a gift to an important foreign Diplomatic envoy.
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Old 21st September 2017, 06:08 AM   #7
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The history is fascinating but the dagger doesn't appear to live to it.

I find extremely strange that a Japanese shogun will present a foreign dignitary with an Indian dagger.

Why not a Katana or a Tanto. Why not a Japanese fan with cranes a Mt. Fuji, why not some Japanese Maki-e or some Satsuma/Arita/Kutani ceramics?

Japanese are deservingly proud of their arts and crafts, so again, why present a foreign dignitary with an Indian dagger?!

Last edited by mariusgmioc : 21st September 2017 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 21st September 2017, 09:34 AM   #8
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Considering a combination of an item and provenance, not history alone, is a proper approach. This particular item calls into question the story as a whole. Firstly, it is an Indian Mughal style, but was it made in India? Could it be made in Japan, which could explain anomalies from traditional Indian Mughal craftsmanship? Secondly, and as noted by others, the integrity and workmanship of the dagger and the case is questionable for supposedly high status item. The theory of put-together item, and the provenance, is also quite plausible, considering all the above and the Italian auction houses reputation... there's a meat cleaver being pitched as rare important executioners sword by one of them... also hope I made no offence sharing this.
The auction's description about a tassel being "definitely added on shogun order" falls right in with the rest of the story... the provenance based on a small porcelain ball and carved characters on the wooden box.
This well could be as claimed, and seems like those who bid on it thought as such. the opinion expressed is strictly personal.
Also, below is an image with the blade shown.
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Last edited by ALEX : 21st September 2017 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 21st September 2017, 05:39 PM   #9
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Hi Alex,
It is an Indian dagger all right. I don't discern any Japanese style/influence. Not even the small painted ball (which looks more Chinese to me).

I also got asimilar dagger but without such a history... and price tag. The red stones are rubies, the orange, agathes and the green... glass. For my knife, the ruby eyes are mounted in gold... while for the "shogunal gift" ... I'm not so sure...
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Old 21st September 2017, 05:50 PM   #10
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Someone believed the story. No close ups of the blade and copper kundan work? Maybe it was an early Chinese knock off of an Indian khanjar!! Has anyone here seen an Indian scabbard with jade on it like this one?
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Old 21st September 2017, 06:24 PM   #11
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The scabbard looks like Ottoman work, Turkish "rococo" (but of quite pedestrian quality). There are two daggers in Hale's book, p. 78, with similar jade (?) parts on scabbard.

The smaller Kanji on the box look like carved by a mentally disabled person by Japanese standards. There is no chance such writing could appear on a middle-19th cent. governments gift.
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Old 21st September 2017, 06:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Hi Alex,
It is an Indian dagger all right. I don't discern any Japanese style/influence...


Yes, it is certainly Indian dagger, not Japanese in neither style nor influence. But was it (entirely) made in India? Is it original... or Mughal style dagger made elsewhere like in Japan, China, etc.? Also, is it 19thC work really?
Your dagger looks more Indian. The eyes do look proper kundan, although the rest is not kundan as I am sure you know.
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Old 21st September 2017, 07:13 PM   #13
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Looks like there was originally gold on top of the copper.
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Old 21st September 2017, 08:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh
Looks like there was originally gold on top of the copper.


Nice close-up. Looks like it was gilded copper kundan. The exposed carving on the ridge looks clean, even and uniform, almost as machine made., does not look 19thC work.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 06:35 AM   #15
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I find it strange that the stones don't appear to be gems but coloured glass. But the photos can be deceiving.

Last edited by mariusgmioc : 22nd September 2017 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 09:29 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
And Tokugawa Iesada wasn't the last Shogun.



But he was the last Shogun with power. After the Meiji-restoration in 1868 the Shogun became politically totally meaningless. A person of honor and well reputation but nothing to say, which tangents the country's fate.


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Old 22nd September 2017, 10:18 AM   #17
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
But he was the last Shogun with power. After the Meiji-restoration in 1868 the Shogun became politically totally meaningless. A person of honor and well reputation but nothing to say, which tangents the country's fate.


Roland


To say Tokugawa Iesada was the last Shogun simply is historically incorrect. There were 2 Shoguns after him.

But if for you a person with the title of Shogun is imaginable in Japan after 1868 as it seems, correct facts are not something you are looking for.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 10:37 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
To say Tokugawa Iesada was the last Shogun simply is historically incorrect. There were 2 Shoguns after him.

But if for you a person with the title of Shogun is imaginable in Japan after 1868 as it seems, correct facts are not something you are looking for.



I said he was the last Shogun with political power, not the last Shogun!

"correct facts are not something you are looking for"
A gentleman reads this and kept silent.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 11:16 AM   #19
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Political power is a very questionable and relative thing. According to some historians Iesada was a very weak Shogun. The last one, Yoshinobu, was much more capable.

Quote:
"correct facts are not something you are looking for"
A gentleman reads this and kept silent.


And it is wise to do so.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 04:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
But he was the last Shogun with power. After the Meiji-restoration in 1868 the Shogun became politically totally meaningless. A person of honor and well reputation but nothing to say, which tangents the country's fate.


Roland
There was no shogunate after the Meiji, you can argue the exact date...some were between 1867 and 1868 but the title was abolished. Yes the former shogun was still around and involved but not as "shogun".

The last shogun was Tokugawa Yoshinobu (18371913), shogun from 1866-1867, the 15th and last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, he officially gave up the title of shogun in 1867, he was granted the rank of prince in 1902.

Last edited by estcrh : 22nd September 2017 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 04:29 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
But he was the last Shogun with power. After the Meiji-restoration in 1868 the Shogun became politically totally meaningless. A person of honor and well reputation but nothing to say, which tangents the country's fate.


Roland
Tokugawa Ieyoshi was really the last of the powerful shoguns I think, his son Tokugawa Iesada who became shogun when Ieyoshi died was seen as being at the forefront of the decline which eventually let to the elimination of the shogunate. Ieyoshi died while working out a treaty with the Americans. The events which happened after his death led directly to the end of the samurai era.

The Tokugawa shogunate, which at one time owned vast resources along with being seen as the worlds largest estate as far as land holdings held almost total control over the entire country. In a very short period of time they managed to lose everything. A good lesson for the modern world.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 04:33 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
I find it strange that the stones don't appear to be gems but coloured glass. But the photos can be deceiving.
You are probably right, maybe gems and gold were removed, with the gems being replaced. But the blade does not appear to be of the quality expected as well in my opinion.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 04:44 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh
You are probably right, maybe gems and gold were removed, with the gems being replaced. But the blade does not appear to be of the quality expected as well in my opinion.


I was thinking pretty much the same albeit the quality of the photos make the assesment of the blade very difficult.

All in all, this dagger and its story raise more question marks than the pyramids...
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Old 22nd September 2017, 09:10 PM   #24
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Long, long ago somebody on this Forum said: " Buy the sword, not the story".

I still remember it.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 11:24 PM   #25
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Old 23rd September 2017, 08:37 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Long, long ago somebody on this Forum said: " Buy the sword, not the story".

I still remember it.


So much true! Yet, very often people prefer to buy the story.

@ Rick

Didn't see this thread. Made me smile! Reminded me Alan's story about the "flying keris."
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Old 23rd September 2017, 09:20 AM   #27
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Stories are important, especially when we are dealing with historical swords. After all, history is a " (hi)-story":-)

But they need to be substantiated by solid documentation. Then they can legitimately elevate the value ( and the price) of the object many fold. Provenance has its own value, and we all know the examples. Seller's descriptions that are unsubstantiated by any objective evidence usually smell of deceit.


How about we start a thread of real "hi-story- cal" examples ? Something with well-known, -museum,- things, from our own collections or even from auction sales that flew under the radar?
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Old 23rd September 2017, 10:28 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel


How about we start a thread of real "hi-story- cal" examples ? Something with well-known, -museum,- things, from our own collections or even from auction sales that flew under the radar?


Brilliant idea! I think it would become a classic thread growing continuously.

I have one interesting piece but cannot start the thread as I am in the hospital. However, how "real" its history might be is debatable. Nevertheless, I think its history is much more plausible than the one of this thread.

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