Saber with Scabbard

Date: grip, 18th or 19th century; guard and scabbard, 19th century; blade, A.H. 1099/A.D. 1688; decoration on blade, 19th century

Culture: grip, Indian; guard, scabbard, blade deco, Turkish; blade, Iran

Medium: Steel, gold, copper alloy (brass), jade (nephrite), diamond, emerald, pearl

Dimensions: Saber: L. 39 3/4 in. (100.97 cm); L. of blade 33 in. (83.7 cm); Wt. 2 lb. 8 oz. (1,129 g); Scabbard: L. 34 5/8 in. (88 cm); Wt. 2 lb. 4 oz. (1,023 g)

Classification: Swords

Credit Line: Gift of Giulia P. Morosini, in memory of her father, Giovanni P. Morosini, 1923

Accession Number: 23.232.2a, b


In contrast to the European custom of coronation, the most important ceremony in the inauguration of most Islamic rulers was the investiture with a sword. This extravagantly decorated saber is traditionally said to have been made in 1876 for the investiture of the Ottoman sultan Murad V (r. May 30–August 31, 1876). He suffered a nervous breakdown before the ceremony and was subsequently deposed and kept a prisoner until his death in 1904.

The sword appears to have been fashioned by a court jeweler using a seventeenth-century Iranian blade, an eighteenth-century Indian jade grip, and gem-studded gold mounts of contemporary workmanship. Although of late manufacture, this sword symbolizes the wealth and love of ostentatious display that had been associated with the Ottoman court since the sixteenth century.