A fine gold-damascened watered steel sword (shamshir) bearing the name of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar (reg. 1798-1834) Persia, dated AH 1217/ AD 1802-3

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Lot 64R
A fine gold-damascened watered steel sword (shamshir) bearing the name of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar (reg. 1798-1834)
Persia, dated AH 1217/ AD 1802-3

Sold for £ 31,312 (US$ 39,119) inc. premium
A fine gold-damascened watered steel sword (shamshir) bearing the name of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar (reg. 1798-1834)
Persia, dated AH 1217/ AD 1802-3
the single edged finely watered wootz steel blade in the so-called Jacob's ladder pattern, decorated in gold inlay to one side with two inscription-filled lobed cartouches and four further inscription-filled cartouches, the silver hilt engraved and inlaid with amethyst, garnet, aquamarine and peridot forming floral motifs, the leather-clad scabbard with silver and gem-set mounts en suite, two suspension loops to one side
93.5 cm. long

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Duke Camille Philippe Joseph Idesbald de Rohan (1800–1892), acquired during his travels to the Middle East in 1828-1832.
    Karel Javurek (1815-1909), presented as a gift by Camille de Rohan and thence by descent.
    Private collection, Czech Republic.

    Inscriptions: 'The father of the sword Sultan Fath Ali Shah Qajar, 1217' (1802-03); 'The servant of the King of Trusteeship (i.e Imam 'Ali) Isma'il bin Haydar 88'; 'The servant of the King of Trusteeship, 'Abbas'; 'The servant of the King of Trusteeship, Safi'; There is no youth [as brave as] 'Ali; There is no sword [as sharp as] dhu'l-faqar.

    Camille de Rohan was a French nobleman of the House of Rohan who became Duke of Montbazon in in 1846. Renowned as a patron of the arts and an amateur botanist, he settled in Bohemia where he inherited the estate of Svijany, transforming the grounds of Sychrov Castle into English style gardens. He earned a number of honours during his life there including the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1861, and the Austrian Order of Leopold. As an artistic patron, Camille de Rohan employed the services of academic painter Karel Javurek (1815-1909) who is considered to be one of the founders of Czech historical painting. Javurek began collecting arms and armour to use as models for his paintings and the present lot was given to him by Camille de Rohan whilst working at Sychrov Castle, where a number of his grand works relating to the history of the House of Rohan are still exhibited.

    The fine quality of the blade suggests that this sword was either made for the armoury of Fath 'Ali Shah or to be presented by him to a high ranking dignitary. Although it is unknown if Camille de Rohan was received at the Qajar court, his travels would have taken him to Persia towards the end of Fath 'Ali Shah's reign and it is therefore possible that it was received as a royal gift. The finely watered steel blade exhibits the sought after Kirk Narduban or Jacob's ladder pattern characterised by transversely oriented distortions of the pattern called 'steps'. Carrying such a sword would be of particular significance to a Muslim warrior who would see the ladder as a symbolic vehicle for entry into paradise should he fall in battle. For a further discussion on the pattern see Leo S. Figiel, On Damascus Steel, Atlantis, 1991, pp. 70-71. A sword bearing the name of Fath 'Ali Shah was sold at Sotheby's Arts of the Islamic World, 14 April 2010, lot 236. For another in the Military Museum of Tehran see Manouchehr M Khorasani, Arms and Armour from Iran, Tubingen, 2006, pp. 526-7.
Contacts
A fine gold-damascened watered steel sword (shamshir) bearing the name of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar (reg. 1798-1834) Persia, dated AH 1217/ AD 1802-3
A fine gold-damascened watered steel sword (shamshir) bearing the name of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar (reg. 1798-1834) Persia, dated AH 1217/ AD 1802-3
A fine gold-damascened watered steel sword (shamshir) bearing the name of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar (reg. 1798-1834) Persia, dated AH 1217/ AD 1802-3
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