Precious Indian Weapons and Other Princely Accoutrements
By Salam Kaoukji
2017, Thames & Hudson, 978-0-50097-080-5, $75 hb
Reviewed by Jane Waldron Grutz on November 15, 2017
As Salam Kaoukji explains in this beautifully produced and carefully annotated guide, few accoutrements could illustrate the high prestige of the owner as clearly as the decorative weapons he carried. This has been true since antiquity, but perhaps never more so than on the Indian subcontinent from the 16th through the 19th century, where artistic traditions from many sources were combined with an extraordinary level of craftsmanship. Of the nearly 200 weapons examined, most are fully functional edged weapons: swords, daggers or knives (many of which show use) with damascened blades and hilts fashioned in fine jade, rock crystal or precious metals and decorated with myriad jewels or enameled with intricate patterns. Horse trappings, archery rings and even shield fittings were also highly decorated and are included in this remarkable collection gathered over decades by the Al Sabah family of Kuwait and curated by Kaoukji. Illustrated with more than 500 color photos, Precious Indian Weapons offers a close-up look at one of the most spectacular collections of princely weapons in the world.