Jahangir Treasure - Life is Race

Jahangir Treasure

Forged in the early 17th century for the Mughal emperor Jahangir, sold for an estimated $250,000 to Qatar's royal family in 2013. It's not just another fancy steak knife: Its peripatetic history links it to the Taj Mahal, the man behind Morse code and a well-known arms dealer in Pittsburgh. And at age 390 or so, it still looks pretty sharp.

Jahangir, a passionate patron of the arts during his 22-year reign, commissions the jade hilt with a carved youth's head (believed to be based on an ivory representation of Jesus).
Upon Jahangir's death in 1627 at age 58, the dagger passes to his son and successor, Shah Jahan, who has the steel blade reworked and inscribed with gold, including two Mughal symbols: the royal umbrella (chattri) and auspicious fish (mahi). That same decade, to honor his late third wife, Shah Jahan begins constructing an elaborate mausoleum: a white-marble pile called the Taj Mahal.

The dagger is owned by Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph and co-inventor of his eponymous code, who was also an accomplished painter and art collector.

Circa 1960s
Bernard Braverman, an antique-arms expert who ran the weapons retailer Braverman Arms Co. (still in business) near Pittsburgh for 30 years, acquires the knife for his private collection.
Braverman consigns the dagger to Christie's, which auctions it in London in April 1974 to a private collector for an undisclosed sum. Eight years later it appears in an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, then drops out of sight
for three decades.
Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani, of Qatar's ruling family, acquires the shiv from a private collector for his family's extensive holdings of royal Indian artifacts. San Francisco dealer Greg Martin, who has previously sold antique arms to the Al-Thanis, prices it at more than a quarter-million dollars.
October 2014
Jahangir's dagger goes on display in "Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection" at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art . Care to see it? It'll be there through Jan. 25.

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