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Shah Jahan's dagger to be auctioned at Bonhams

April 08, 2008 19:25 IST

A gold-encrusted dagger belonging to Mughal emperor Shah Jahan is expected to fetch 500,000 pounds when auctioned at Bonhams on Thursday.

The dagger is part of the collection of Islamic and Indian art and artefacts of the late textile businessman Jacques Desenfans.

Desenfans, driven by his passion for Islamic, Indian and South East Asian history and culture, spent over 50 years amassing one of the most important collections, which includes arms and armour, early pottery and works of art.

Bonhams, the international fine art auction house, will sell this fascinating collection on Thursday, including Shah Jahan's dagger. Bonhams described the dagger, dated 1629-30, as an 'elegant and understated personal dagger'.

The inscriptions in nasta'liq script on the blade include Shah Jahan's official titles, date and place of birth, and the honourific parasol (an ancient pan-Asian symbol of divinity of royalty), all state that it was the personal dagger of Shah Jahan.

In an article titled Dagger For The Heart, written for Bonhams Magazine, writer William Dalrymple says: "The Emperor's love of beautiful and precious objects  damascened and gold-embellished blades, enamels and hammered metals, precious lapidary, inlaid hardstones and inscribed gems  was something many visitors commented on."

"According to Edward Terry, the chaplain to the British ambassador, Shah Jahan was the greatest and richest master of precious stones that inhabits the whole earth."

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