Dagger with Hilt of Leafy Plants, Hilt: Nephrite
Blade: Watered steel

Dagger with Hilt of Leafy Plants

Object Name:
ca. 1640
Attributed to India
Hilt: Nephrite
Blade: Watered steel
Max length with handle: 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm)
Length of the Handle: 4 13/16 in. (12.2 cm)
Length of the Blade: 9 11/16 in. (24.6 cm)
Width of bottom of the handle: 2 in. (5.1 cm)
Arms and Armor
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Spear Jr. Gift, 1982
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463
Often tucked into a sash or horseman’s boot, daggers in Mughal India displayed the wealth and power of their owners. The white jade hilt of this dagger is carved with flowers arranged in a formal pattern. A long serrated leaf runs the length of the hilt, following its curve; this curved shape, called a pistol grip, originated in the Deccan and first appeared in Mughal paintings during the reign of Shah Jahan, around the time in which this dagger was made.
[ Greater India Company, Inc., Cambridge, MA, until 1982; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "INDIA !," September 14, 1985, no. 177.

Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Romance of the Taj Mahal," December 17, 1989–March 11, 1990, no. 169.

Toledo, OH. Toledo Museum of Art. "Romance of the Taj Mahal," April 28, 1990–June 24, 1990, no. 169.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Romance of the Taj Mahal," August 23, 1990–November 25, 1990, no. 169.

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Art of Mughal India : Painting and Precious Objects. An Asia House Gallery publication. New York: Asia Society, 1963. related objects: fig. 5 (illustration of carved white jade wine cup).

Hambly, Gavin. Cities of Mughul India, Delhi Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. London, 1968. Related objects: fig. 89 (illustration of flowers on satin silk embroidered coat of first half of the 17th century in V&A, London. The flowers are similar to those on the sides of the dagger).

Welch, Stuart Cary. Imperial Mughal Painting. New York: George Braziller, 1978. Related objects: pl. 37 (illustration of Darbar of Alamgir, ca. 1658), pl. 38 (illustration of Alamgir Hunting Nilgai, ca. 1660) (both illustrations of early examples of this shape of dagger appearing in miniatures).

Galloway, Francesca, and Michael Spink. "To be Exhibited for Sale by Spink & Son Ltd., London, 24 April - 10 May 1980." In Islamic Art from India. London: Spink & Sons Ltd., 1980. Related objects: nos. 15, 16, 36 and 37 (illustrations of pistol grip and dagger handles) nos. 17-20, 27 and 41 (illustrations of 18th c. carved jade dagger handles).

Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 40 (1982–1983). pp. 12-13, ill. (color), (detail in b/w).

Skelton, Robert. The Indian Heritage, Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982. no. 66, p. 44, Related objects: fig 419 (prototype for dagger), color plate 12b, 356 and 357 (two white jade cups), 350-370 (jade decorative arts), 406, 407, 411-415 (jade dagger handles), 418 (pistol-shaped handle of enamelled gold), 419 (Deccani prototype).

Welch, Stuart Cary. "Art and Culture 1300–1900." In India!. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1985. no. 177, pp. 270-271, ill. p. 270 (b/w).

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. p. 150, ill. fig. 115 (color).

Pal, Pratapaditya. Romance of the Taj Mahal. London; Los Angeles: Thames and Hudson, 1989–1991. no. 169, pp. 155, 158, ill. fig. 169 (b/w).

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. no. 84, pp. 214-215, ill. (color).