Persian Qajar Revival Sword
The Qajar (or Kadjar) Dynasty was extant from the late 1700s until the early 1900s. After it unified a divided and war-torn Persia its rulers, or shahs, sought to make clear social and cultural connections to the ancient founders of their culture—such as the Achaemenids and Sasanians. This endeavour was accomplished through art, literature and architecture and swords, still important personal items, were not to be left out with many high status forms being modelled on their earlier counterparts. The sabre presented here, from the 1800s, is one such weapon.
The iron hilt shows traces of silver wire inlaid to show lines and swirls and it holds a sweeping blade tightly. This blade is light and flexible—yet sturdy—and almost every part of it has been expertly etched with acid to show courtly portraits and Arabic calligraphy set within panels. On both sides, a meandering snake winds its way down the blade from the tip, flanked by a yelmen. Such comprehensive decorations are typical of Qajar Revival swords. The brown scabbard is a modern replacement.
The purpose of these swords is debated, with everything from Islamic rituals to personal protection being offered up. Whatever its true use, this is an aesthetically pleasing piece and it combines form with function.