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Lot 184: An important and beautiful shamshir
March 29, 2014
Sarzana (SP), ItalyLive Auction
An important and beautiful shamshir
dating: second quarter of the 18th Century
provenance: India Moghul
Curved, single -and false-edged blade with central fuller (most likely produced in Malacca or Batavia), at the forte a mark depicting three circles. Massive, dark jade grip shaped in the typical Moghul style and enriched with silver inlays deicting floral motifs; silver quillon decorated with two shells, curls and geometrical engravings, provided with stamps (an armillary sphere, symbol of the silver master, in Goa) and a snake-shaped stamp as the silver quality mark. Wooden scabbard with burgundy velvet cover, silver mounts with two rings, decorated and stamped en suite with the quilon.The Kingdom of Goa, in western India, was conquered by Portuguese in 1519, remaining a colony of the European country for four-hundred-and-fifty years, until 1961. Portuguese found manufactures of arms and art of great quality, setting up an intense commercial and cultural trade, not only of art objects then, but of craftsmen too.
The results of this peculiar union of different styles and cultures produced pieces demanded in many Kunstkammer of European courts during the 16th and 17th Century.
Goa silver craftsmen became so famous that their Portuguese colleagues had to move to Goa in order to learn the job and try to mix decorations of Eastern style with European one.
The sword presented above features six times the symbol of a scallop (or Shell of Saint James), symbol of the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela and symbol of King John V of Portugal reigning in Portugal from 1707 to 1750; the sabre is attributable to that period.
The silver elements feature the stamp of the artist (an armillary sphere, featured on Portugues coins in Goa too) and the quality mark (snake). If we consider the peculiarity of this weapon, and the choice of the provenance of the blade, it is clear that it was commissioned for a special order. We are likely to think that the client was an important member of the Portuguese government as the Vice King of India who commissioned the sword to donate it to a Raja, or a Maraja, or an important figure, European as well.
dimensions: length 74.5 cm.