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Mughal Steel Dagger (Chilanum or Khanjarli)

North India
17th century

length (without scabbard): 37.2cm

Available - Enquire


private collection; acquired from Simon Ray, London.

This chilanum (also spelt chillanum) or khanjarli dagger is made of all steel. It has a multi-fullered, double-edged, re-curving blade that is swollen at the tip and with a central, single palmette motif chiselled between the fullers (Alexander, 1992, p. 190 identifies a similar motif on a katar as a cypress tree). The hilt is of waisted form and incorporates a solid spherical knop in the middle of the grip with trefoil palmettes on either side, and a bud-like finial at the end of the bifurcated pommel. The disc guard has serrated edging and ball quillons.

This dagger relates to a group of daggers associated with northern and Mughal India of the seventeenth century. The form is elegant but austere, the decorative restraint allowing for a greater sculptural aesthetic and visual impact. See Hales (2013, p. 70) for some related examples.

The dagger has a later scabbard of wood, covered with dark green velvet and with white metal mounts.


Alexander, D., The Arts of War: Arms and Armour of the 7th to 19th centuries – The Nasser. D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, The Nour Foundation, 1992.

Hales, R., Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.

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