Persian Watered Steel Dagger, A Magnificent Wootz Steel Blade With Carved Walrus Ivory Handle Dagger, Signed By (عمل كمترين محمد علي) The Work Of The Master Mohamed Ali, Persia, Dated ربيع الاول سنه ( ١٢٥٤) 1245 AH. = 1838 AD.

Identification Number: 316


The present lot consists of an elegant double-edged tapering steel blade of curved form with raised central spine. The blade has a very fine wootz watered steel pattern. The fine steel dagger is attached to a thick carved and engraved ivory handle. This waisted walrus ivory hilt is incised in relief to each side with figural scenes of couples, while the shafts are decorated with inscription-filled cartouches. On one side, we can find a typical Qajar-fashioned couple in intimate pose against a floral background. The reverse of the hilt, on the other hand, appears to show a frangi (“Western”) couple, in Dutch or French attire, and an infant at their feet. Christian iconography does sometimes appear on these hilts, and couples of this style are typical in the carving work of Mohammed Ali. The ends of the hilt contain cartouches, on both sides, carved with fine Nasta’liq script. The inscriptions indicate the piece was made in 1245 AH (1838 AD).
The fine dagger, known in the Arab worlds as Jambiya and used in Safavid, Zand and Qajar Iran as symbols of power, preserves its original leather-encased scabbard, which is in very good condition and with minor repairs.
The front side of the wooden scabbard has an impressive carved Islamic design at the front, covered with fine leather work, the carved wood underneath has arabesque such as palmette and scrollwork motifs, the tip of the scabbard is made out of ivory and ends in a bud-like finial.


Very Good, minor rubbing to walrus-ivory, minor repair to leather of scabbard.


Overall length 32 CM.
Length of hilt and blade 31.5 CM.
Width of blade at the hilt 4 CM.
Hilt Length 12.5 CM.


David Alexander, Islamic Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2015.
Robert Hales, Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hales, 2013.
For similar examples see:
Bonhams London, Lot 104, A Qajar walrus ivory-hilted Dagger, Islamic And Indian Art, 21 Apr 2015
Harvard Art Museums, Qajar Dagger,object number 1958.131.A-B
Sotheby’s London, Lot 565, A large Qajar dagger with carved ivory hilt, Persia, 19th century, Arts of The Islamic World, 25 APRIL 2012
For a similar dagger made also by Muhammad Ali:
Christie’s London, Lot 109, A Qajar Carved Walrus-Ivory Hilted Dagger (Jambiyya), Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds 23 April 2015
The Metropolitan Museum of New York, Dagger (Jambiya), Accession number 96.5.138