918

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Ottoman Silver Khanjar with Watered Steel Blade


18th century

length: 55cm, weight: 622g

Available - Ask about this item

Provenance

UK art market

This khanjar (or kanjar) comprises a curved double-edged watered steel blade with a medial ridge, and a hilt and sheaf entirely sheathed in silver. (Khanjar in Arabic means simply a ‘knife’ or ‘dagger’.) The pommel and the guard of the hilt are engraved with ribbon, bow and quiver designs commonly seen on other examples of Ottoman silver such as vases and drinking vessels and these motifs are whimsically interspersed with forest strawberries. This is matched with a similar band of design at the top pf the scabbard, which is otherwise plain. The end of the hilt is decorated with a sun burst, stars and crescents design.

The scabbard is stamped with a clear Ottoman tughra and the top of the hilt has an associated etched ‘zig-zag’ assay mark.

The upper section of the blade is overlaid with Arabic inscriptions in gold on both sides (there are no losses to the gold overlay.) The inscription is short and appears to be Koranic: the Arabic word for ‘Allah’ is evident.

A closely related khanjar is in the collection of the Tarskoye Selo Palace near St Petersurg. The St Petersburg example, also entirely sheathed in silver, has an almost identical Arabic inscription on the blade. The etched design on the top of the handle is almost identical, suggesting that the Palace knife and this knife came from the same workshop. The Tarskoye Selo knife is attributed to the eighteenth century, allowing a similar dating for this knife.

Elgood (2009, p. 253) illustrates another similar khanjaralso entirely sheathed in silver and with a gold inscribed blade. Presumably a captured weapon, it had been in the possession of the Greek fighter Georgakes Olympios (1772-1821) who led resistance against the Ottomans in the Balkans.

Overall, this is a fine and important khanjar, and part of a small illustrious grouping of other similar khanjars that appear to share a common maker.

References

Arsenal of Tsarskoye Selo: One Hundred Subjects from the Collection of the Russian Emperors, St Petersburg Publishing House Baltica, 2000.

Elgood, R., The Arms of Greece: And her Balkan Neighbours in the Ottoman Period, Thames & Hudson, 2009.

Skott, O., ‘H. Bronse Hansens Vabensamling’ in Vaaben-Historiske Aarborger, XXXV 1989.

Stone, G.C., A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and use of Arms and Armour in all Countries and in all Times: Together with some Closely Related Subjects, Southworth Press, 1961.

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