Weapons - Persian sabre

Origin and time: Persia, beginning of the 19th century
KHM (Museum of Fine Arts), Vienna
Inv. No. C 209

This Persian sabre, exquisitely decorated with a handle made of ivory, white sapphires, and splendidly shining emeralds on the cross-guard and on the scabbard, was brought to the Austrian Royal Court as a gift. The inscription in gold on the elegant blade mentions the year 1813 and the name of Fath Ali Khan, who reigned as the Shah of Persia from 1797 to 1834. He came from the Turkmen Kajaran, a tribe originating from the shore of the Caspian Sea.

Instead of yet another emerald the inner surface of the cross-guard displays the email picture of a Persian beauty somewhat similar to the romantic style of contemporary European art. The lady is surrounded by roses.

The year 1813 was marked by the unhappy peace treaty of Gulistan which, after a long war, implicated for the Shah the loss of Transcaucasia, Georgia and parts of Armenia to the Tsar of Russia. The fabrication of this splendid sabre to be given as a gift to the Austrian Royal Court in this very year might be interpreted as an attempt of improving the relations with Austria, thus establishing a counterbalance to Russia.