Bichaq Dagger with Inscribed Niello Silver Mounts set with 17th century Gold Acehnese Gold Dirham Coin
probably Bukhara, Central Asia
dated 1310 AH (1892 AD)
length: 30.5cm, weight: 193g
This fine bichaq dagger or knife has a curved blade of wootz steel that is riveted at the basal mount. The hilt is inset with bone plaques and encased in niello silver with a beaked pommel that is surmounted by a silver ring through which a tassel could be threaded. The silver is decorated with running arabesques and scrolling foliage in niello. The inner side of the grip is dated and inscribed in nasta’liq script (again, in niello) with the owner’s name ‘Muhammed al-Nur’.
The scabbard is original and of wood, encased in black leather and with silver mounts, decorated on the front side in niello with scrolling foliage and flowers. The chape has a gilded silver bud-like finial. The locket is centred with an applied gold dirham coin from Aceh, the influential sultanate on the northern tip of Sumatra in what is now Indonesia. The gold coin dates to the rule of Sultan Inayat Zakiatuddin Syah (r. 1678-1688). Its presence on this
bichaq illustrates the trade and migration routes within the Islamic world, which saw central Asia, the Middle East and northern India linked for hundreds of years with Islamic communities in Southeast Asia.
Sultan Inayat Zakiatuddin Syah was the sixteenth ruler of Aceh and the third sultanah (queen) to rule Aceh in succession. Her reign coincided with closer links to the rest of the world. In 1683 she was visited by an embassy from the sharif of Mecca. English envoys from Madras reached Aceh the following year and asked permission to establish a trading post (the request was declined). It was also a popular trading port with Indian and Persian traders.
bichaq is in very fine condition with only very minor pitting to the blade.
Leigh, B., Hands of Time: The Crafts of Aceh, Penerbit Djambatan, 1989.
A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in all Countries and in all Times, first published in 1934, Jack Brussel, 1961.Provenance:
UK art marketIllustrated
page 42, Pinchot, O., Arms of the Paladins: The Richard R. Wagner Jr Collection of Fine Eastern Weapons, Rhode Island, 2014.
Inventory no.: 3150