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An extremely rare erotic Islamic Persian dagger with walrus ivory hilt
Persia, circa 1798

L. 41.6 cm

Dated سال ۱۲ or Hijri 12 "The year 12" (Hijri 1212, corresponding to June 26 1798 - June 15 1799 CE).
The girl at the front of the hilt appears to be in a state of daydreaming about love. The bird, a nightingale, and the roses represent the lover and the beloved in Persian art and literature. The rose symbolizes beauty and elegance, and the bird the human spirit.

“The most enduring symbol of love in Persian poetry is the nightingale, a male courting bird that loves the rose. Drunk with the beauty of the flower, the nightingale serenades his love while the rose remains oblivious to his adorations.”
The erotic scene at the reverse may perhaps be interpreted as the girl's daydream. It shows two female angels, heavenly beings that are normally repulsed by mankind's desire of sexual pleasure, engaged in lesbian affection.
Affection between two women in the Persia of the 19th century was fairly common and well documented. They could even formalize their relations in an act called khahar khandegi (sisterhood-by-oath).
Angels in Islam were thought to depart from people as soon as these people engaged in impure actions, which included, among others, sex, nudity, and also telling lies. In an angel's absence, the bad deeds were still noted, but the good deeds are no longer recorded for God. That is until this person ritually purified themselves. Another interesting layer is that Islamic scholarship generally sees angels are messengers of God without free will, and thus incapable of diverging from God's will. 

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