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Rare Carved Ivory Mughal or Deccani Hilt
Northern India
17th century

height: 12.2cm

This rare and extremely finely carved ivory dagger hilt was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 1982. It is in the form of a lion's head is from either northern
Mughal India or the Deccan. The head has an open mouth with bared teeth, engraved whiskers and carved eyes, and a fine collar of bells suspended from
fine ropework about the neck. The quillons and sides are carved deeply with Mughal-esque interlocking flowers and foliage which incorporate
Ottoman-influenced stylised tulips in the manner of earlier Mughal carving.

The detail is superb. The floral work on the sides is among the best such earlier Mughal/Deccan ivory carving work we have seen. The detail to the mouth is
also excellent: the incisor teeth are perfectly curved and the tongue is realistically curved and ridged. There are even two small holes drilled in the back of the
mouth to denote the trachea and oesophagus.

The top edges of the ears have some fritting - perhaps not an unreasonable loss for an ivory hilt of this age and rarity - but otherwise there are no losses or
repairs. The ivory itself has a superb warm and honeyed patina. The hilt was never attached to a blade; its base remains undrilled.

The hilt comes with a custom-made perspex stand.

Illustrated:
This actual piece is illustrated in Hales (2013, p. 58); and in Poster (1982, cat. no. 32). It is also illustrated as Lot 572 in Sotheby's London, 'Arts of the Islamic
World', April 25, 2012 (estimate: £25,000-£30,000).

Exhibited:
Brooklyn Museum, 'Indian and Southeast Asian Ivories: selections from local collections', 1982.

References:
Hales, R., Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime's Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.
Poster, A.,  
Indian and Southeast Asian Ivories: Selections from Local Collections, Brooklyn Museum, 1982.

Provenance:  formerly, Robert Hales Collection; acquired  from Christie's New York in 2007.

Inventory no.: 3018 SOLD

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