A Safavid shamshir with rare Turkoman carnelian and gilt silver-mounted scabbard and baldric

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Lot 2078
A Safavid shamshir with rare Turkoman carnelian and gilt silver-mounted scabbard and baldric

Sold for US$ 7,605 inc. premium
A Safavid shamshir with rare Turkoman carnelian and gilt silver-mounted scabbard and baldric
1) Slender, curved 33 inch crucible steel blade, the damascus pattern showing considerable wear; one side retaining perhaps half of inlaid gold maker's mark. See note below for detailed analysis and translation of inscriptions kindly provided by Dr. Monouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani. Blade guard of traditional form, the front languet shortened. Wooden gripscales set with numerous blossom-form silver plates; silver wire ferrule, the pommel cap of gilt silver in the Turkoman manner. Silver scabbard of Turkoman manufacture, the front decorated with parcel gilt arabesques and repeating designs and set with two carnelian cabochons and with a red stone cabochon in the languet depression; below the lower suspension mount a calligraphic inscription, possibly in Orkhon. 2) The brown leather baldric, probably 19th century, faced with madder red wool cloth and set with nineteen gilt silver medallions of lobed form, each set with central carnelian cabochon and flanked by pairs of smaller silver medallions molded with similar lobed forms. Two-piece gilt silver buckle, each part set with three carnelians. Suspension straps set with numerous small rectangular silver panels, each molded with raised bosses and trefoils, the two straps depending from large, circular gilt silver plates, each with spirally fluted boss at the center.
Condition: 1) Blade has been cleaned and shows some light pitting. Hilt with some chipping to gripscales. 2) Minor wear and staining to cloth; suspension straps missing three silver panels.

See Illustration


  • Note:
    Analysis by Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani:
    Safavid Period. The blade has two gold-inlaid cartouches. The lower cartouche reads amal-e Assadollāh ﺍﺴﺪﺍﷲ ﻋﻣﻞ (the work of Assadollāh), Note that amal ﻋﻣﻞ (n) means "work" and Assadollāh ﺍﺴﺪﺍﷲ (n) means "the lion of God," This maker's mark appears on a number of high quality Persian swords. Other variants of this signature also exist as Amal-e Assad Esfahāni ﺍﺼﻔﻬﺎﻨﻰ ﺍﺴﺪ ﻋﻣﻞ (the work of Assad Esfahāni), and Assadollāh Esfahāni ﺍﺼﻓﻬﺎﻨﻰ ﺍﺴﺪﺍﷲ (Assadollāh Esfahāni) – for more information see Khorasani (2006:156-163). The present example is not dated but judging by the quality of handwriting and the application of gold on the blade, and its similarity to high quality Safavid blades kept in the Military Museum of Tehran, an attribution to the Safavid Period seems quite justified. Dated examples of blades with this mark exist as well but unfortunately, rather than solving the mystery behind the smith Assadollāh's life, only complicate the matter as the time span over which these swords are purported to have been constructed is too long for a normal human life, let alone the active life of a smith. Among the swords discussed in the book Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period, the earliest date is 992 Hegira (1583 C.E.), and the latest is 1135 Hegira (1722 C.E.), a time span of 139 years (Khorasani, 2006:156-163). Even the positioning of the individual words in this phrase varies from sword to sword. Taking all these factors into consideration, it seems unlikely or even fundamentally implausible that a single smith named Assadollāh produced all these blades. It seems feasible and probable that "Assadollāh" ﺍﺴﺪﺍﷲ was a title of honor signifying the highest level of mastery in swordmaking. For the maker's mark signed with the name Assadollāh and its variants on different swords see Khorasani (2006:430, cat.70, 432, cat. 73; 434, cat. 74; 435, cat. 75; 436, cat. 76; 441, cat. 79; 451, cat. 85; 448-449, cat.83; 451, cat.85; 453, cat.86; 456, cat.89; 461, cat.93; 471, cat.103; 481, cat.112; 503, cat.131; 518, cat.143; 526, cat.151; 529, cat.152; 536, cat.157; 547, cat.166).
    The blade pattern is surley pulād-e jŏhardār-e mošabak ﻤﺸﺑﮏ ﺟﻭﻫﺮﺪﺍﺭ ﭘﻮﻻﺩ (crucible damascus steel with net pattern or a type of crucible damascus steel with woodgrain pattern). For this pattern see Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran, 2010).
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