This is a 20th century Pesh Kabz dagger in the Mughal style (named after the ruling dynasty established in Northern India by Babur 1526-1530). The seller identified it as originating from the Karoli (Karauli) district of India. The dagger is beautifully damascened with silver although in some lighting it looks almost like gold. The dagger as a whole is 11 3/4 inch in length. The damascus steel blade, with heavy brown patina and some pittings, is 7 3/8 inches long. The blade has a traditional T-shape cross section 3/8t inch wide near the hilt recurved slightly towards a narrow diamond cross section for the last 2 inches to the tip. The unusual diamond cross section is more typical of the sirah bouk dagger. The edge side recurves from a broad base to a very sharp tip.
The Pesh Kabz (pesh qabz) is of Persian origin and was introduced into India in the 16th century. The name means “fore grip” in Persian. Persian swordsmiths were often employed at Indian courts. By the end of the 16th century, Indian smiths has mastered many of the Persian techniques and the India and Persian styles became highly intermixed.
The Pesh Kabz is related to the straight bladed Choora typical of northern India and the tribes of the Hindu Kush, the Karud, and the Khyber (salwar yataghan) of the Pashtun tribes. All share the T-shape cross section which makes the blade extremely strong. The shape of the Pesh Kabz naturally extends the thrusting hand and is ideal for piercing chain-mail armor. The wide blade also can be used effectively with slashing or cutting strokes.
The Pesh Kabz was used by warriors across a vast area, from Central Asia through Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. There is great variety in their style, size and decoration.