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19th C. Mughal Damascus Steel Dagger w/ Lapis Handle

Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Northern India, Mughal Empire, ca. 19th century CE. A beautiful Mughal dagger with an ornate handle and a sturdy sheath. The blade is composed of Damascene steel - a composite metal formed by hammer-welding steel and iron strips together and then repeatedly forging until it exhibits a wavy surface - and has a somewhat serpentine presentation. The blade tang is inserted into a narrow opening beneath the handle. The handle is hand-carved from lapis lazuli and depicts a curved ibex head with a nicely-contoured face, segmented horns resting upon its neck, and incised circular eyes inlaid with glinting copper. The wooden sheath is wrapped in sturdy leather that is dyed a deep crimson hue. Size: 14.125" L x 1.75" W (35.9 cm x 4.4 cm); length of blade: 9.6" L (24.4 cm).

Condition: Handle repaired from a couple of large pieces with light adhesive residue along break lines. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, small nicks to tip of sheath and handle, with some loosening of blade within handle, and minor loss to part of copper eye inlay. Light earthen deposits along sheath. Minor pitting and areas of oxidation to blade.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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