The Tanjore Marathas sure did have a flair for aesthetics even when it came to decorating their lethal weapons. The ‘dagger with a central glass body' which is the exhibit of the week at the Government Museum Egmore is testimony enough.

“The central part of the dagger is made of hardened glass and has triangular contours,” says curator, C. Maheswaran, about the 16th century piece.

“The serrations that line the edges are blunt so as to not harm the person handling the weapon. But once the dagger is pierced into the body, it can cause serious damage,” he adds. This unique collection was acquired through a transfer from the Tanjore Armoury to the Government Museum, by the then English East India Company during the early 1900s. The hilt and the tapering on the end of the dagger are crafted out of silver while the gold guilt has been eroded. The use of precious metals such as silver and gold may indicate that this piece was used by the royal family, observes P.D. Balaji, head-in-charge, Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Madras. The aesthetic aspect of this dagger is further enhanced with a pair of semi-precious red stones to indicate the eyes of the yali which forms the handle. The exhibit will be on display till November 6.

Keywords: Chennai museums

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