Mughal Silver Lion-Headed Peshkabz Dagger
length: 43.5cm, weight: 463g
This unusual peshkabz dagger is from northern India. The scabbard and hilt have solid silver mounts.
It is unusual for its lion-head hilt and for the fact that the head of the lion is in effect a lid, kept in place by a silver pin. When the head is removed, a silver cap is revealed and when this is removed an interior chamber is revealed in turn. The chamber is not very deep and most probably would have been used to store snuff, chewing tobacco or even
The lion is particularly well made. Its moth is open slightly to reveal many small teeth and a great tongue, all in silver. The eyes of the lion are inset with ruby cabochons in gold box settings. The head is further decorated with gilded floral roundels.
The blade is single edged and of steel.
The scabbard is clothed in red cotton fabric and silver mounts that are decorated on all sides with applied
fleur-de-lis motifs in high relief. The chape ends with a curved bud finial.
The form of the
peshkabz dagger originates in Persia/Iran. There have been close political and commercial ties between Persia and northern India and so the form spread southwards to northern India. Such daggers ahve a ‘T’ shape section that widens quite quickly near to the base of the hilt. Thereafter, the blade grows thinner until it reaches a thin, pointed tip.
The example here is in fine condition. There are some minor losses to the edging around one of the silver mounts to one side of the scabbard, and some old age-related staining to the fabric used to cover the scabbard, but otherwise, there are no other losses or repairs.
Caravana, J. et al, Rites of Power: Oriental Weapons: Collection of Jorge Caravana, Caleidoscopio, 2010.
Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 4550