Dagger and sheath

Historical period(s)
Zand period, Reign of Karim Khan, ca. 1790
Watered steel, iron, gold inlay, silver
H: 37.2 cm (14 5/8 in)
Iran, Shiraz
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Weapon and Armament


filigree, Iran, Japan, naskh script, Zand period (1750 - 1794)
Provenance research underway.

This dagger, with its intricate lines and floral motifs, was made during the reign of Karim Khan (1750-79) the first ruler of the short-lived Zand dynasty (1750-95) as is one of the few objects to survive from this period.  Its Persian inscription, written in an elegant nastaliq, reads:

In the time of the reign of the Zand emperor
The just king, ruler, heir to Dara,
Khan of the world, favorite of Ali,
Master of the time, lord of the sea and land.
Glory of the craftsmen, helper of the lowest [impoverished]
Oh Taqi (?), that chief of artists
Made in Shiraz a beautiful dagger
As a crescent with pearls dropping from its blade.
He said its date: beginning of wisdon and lofty praise.
For the sun, the crescent [is] as a belt of pearls.

Published References
  • James Waterson. The Ismaili Assassins: A History of Medieval Murder. London. front cover.
  • Dr. Esin Atil, W. Thomas Chase, Paul Jett. Islamic Metalwork in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1985. cat. 35, pp. 214-219.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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