© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Signed by Muhammad Hadi, Persian
Dagger with Sheath
Weapons and Ammunition
Work Type
c. 1800
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Kirman
Qajar period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
dagger: watered steel with gold inlay and ivory hilt; wooden scabbard covered in leather
35 x 5.2 cm (13 3/4 x 2 1/16 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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The blade of this dagger, which has a very fine watered steel pattern, was made in 1800-01, around 30 years before the hilt. The inscription on the hilt says that it was made in Kirman to the order of Hassan Khan, known as Agha Khan-i Beglarbegi. One side has his portrait, while the other side has a portrait of the Qajar ruler Muhammad Shah (ruled 1834-48), wearing a dagger very similar to this one tucked into his belt.

Hassan Khan was named as Agha Khan, the leader of the Nizari Ismaili sect of Shi'ite Islam, by Muhammad Shah's predecessor and grandfather, Fath Ali Shah. In 1838, he led a revolt against Muhammad Shah in Kirman, and was eventually defeated and exiled to India. So the hilt of this dagger, which the Agha Khan had commissioned specifically to show his close relationship with and loyalty to the Shah (Beglarbegi is the name of Muhammad Shah's maternal grandfather), must have been made before the1838 revolt.
Notes from the Glory and Prosperity exhibition, Feb - June 2002.
Publication History

Anthony Welch, Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World, University of Tennessee Press (Austin, TX, 1979), page 158-159/figure 66

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), pp.84/ fig.89

Rahim Habibeh, Inscription As Art In the World of Islam - Unity In Diversity, exh. cat., Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY, 1996), page 34/figure 3

Exhibition History

Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World, Asia House, 01/11/1979 - 03/11/1979; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, 04/17/1979 - 05/27/1979; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, 06/28/1979 - 08/12/1979; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, 09/14/1979 - 10/28/1979

Birds, Beasts and Calligraphies, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/11/1981 - 09/29/1981

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu