Wootz Pesh Kabz
Date: 19th century
Materials: Ivory, Wootz, steel, wood and leather
A nice example of a Indo-Persian Wootz Pesh Kabz, with an Ivory Hilt and two period matching scabbards.
The pesh-kabz or peshkabz (Persian: پیش قبض, Hindi: पेश क़ब्ज़) is a type of Indo-Persian knife designed to penetrate mail armour and other types of armor. The word is also spelled pesh-qabz or pish-ghabz and means "fore-grip" in the Persian language; it was borrowed into the Hindustani language. The Pesh Kabz became a popular weapon of choice in Mughal India. Most pesh-kabz use a hollow-ground, tempered steel single-edged full tang, recurved blade with a thick spine bearing a "T" cross-section for strength and rigidity. In most examples, a pair of handle scales are fixed to the full-tang grip, which features a hooked butt. The earliest forms of this knife featured a recurved blade, suggestive of its Persian origin. In all variants the blade is invariably broad at the hilt, but tapers progressively and radically to a needle-like, triangular tip. Upon striking a coat of mail, this reinforced tip spreads the chain link apart, enabling the rest of the blade to penetrate the armour. The pesh kabz is typically used as a thrusting (armour piercing) weapon also held upside down in hand with the thumb on the bottom of the handle.
The hilt is constructed of two large slabs of Elephant ivory, held together with steel bolsters. Ivory is known for being hard, so it proved to be one of the best materials for a pesh kabz which was going to be used for armour piercing/thrusting. The ivory slabs show a good colour and age patination, which are a sign of fine quality elephant ivory. The ivory is smooth to touch with natural forming cracks; so it has been preserved very well over the years. The hilt is large and allows for a comfortable grip. The tang has some remnants of gold koftgari, which originally would have extended around the entire tang.
The blade is the most attractive, with a strongly watered 'damascus' wootz blade in good condition. The wootz has boldly contrasting shades of silver and dark grey with a very fine pattern; attractive to the eye and provides the blade with toughness and durability - a well-known quality of Wootz steel. There is differential heat treatment throughout the blade, leading to lighter and darker sections. This type of wootz is often referred to as ‘Persian’ or ‘Iranian’ Wootz. Wootz from Persian was most desirable as the smiths were known for producing Wootz of the highest quality, usually distinguishable by its dark colour and fine crystallised pattern. Wootz steel is a crucible steel characterized by a pattern of bands and high carbon content. These bands are formed by sheets of microscopic carbides within a tempered martensite or pearlite matrix in higher carbon steel, or by ferrite and pearlite banding in lower carbon steels. Often, Persian Wootz blades were imported into India and mounted onto Indian Tulwar hilts and daggers to create weapons of the highest quality. The wootz blade is of a strong armour piercing form, with a reinforced edge and T section. There is some pitting on the blade, but nothing deep or of concern.
The new period matching scabbard is wrapped in a brown leather to match the colour of the elephant ivory. At the end of the scabbard is a iron chape with a ball finial. The steel is given a light finish to give it a period matching aesthetic. This scabbard is a fantastic addition to the Pesh Kabz to complete its look.