Description & Technical information

This sword features a striking blue hilt and matching chape, decorated with stylised floral motifs. The iron hilt is covered with blue champlevé enamel and gold, set with semi-precious stones in the kundan technique. The pommel disk is topped with a rosette-shaped boss embellished with clear and rose-coloured stones, and the underside bears six evenly spaced flowers. Symmetrical flowers rendered in gold and clear stones cover all sides of the grip and quillons, and this pattern continues on the chape. The rest of the scabbard is covered in red velvet.   
The blade is engraved on either side where it joins the hilt, with broad lines surrounding the languet terminating in a trefoil. Below, on one side, there are inscriptions reading:
“O Opener!”
“There is no hero save ‘Ali, no sword save Dhu’l-Fiqar.”
Enamelling became a popular decorative technique in India following the arrival of European jewellers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The art was developed especially in Mughal royal workshops but also became widespread throughout the Indian Subcontinent.[1] For further examples of swords with enamelling, see the Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, Accession Number LNS 2154 J ab, illustrated in Kaoukji, cat. no. 112, pp. 318-21, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Accession Number 36.25.1519a, b, illustrated in Alexander, no. 70, pp. 184-6.

[1] Keene, p. 62

Date:  18th century
Period:  1750-1850, 18th century
Origin:  India
Medium: Iron, gold, Semi-Precious Stones, Blue champlevé enamel
Dimensions: 90 cm (35³/₈ inches)
Provenance: Private USA Collection

Literature: Alexander, D. G. Islamic Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2015.
Kaoukji, S. Precious Indian Weapons and Other Princely Accoutrements, Thames & Hudson, London, 2017.
Keene, M. Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals, The Al-Sabah Collection, Thames and Hudson, London, 2001.

Categories: Arms & armour, Oriental and Asian Art