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 similar to this one. In this superlative, ruby-studded hilt, a dragon, whose tail wraps around the grip, attacks a lion, which in turn attacks a deer, symbolism associated with the deity Garuda. Before the deer is a parrotlike bird with a snake in its beak. Lower down on the hilt is the head of a yali, a mythical lionlike 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).

Related Objects

Dagger with Hilt in the Form of a Blue Bull (Nilgai)

Date: ca. 1640 Medium: Hilt: Nephrite Blade: Watered steel Accession: 1985.58a, b On view in:Gallery 463

Dagger with Hilt of Leafy Plants

Date: ca. 1640 Medium: Hilt: Nephrite Blade: Watered steel Accession: 1982.321 On view in:Gallery 463

The House of Bijapur

Artist: Painting by Kamal Muhammad (active 1680s) Date: ca. 1680 Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper Accession: 1982.213 On view in:Gallery 463

Jeweled and Enameled Ram's Head Dagger

Date: 18th–19th century Medium: Hilt: Gold, enameled and set with precious stones; kundan technique Blade: steel Accession: 1970.180 On view in:Gallery 463

Writing Box with Lattice and Flower Design

Date: mid-17th century Medium: Wood; overlaid with dyed wool, stamped silver and gilt-copper plaques Accession: 1998.434 On view in:Gallery 450