Christie’s marathon 12-hour auction of Indian jewellery and works of art from the Al Thani family held in New York included the finest collection of courtly weapons to come to auction in well over a generation.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell
The $109m sale of objects from the Qatari ruling family on June 19 was conducted as a partnership between Christie’s and art advisory firm The Fine Art Group.
The financial highlight of a stellar group of jewelled dress daggers was provided by the kard thought to have belonged to Shah Jahan (1592-1666), the fifth Mughal emperor and the man who built the Taj Mahal.
Fashioned c.1620-30 from a stone mined in Kashgar in present-day Xinjiang, the hilt of this dagger is superbly carved (perhaps by European lapidaries working at the Mughal court) with the head of a young man wearing a ruff.
Scrolling designs inlaid in gold to the blade include Shah Jahan’s chosen title sahib qiran thani (Second Lord of the Celestial Conjunction) and the parasol or chhatri motif long used to indicate royalty or divinity. A miniature in the Padshahnama (Book of Emperors) in Windsor Castle shows Prince Khurram (the future Shah Jahan) wearing a dagger with human head terminal in his waistband as he greets his father Jahangir (1569-1627).
The dagger had last appeared at auction in 1974 and had been acquired by the Al Thani family via a private collection. Estimated at $1.5m-2m it sold at $3.375m (£2.679m) including premium, establishing a record price for an Indian jade object.
From next year, works of art from the encyclopaedic Al Thani collection, which includes more than 6000 objects, will be shown at a new museum space in Paris.