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Old 18th May 2022, 04:57 PM   #1
10thRoyal
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Default Calligraphy handled (choora?) dagger

Good afternoon, I was hoping someone here might have some information on examples of daggers with handles wrought in the shape of Arabic calligraphy. I have so far been unable to find any other examples of knives of this type. The example below from Sofe Design Auctions is described as being from the late 18th century but I can't find any information to corroborate the age or origin. The auction house states that the blade reads "Nasir". I would love to hear any thoughts you may have.
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Old 18th May 2022, 08:18 PM   #2
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Here is a similar: https://www.instagram.com/p/BFvTRjmFkr7/
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Old 18th May 2022, 11:22 PM   #3
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I appreciate the reply. Definitely looks like the same handle but newer/different blade. I'm curious how these are constructed.
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Old 19th May 2022, 01:15 AM   #4
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The koftgari appears to be in excellent condition on both examples shown in this thread considering the stated age.
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Old 19th May 2022, 09:21 AM   #5
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The koftgari appears to be in excellent condition on both examples shown in this thread considering the stated age.
High status pieces and well looked after!
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Old 19th May 2022, 11:11 AM   #6
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Do I understand correctly that no one considers this item as an expensive souvenir for tourists?
Nobody was embarrassed that the metal parts of the scabbard were not decorated with gold, but at the same time some funny and non-functional part was welded to the bottom part?
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Old 19th May 2022, 01:51 PM   #7
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Do I understand correctly that no one considers this item as an expensive souvenir for tourists?
Maybe someone (or so many) does .
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Old 19th May 2022, 03:00 PM   #8
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Maybe it is just an old blade on a touristy handle but it doesn't make a half bad piece of wall art
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Old 20th May 2022, 05:50 AM   #9
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See " Splendeur des armes orientales", p.119. Slightly more worn out koftgari, attributed to N. India, early 19th century.
The one from 10thRoyal has a blade forged from crystalline wootz , the pattern practically vanished post 17th century.
This is not a very practical weapon due to overfancy handle, likely worn infrequently or just stored in the personal collection of a highly placed person. Intact koftgari would not be unexpected as already mentioned by David R.

10thRoyal: if you were lucky enough to win it, - my congratulations! Ain't no touristy.

Last edited by ariel; 20th May 2022 at 06:03 AM.
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Old 20th May 2022, 06:39 AM   #10
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The similar example noted by ariel notwithstanding, I'm inclined to agree with Mahratt. The scabbard appears to be a poor mate for the apparent quality of the blade and hilt. There seems to be general agreement that this knife was produced for show rather than actual use.
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Old 20th May 2022, 11:12 AM   #11
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Ian,
Scabbards are by and large perishable. Imperial Russian military specified new scabbards for their regulation sabers every 3 years ( or something like it). Active use of swords/daggers requires frequent drawing and sheathing with inevitable damage to the organic components of scabbards. Even simple storage of anything made of wood and leather subjects them to inevitable failure due to temperature, moisture, infestation and rot. It is extremely unusual to find a 200 years old Indian bladed weapon in its original scabbard. Elgood advocates dating Indian swords by looking separately at the blade and the handle. But even he refrained from including scabbards in that equation.
Yes, there appears to be a different quality between the peshkabz as such and its scabbard. But Indian palaces were not climate controlled and even contemporary museums maintain rigid schedule of maintenance.
I am sure we cannot pinpoint the exact ages of this peshkabz as such and its scabbard, but IMHO there is no evidence of a touristy manufacture. On top of it , any recent forger would certainly invest an hour or two for applying a little bit of koftgari to the throat and chapee to pimp up the overall appearance and inflate the price.
Yes, we have to consided the possibility that this peshkabz was made in one of the royal workshops at the end of 19th-beginning of 20th century. But how do we explain its crystalline wootz? Also, such imitations of a respectable age were not touristy: they were aimed for personal royal collections and gifts to visiting dignitaries.
My 5 cents.

Last edited by ariel; 20th May 2022 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 20th May 2022, 11:57 AM   #12
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There are a lot of daggers for sale on ebay from India with blades made of crystalin Wootz but with new handles. Of course, the scabbard is a consumable item. But it is in these scabbards that the question arises that the metal parts are devoid of decor, and the incomprehensible welded element on the lower part (why is it needed at all? who saw similar elements on the lower parts of the scabbard) is decorated using the koftgari technique similar to the decor of the handle. I have no doubt that there was (and still is) an original item of this form and decor. By the way, as far as I remember, he does not have a scabbard. Please correct me if I'm wrong. But those similar items that have appeared at various auctions in recent years (for example, I saw a similar one at Czerny's auction) are modern copies. Or a combination of antique and modern elements.

My 2 cents.
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Old 20th May 2022, 12:17 PM   #13
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So I did actually end up putting a bid on this and ended up winning it at auction for half the low estimate which kind of surprised me. I honestly wanted it for the blade more than anything else. As for the little addition to the end of the scabbard, I interpreted that as the last "letter" of the word formed by the handle. Otherwise I have no idea why it would be placed where it is. If this indeed is the purpose of the descriptive element then that may add to mahratt's point of this being a later construction of parts.
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Old 20th May 2022, 12:17 PM   #14
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Really short stub tangs, like those in stone, glass, or crystal knives are not meant for actual combat. (Unless maybe the stub is braised in place in this metal grip?)


The 'funny' loop on the scabbard chape is more functional. You can tie decorative tassels to it, and it helps keep the scabbard in your sash when you pull out the dagger only to have the blade snap off at the glued-in tang when you stabbed an opponent in the armour.
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Old 20th May 2022, 12:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
The 'funny' loop on the scabbard chape is more functional. You can tie decorative tassels to it, and it helps keep the scabbard in your sash when you pull out the dagger only to have the blade snap off at the glued-in tang when you stabbed an opponent in the armour.
Thank you very much for the information. I will be very grateful if you post similar "loops" in the topic. It will be especially interesting if there are photos with such a loop on the bottom part of the scabbard, to which decorative tassels will be attached.
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Old 20th May 2022, 01:13 PM   #16
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...only to have the blade snap off at the glued-in tang when you stabbed an opponent in the armour.
I would pay good money to travel back in time to see this interaction play out.
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Old 20th May 2022, 01:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
See " Splendeur des armes orientales", p.119. Slightly more worn out koftgari, attributed to N. India, early 19th century.
Ariel, would you be able to post that page? I'd be curious to see it.
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Old 20th May 2022, 08:46 PM   #18
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The peshkabz from the “ Splendeur…” was part of the 1988 exhibition of oriental weapons. Those came from the collections of renowned French and British collectors as well as from some selected collectors who wished to remained anonymous. All items were carefully selected by the organizing committee. The peshkabz shown there is a virtual copy of the one acquired by 10thRoyal.

Nevertheless, I trust the integrity and the knowledge of the owners of the item exhibited in 1988 and the organizing committee. In the absence of any evidence of forgery/recent manufacture of either example all claims of the above should be viewed as baseless. All arguments in favor of “touristy” origin of the peshkabz shown here are based on some features of the scabbard. However, all other examples came without scabbards, so these arguments are invalid and cannot be counted as facts.

If somebody still believes the contrary, the onus is on him/her to prove it with hard facts.

For a long time everybody dated the so-called “chevron blades” to 17th century. It took Elgood to find out the descendant of the dynasty inventing such blades in the 19th century and to observe actual process of forging to change our belief.
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Old 20th May 2022, 08:52 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by ariel View Post
In the absence of any evidence of forgery/recent manufacture of either example all claims of the above should be viewed as baseless. If somebody still believes the contrary, the onus is on him/her to prove it with hard facts.
Keeping faith in miracles is wonderful.
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Old 20th May 2022, 08:57 PM   #20
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Done with, Gentlemen !
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Old 23rd May 2022, 06:30 PM   #21
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As someone whose collecting knowledge comes from the wild and wacky world of keris i must say that i have encountered many blades that would not be very good functional weapons that are in no way, shape or form "tourist" items. Is it possible this blade was created for a ceremonial function and not a practical one?
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Old 23rd May 2022, 08:09 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
Really short stub tangs, like those in stone, glass, or crystal knives are not meant for actual combat. (Unless maybe the stub is braised in place in this metal grip?)

I think you might be right: peshkabz tangs are as a rule shifted toward the spine of the blade. But the only component of the that might be inserted into is one of the square " diamonds". Even that is impossible: the " diamond" touches the base of the blade by its acute angle.

We are left with the possibility that the joint between the two parts of this dagger took the idea from N. Indian katars: some kind of braising ( but we do not see any trace of brass or silver ) or having a split outcropping of the handle, inserting the base of the blade into the created gap and forging them together. If that was the case, the connection is likely to be strong and practical.
But the handle itself is awfully awkward for a good grip. Again: not a comfortable weapon, but a beautiful one.

The chamfered edge of the blade was immensely popular on Afghani Ch'hurras and " khybers". NW India and Afghanistan are both likely possibilities.

Last edited by ariel; 24th May 2022 at 04:56 AM.
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Old 26th May 2022, 09:22 PM   #23
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Well I can confirm that it's not comfortable to hold in any way, shape, or form.
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Old 27th May 2022, 10:48 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
...
We are left with the possibility that the joint between the two parts of this dagger took the idea from N. Indian katars: some kind of braising (but we do not see any trace of brass or silver ) or having a split outcropping of the handle, inserting the base of the blade into the created gap and forging them together. ...

Another possibility is a 'shrink fit' where the tang is slightly larger than the grip opening, which is heated to enlarge the opening, tang quickly inserted, and the grip shrinks as it cools again, imprisoning the tang permanently.

p.s.- Many Indo-Persian arms have grips that are uncomfortable for 'modern' hands who will likely not hold them the same as the blade's contemporary user.

Last edited by kronckew; 27th May 2022 at 11:15 AM.
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