Scimitar with Scabbard

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

About the work

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This is a scimitar, a type of curved sword originally used in the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa. This scimitar’s journey represents the flow of trade and diplomacy through the Ottoman Empire. Persian swordsmiths fashioned the blade in the late 16th century or 17th century. An inscription on the blade reads, in Arabic, “I have entrusted myself to God.” Ottoman artists made the hilt and scabbard, or cover. The scabbard is so bejeweled it may as well be a small, mobile treasury. The Ottoman artist encrusted the brass hilt and scabbard with silver, gold, jade, and turquoise. The Ottomans used this group of highly decorated weapons, including swords, shields, and saddles, for parades and other state occasions. Ottoman officials often gave these ceremonial weapons as diplomatic gifts, and many ended up in European treasuries. Indeed, Spanish historians documented this sword as part of the Madrid Royal Armory in 1898.
Source: Catálogo Histórico-Descriptivo de la Real Armeria de Madrid. Original publication 1898. Reissued Editorial Maxtor 2008. Google Books.

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