Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Dagger with Zoomorphic Hilt

Object Name:
second half 16th century
Attributed to India, Deccan, Bijapur or Golconda
Hilt: copper; cast, chased, gilded, and inlaid with rubies. Blade: steel; forged
L. 15 5/8 in. (39.6 cm)
Arms and Armor
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2011
Accession Number:
Not on view
Portraits of Sultan 'Ali 'Adil Shah of Bijapur (r. 1558–80) show him wearing daggers with zoomorphic hilts which combine Persian and Indian symbols of power. In this superlative, ruby-studded example, a dragon, whose tail wraps around the grip, attacks a lion, which in turn attacks a deer. Before the deer is a parrot-like bird with a snake in its beak, symbolism associated with the deity Garuda. Lower down on the hilt is the head of a yali, a mythical lion-like animal, with floral scrolls issuing from its mouth.
[ Howard Ricketts, London, until 1974; sold to Welch]; Stuart Cary Welch, Cambridge, MA (1974–d. 2008; his estate 2008–11); his estate sale, Sotheby's, London, April 6, 2011, no. 103, to MMA
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy," April 20, 2015–July 26, 2015, no. 63.

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. p. 17.

"6 April 2011." In The Stuart Cary Welch Collection, Part One: Arts of the Islamic World. London: Sotheby's, London, 2011. no. 103, pp. 130-133, ill. (color).

Canby, Sheila R. "The Islamic Galleries at The Met." Arts of Asia, Arts of Asia, vol. 42 (September/October 2012). p. 89, ill. fig. 13 (color).

Alexander, David G., and Stuart W. Pyhrr. "in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." In Islamic Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. p. 15, ill. fig. 16 (color).

Haidar, Navina, and Marika Sardar. "Opulence and Fantasy." In Sultans of Deccan India 1500–1700. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. no. 63, pp. 145-146, ill. pl. 63 (color).

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