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Thread: Sharing a Green Stone Pesh Kabz

  1. #1
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    Sharing a Green Stone Pesh Kabz

    Hello everyone, I thought the board might be interested in a pesh kabz I own. I think the handle is made from serpentine and the inserts might be bone. The mounts are brass. It was all quite dirty and the blade had some active rust, all of which I have cleaned up and stabilised. There is old oil, grease and dirt behind the stone grip scales and I'm rather tempted to remove them, clean it all out and re-glue them to the tang. I also think they would benefit from polishing out the many tiny scratches on them - I'm sure the stone would be brighter and more attractive after that, but I don't want to ruin anything so I'll probably leave it alone. These are very elegant weapons and rather nice in the hand. I'm presuming this one dates from the late 1800s.

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  2. #2
    The blade might be wootz. The scales appear to be a more recent replacement.

    Better close-up photos would help.
    Last edited by Marius M; 11-13-2016 at 12:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Hi 'M'.

    I have a very similar one myself and I've seen many others
    They are truly beautiful.

    I'm guessing yours is on the larger side of the range for these?
    Mine is 13 1/2" overall, which is around as large as they tend to go.

    Smaller ones go right down to about 5".
    They sometimes have two-tone stone and mother of pearl inlaid hilts.

    My personal view is that they date to throughout most of the 19th century (especially the second half) with composite hilts becoming more common as time went on.
    Small examples certainly seem to have been made for the European (RaJ) market, possibly as fruit knives. These often have composite MOP/stone hilts.
    Although I think that these earlier, larger versions were made as weapons or whatever the buyer wanted to use them for.
    The stone used in the hilts is often described as 'Jade' or 'Jadeite' but as you rightly point out, it is probably Serpentine.
    Colours range considerably, with green by far the most often seen, but other colours, even blue being possible (although rather uncommon).

    The quality in those I've seen, ranges from good to absolutely superb.
    I've only personally seen monosteel examples. No wootz. Although it is not unheard-of for them to be etched to have a faux-wootz pattern.
    That said, the steel is good.
    The hilt scales are usually held in place with what look to be extremely fine brass tubes so closely rolled that they are essentially solid.
    They are also attached with a fine layer of 'filler' which seems to be some kind of resin which is coloured to match the stone.
    I wouldn't mess with the scales if I were you.
    They are very good IMHO.
    I think you hit the nail on the head when you described it as 'elegant'.
    I see these as perfection of form and function.

    A small pendant would have been attached on the tang loop.
    If you are handy with a needle file and fancy making a replacement, I can snap a shot of what it would have looked like?
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 11-14-2016 at 01:21 PM.

  4. #4
    The most I have seen, have wootz blades and ivory, but no stone scales, as stone scales became more fashionable in the 19th century. However, many older blades were refurbished in the 19th century (as they are now) with new scales and scabbards.

    Here is such an example.

    Stone one piece hilts were quite common on the Mughal Khanjars starting with the 18th century, and their style spread to other weapons as well.
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    Last edited by Marius M; 11-13-2016 at 11:22 PM.

  5. #5
    These are rather late for pesh. Second half 19thC seems likely for most. They were part of a range or 'fashion' that extended from fulll sized beautifully made pesh-kabz through strange variations such as makara shaped hilts, to oddities such as Kukri shaped knives made in the same general way and little utility 'fruit' knives.
    Doubless many were to appeal to Europeans.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  6. #6
    Hello Gene,

    I still have the impression the blade is wootz. And if it is, then at least the blade is earlier.
    Can I please get some close-up photos of the blade?

    Now, wootz or not, these blades are very carefully made, chiseled and profiled to this elegant shape. And they are very suitable for real combat, very much unlike their "Mughal Dagger" cousins with one piece stone hilts, which have a very short and flimsy tang inserted into the hilt and cannot withstand the shocks resulted from real use.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Marius

  7. #7
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    Thank you for all the replies. I've had independent advice and it backs up much of the information already kindly posted here. The valuation surprised me though as it's much higher than I expected and I feel compelled to sell it on as I'm far more of a sword collector.

    More photos, as requested. I'm afraid I only have a phone camera to use:

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    The scabbard is a velvety sort of material covering a rather old wood. I think I will take members' advice and leave the scales alone and I don't have the expertise to fashion a new pendant. It's about 10 inches from tip to tail, and I don't see any hint of wootz on the blade but I haven't tried an etch.

  8. #8
    Thak you for the photos but unfortunately, they don't help too much.

    Wootz or not, the blade needs some cleaning.

    Regards,

    Marius

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by M Forde View Post
    Hello everyone, I thought the board might be interested in a pesh kabz I own. I think the handle is made from serpentine and the inserts might be bone. The mounts are brass. It was all quite dirty and the blade had some active rust, all of which I have cleaned up and stabilised. There is old oil, grease and dirt behind the stone grip scales and I'm rather tempted to remove them, clean it all out and re-glue them to the tang. I also think they would benefit from polishing out the many tiny scratches on them - I'm sure the stone would be brighter and more attractive after that, but I don't want to ruin anything so I'll probably leave it alone. These are very elegant weapons and rather nice in the hand. I'm presuming this one dates from the late 1800s.
    I like the style of your pesh kabz, it is hard to tell if the hilt was a later addition or if the workmanship was just not of the highest quality, it is possible that it originally had a mosiac type hilt with needed to be replaced. I think you would have to compare it to other similar examples.











    Last edited by eric t; 11-17-2016 at 03:07 AM.

  10. #10
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    Thanks, Eric. Some of those are stunning. I think mine hasn't been looked after as well as it could have been but a good polish to the scales and blade, and some work on the handle and it could quite easily be brought up to scratch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marius M View Post
    Thak you for the photos but unfortunately, they don't help too much.

    Wootz or not, the blade needs some cleaning.

    Regards,

    Marius
    It could do with a bit more work but I think I will leave that for the next owner.

  11. #11
    Hi Eric

    Where did you find this one:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  12. #12
    (continued from above post to have picture in the right place): Because it's mine from my earlier post. Compare the inclusions.
    You guys are just going to have to trust me on this one lol!
    The OP's example is 100% original. The scales are not replacements and the blade was made for it and is not an earlier blade re-purposed.
    The solid stone scales are of very fine quality. The mosaic ones....... Nice but not on the same level as the solid stone scales.
    These are a specific type. It's not fair to compare them with earlier high-end pesh-kabz. They have a place in a collection all of their own.
    Here's one of the kukri shaped ones from an ended ebay auction. You can see that it looks well made but has a more modern look to the construction.:
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 11-19-2016 at 02:21 AM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Marius M View Post
    Hello Gene,

    I still have the impression the blade is wootz. And if it is, then at least the blade is earlier.
    Can I please get some close-up photos of the blade?

    Now, wootz or not, these blades are very carefully made, chiseled and profiled to this elegant shape. And they are very suitable for real combat, very much unlike their "Mughal Dagger" cousins with one piece stone hilts, which have a very short and flimsy tang inserted into the hilt and cannot withstand the shocks resulted from real use.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Marius
    Hi Marius,

    From looking at your posts you have a selection of extremely fine examples.
    Lucky you indeed!

    I've often thought about those elaborate 'Mughul' Stone hilted Khanjars.
    The short tang reminds me of Arabic khanjar/jambiya.
    Jade is incredibly hard. I can only wonder how 18th century artisans drilled the tang hole in those hilts. Even just 2" deep!
    I guess with the right medium holding it together these daggers would be usable. But as you say, they are not something you'd want to take to war...... Or for that matter drop on a marble floor in your 'palace'!
    I guess a fact born out by the amount of ones in museum collections with chips/missing ears etc!
    Certainly as much a piece of jewellery as a weapon.

    With the slab scales on the OP's dagger and mine, I've seen a lot of these and what surprises me is the damage I've seen is usually where a complete scale piece has dropped out.
    The late ones with composite hilts of mother of pearl and stone often have bits missing but that's more understandable. These have brass pins holding them together. You'd think many would be missing chunks of the legs of the stone bolsters?

    They seem to me to have had a fair amount of care put into their design and I've often wondered if the brass pins and resins were carefully chosen to help make them more sturdy?
    And I'm only talking about the complete stone ones like mine and the OPs.
    They are handle heavy but surprisingly the balance on mine does work. The point of balance is just where the long legs are at the start of the jade scales. On the smaller ones it's probably not such an issue but mine is 13 1/2" long and weighs 310g. So a full sized dagger by any standard.
    Notice also the bronze mounts on the scabbard have more work that often seen on these.

    They are interesting variants, not as beautiful as the wootz bladed Pesh Kabz in your collection of course.

  14. #14
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    That's a very interesting kukri, Gene - I haven't noticed that style of handle before. Your green-stone pesh kabz is rather nice too and I like the variations in the scales' colour. I'll be putting mine up to move on when I find the motivation.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Wilkinson View Post
    Hi Eric

    Where did you find this one:
    Gene, I have it on my Pinterest "pesh kabz" board, I think it came for this discussion. http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...7160-Pesh-Kabz

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by M Forde View Post
    That's a very interesting kukri, Gene - I haven't noticed that style of handle before. Your green-stone pesh kabz is rather nice too and I like the variations in the scales' colour. I'll be putting mine up to move on when I find the motivation.
    From Artzi's site, here is an example of a sometimes seen monster head (Makara?)
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  17. #17

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Wilkinson View Post
    From Artzi's site, here is an example of a sometimes seen monster head (Makara?)


    Artzi's discription.
    As from the last quarter of the 19 C, around 1880, the European market for decorative arts from the east was rapidly growing. To satisfy this grow, many Indian weapons were produced to meet this market demands. They are mostly characterized by the good quality blades of high Carbon steel and Jade (actually Jadeite), other stones or Mother of Pearl handles of very good workmanship. This style of handles was implemented to many classical Indian blades: Pesh-Kabz, Kards, Khukuries and even Tulwar blades. Here we have a classical example of an Indian heavy Pesh-Kabz knife, 10 1/2 inches blade with up-curving pronounced spine. The handle grips are made of sectors of Jadeite with ivory separators. The pommel is carved in a styled lion head. Steel grip straps and bolsters. Wood scabbard covered with black leather, steel tip and brass ring to attach a carrying cord. Total length 18 1/2 inches. Very good condition. Blade tip slightly re shaped. Age crack almost un noticeable on the left grip. Leather cover is recent. Very good item of good workmanship and condition.

  19. #19
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    Artzi's site is an interesting resource and I have at times found myself trawling it trying to identify ethnographic items - thank you for posting that, Eric.

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