Chased Brass Dervish’s Crutch Dagger & Sheaf (Zafar Takieh)
length: 56cm, length of blade: 41.5cm, width: 21.3cm, weight: 782g
This crutch dagger has a long scabbard or stem with a decorative, double lobed finial. The handle is of concave form and terminates in finely rendered parrot heads. The handle and scabbard are chased all over with floral and leaf scrollwork. The patterns are suggestive of northern Indian origins, possibly the Islamic region of Kutch.
The crutch conceals a long, thin, double-edged dagger.
Such items served as concealed weapons. When sheafed, the item served as a crutch for one’s arm when one was seated, but otherwise, the crutch conceals a long, lethal stabbing blade. Indian crutch daggers were designed to be leaned upon whilst reclining or squatting and were especially favoured by princes and holy men. Indian miniature paintings sometimes show them being used such as the 19th century example
in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, in which the figure in the foreground clearly is using such an item.
Hales (2013, p. 312) illustrates two crutch daggers attributed to 17th century central India. Both had or have a screwing mechanism by which the dagger is screwed into a thin, cylindrical scabbard.
The example here is in fine condition. The surface of the handle and sheaf have a smoothness from use and wear.
Hales, R., Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 3681