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HOME : Islamic Art : Archive : Mughal Steel Dagger
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Mughal Steel Dagger - AM.0455
Origin: India
Circa: 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 13.08" (33.2cm) high x 1.77" (4.5cm) wide
Collection: Islamic Art
Medium: Steel

Additional Information: SOLD
Location: Great Britain
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The Mughal Dynasty was founded by Zahiru al- Din Babur upon three successive victorious battles that allowed him to secure control of northern India. A Muslim minority in a Hindu land, the Mughal would rule India from 1526- 1858. After Babur, each ruler managed to extend Mughal dominance over the natives until the entire subcontinent was under their authority, from the foothills of the Himalayas all the way to the southern tip of Cape Comorin. However, soon after, Emperor Aurangzeb abandoned the religious tolerance that characterized the rule of his ancestors and attempted to convert the whole of India to Islam. This deliberate change in policy naturally ignited numerous rebellions. As the revolts spread across the land, including groups that had been loyal to the Mughals for many generations, the arrival of the Europeans added further complications. The ambitions of the European powers extended beyond mere trade, and their superior military power and organization completely stripped the Mughal of any naval power. The Mughal Dynasty continued onward, becoming successively weaker and weaker with each ruler until the British finally overcame both the Mughals and the native Hindus by exploiting their animosity towards each other, ending a three hundred year period of Muslim rule in the subcontinent. Artistically, the Mughal style blended the native Persian patterns imported by the Mughals with the indigenous genius for intricate craftsmanship that characterizes the subcontinent. Noted equally for their distinctive architecture as well as their beautiful jewelry, the crowning achievement of this style is the Taj Mahal, the world famous monument built in the Mughal capital of Agra.

This elegantly detailed dagger exemplifies that sophisticated metalworking techniques that thrived under Mughal patronage. While the sharpened blade features foliate patterns engraved on the steel, the hilt has been inlaid with gold that highlights the similar decorative motifs. Ostensibly a weapon, the inherent value of the gold and the luxurious workmanship of the piece suggests that this dagger may have in fact been more for display than for war. Surely a noble carrying such a gorgeous piece would have commanded the respect and admiration of his peers. - (AM.0455)


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