A RARE AND LARGE GOLD AND WALRUS IVORY CAUCASIAN KINDJAL BELONGING TO IMAM SHAMIL
A RARE AND LARGE GOLD AND WALRUS IVORY CAUCASIAN KINDJAL BELONGING TO IMAM SHAMIL
A RARE AND LARGE GOLD AND WALRUS IVORY CAUCASIAN KINDJAL BELONGING TO IMAM SHAMIL
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Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more
A RARE AND LARGE GOLD AND WALRUS IVORY CAUCASIAN KINDJAL BELONGING TO IMAM SHAMIL

CIRCA 1841, CAUCASUS

Details
A RARE AND LARGE GOLD AND WALRUS IVORY CAUCASIAN KINDJAL BELONGING TO IMAM SHAMIL
CIRCA 1841, CAUCASUS
Of traditional shape, with carved walrus ivory handle inlaid with gold scrolling foliage, the blade on both sides extensively inlaid with gold design, the scabbard with leather and steel mounts inlaid in gold en suite, the reverse of the wearing band with the inlaid gold Arabic inscription 'The Owner of This Kindjal is Sheik Shamil 1257 [1841]', with a small knife on the reverse of the scabbard
Kindjal 22¾ in. (58 cm.); blade 16¼ in. (41 cm.)

Provenance
Grand Duke Piotr Nikolaevich (1865-1931).
Prince Roman Petrovich (1896-1978).
Prince Dmitri Romanovich (1926-2016).
Special notice

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
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Alexis de Tiesenhausen
Alexis de Tiesenhausen

Lot Essay

Imam Shamil (1797-1871) was a political and religious leader of the Muslims of the Northern Caucasus. He was the leader of the resistance against the Russian army during the Caucasian wars and was the third Imam of the Caucasian Imamate (1840-1859).

Shamil was born in the small aul of Gimry, which is in present-day Dagestan. He was born at a time when Russia was expanding into the territories of the Ottoman Empire and Persia.

Following the Russian invasion, many Caucasian tribes united in resistance, in what became known as the Caucasian wars. After the death of Hamzat-bek in 1834, Shamil took his place as the leader of the Caucasian resistance in the East, and became the third Imam of the Caucasian Imamate, a military theocracy which held out until Shamil's surrender in 1859 at Gunib. Shamil was effective at uniting the many quarrelsome Caucasian tribes to fight the Russian army by the force of his charisma, piety and fairness and made effective use of guerrilla warfare tactics.

With the end of the Crimean War in March 1856, Russia was free to turn its full attention to the Caucasus. In July 1856 Prince Baryatinsky was appointed both Viceroy and Commander-in-Chief and set about reorganizing the armies. In August 1859 Shamil fled with his remaining murids to Gunib where they were surrounded by the Russian army. After the first assault on 25 August, Shamil chose to surrender.

After his capture, Shamil was sent to St Petersburg, where he met Emperor Alexander II, and was subsequently exiled to Kaluga. In 1869 he was given permission to perform the Hajj. On his return after completing his pilgrimage to Mecca, he died in Medina in 1871.

It is almost certain that the present kindjal, once belonging to Imam Shamil, was shown in the late 1880s to Franz Roubaud and used by him as a reference, when he was commissioned to depict the history of the long conflict in the Caucasus in sixteen paintings for the newly created Caucasian War Historical Museum in Tiflis. Determined to achieve historical accuracy, Roubaud travelled extensively in the Caucasus and spent a much time scrutinizing large amount of historical documents as well as meeting witnesses.

Roubaud's The Surrender of Shamil (c. 1886), listed as number 97 in the permanent exhibition (see Ukazatel’ po kavkazskomu voenno-istoricheskomu muzeiu, Tiflis, 1907, p. 123, no. 97), depicts the final moments of the surrender in the aul of Gunib on 25 August 1859. It depicts Imam Shamil, wearing a kindjal similar in size and design to the present lot, offering his surrender to Prince Baryatinsky, Viceroy of the Caucasus. For Roubaud's study of Imam Shamil for this painting, see lot 42.

It is unclear how the present kindjal came into the possession of Grand Duke Piotr Nikolaevich. Either it was given to him by his father Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich the Elder (1831-1891), brother of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich (1832- 1909), Viceroy of the Caucasus between 1862 and 1881, or by his brother Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich the Younger (1856-1926) also Viceroy of the Caucasus between 1915 and 1917.

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