A FINE SAFAVID WATERED-STEEL DAGGER (KARD) WITH WALRUS IVORY HILT DEDICATED TO SHAH SULEYMAN (R.1666-94), PERSIA, 17TH CENTURY
A FINE SAFAVID WATERED-STEEL DAGGER (KARD) WITH WALRUS IVORY HILT DEDICATED TO SHAH SULEYMAN (R.1666-94), PERSIA, 17TH CENTURY
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A SAFAVID ROYAL DAGGER DEDICATED TO SHAH SULEYMAN

A FINE SAFAVID WATERED-STEEL DAGGER (KARD) WITH WALRUS IVORY HILT DEDICATED TO SHAH SULEYMAN (R.1666-94), PERSIA, 17TH CENTURY

Estimate: 40,000 - 60,000 GBP

A SAFAVID ROYAL DAGGER DEDICATED TO SHAH SULEYMAN

A FINE SAFAVID WATERED-STEEL DAGGER (KARD) WITH WALRUS IVORY HILT DEDICATED TO SHAH SULEYMAN (R.1666-94), PERSIA, 17TH CENTURY

Estimate: 40,000 - 60,000 GBP

Lot Details

Description

A Safavid Royal Dagger Dedicated to Shah Suleyman


A FINE SAFAVID WATERED-STEEL DAGGER (KARD) WITH WALRUS IVORY HILT DEDICATED TO SHAH SULEYMAN (R.1666-94), PERSIA, 17TH CENTURY


the straight watered-steel blade chiselled around the forte on both sides with lobed cartouches of scrolling foliage and split palmettes, with gold-damascened inscriptions, the spine with arabesque and finely chiselled cartouches, some containing inscriptions on a gold ground, reinforced armour piercing point, the ivory grips with metal khatamkari inscriptions, the leather scabbard with silver chape


(2)


40cm.

Condition Report

The blade with very minor patches of oxidisation, the hilt with crackeleure, otherwise in good condition, very minor rubbing to gilding, as viewed.


"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

Saleroom Notice

This lot contains endangered species. Sotheby's recommends that buyers check with their own government regarding any importation requirements prior to placing a bid. For example, US regulations restrict or prohibit the import of certain items to protect wildlife conservation. Please note that Sotheby's will not assist buyers with the shipment of this lot to the US. A buyer's inability to export or import these lots cannot justify a delay in payment or sale cancellation.

Cataloguing

Catalogue Note

inscriptions

On the hilt: 'In the name of the Sultan of the World, Shah Suleyman Safavi'

On the blade: Qur’an surah hud (XI), parts of 88; surah al-‘Imran (III), parts of 126; surah al-saff (LXI), parts of 13 and invocations to God.


Shah Suleyman Safavi (r. 1666-94) was the son of Shah ‘Abbas II. After he assumed the throne at an inauspicious time he received a second coronation whereupon he claimed the title Suleyman III. The event was recorded by the French polyglot and traveller John Chardin who had been appointed a royal merchant by Shah ‘Abbas II and was granted unrivalled access to the Safavid court for a foreigner (J. Chardin, Le Couronnement de Soleïmaan Troisiéme, Roy de Perse, Imperial Organization for Social Services, Reprint, 1976). Chardin also documented Shah Suleyman’s dramatic appearance with his blue eyes, pale skin, blonde hair and beard dyed black.

The earliest example of a kard of this type so far recorded is dated 1024 AH/1615-16 AD in the Tanavoli Collection (see Allan and Gilmour 2000, p.153, no.A10). Other related examples can be found in the Nasser D. Khalili Collection (Alexander 1992, no.83) and in a German private collection (Hamburg 1993, p.196, no.135). A similar dagger is in the Louvre, Paris (inv.no. R 901, Paris 2018 p.144). The present lot is particularly fine.


The present kard is a fine example of two key ancient Persian techniques used in the ornamentation of arms and armour: khatamkari and watered steel making. Khatamkari is a lengthy and laborious process entailing the cutting of the base materials - in this case wood, metal and ivory - shaping the segments into prisms, forming a design, assembling the components together, applying pressure and then adding astar (a thin layer of wood) and adhesive.

During the Safavid period, workshops that specialised in marquetry flourished in the southern cities of Iran such as Isfahan, Shiraz and Kerman. Isfahan is thus a possible place of production for this kard given that it was the capital of the Safavid Empire between 1598 and 1736. The term watered or 'Damascus' steel can be used to describe a blade where the surface of the steel resembles water ripples and requires crystallisation in a crucible. Artifacts displaying the beauty of high-quality watered steel such as this are highly coveted because the technique was lost to metal-smiths across the region in the eighteenth century (Burton 1884, p.111). The process is described at length by the famous ninth century philosopher Ya‘qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi’s in his treatise ‘On swords and their kinds’ (Hoyland and Gilmour, pp.59, 69, 105 and 146). Watered steel blades were not simply visually compelling but it enhanced the martial potential of the weapon by combining hardness with elasticity and could be sharpened to a very fine, tough edge (Coe 1989, p.144).

Arts of the Islamic World
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