Object Name: Dagger Date: second half 16th century Geography: India, Deccan, Bijapur or Golconda Culture: Islamic Medium: Hilt: copper; cast, chased, gilded, and inlaid with rubies. Blade: steel; forged Dimensions: L. 15 5/8 in. (39.6 cm) Classification: Arms and Armor Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2011 Accession Number: 2011.236 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]; Stuart Cary Welch, Cambridge, MA (1974–d. 2008; his heirs 2008–11); his sale, Sotheby's, London, April 6, 2011, lot 103, to MMA