On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 459

The green-stained ivory grip is carved with a delicacy that recalls many ivory objects made for the Ottoman court. The blade is inscribed in Turkish and Persian, the languages used at the Ottoman court: I besought a drink of water from your trenchant dagger, what if but once you should let me drink, what would you lose? If I thirst, his dagger is not laid down.

This dagger, assembled during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid I (r. 1774–89), incorporates a superb sixteenth-century grip and blade and an eighteenth-century guard. The carved grip matches Ottoman ivories dating to the period of Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66); its green color, beloved in Islamic thought, alludes to God and to life itself and elicits the idea of tranquility and refuge. The gold inscriptions on the blade, in Turkish and Persian, reproduce verses by the Turkish poet Necati (d. 1509) and refer to the waters of Paradise.

Dagger, Steel, ivory, gold, silver, Turkish

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