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Afghanistan, first half 19th C.
late 19th century
From a private collection. A Qajar dervish axe from the late 19th century with the caracteristic serpent / dragon head. The axe measures 76 cm with a 22,5 cm axe head. Bilaterally finely hacid-etched with scrolling plant motifs around a central cartouche. Signs of cross-hatching but all gold decorations have worn off. Condition is good with some scattered surface pitting. This is not a fighting axe but one of the attributes of a wandering dervish.
A dervish (from Persian to Turkish: درویش, Darvīsh, Somali: darwiish, Arabic: درويش, Darwīš) is an Islamic Sufi cleric who has taken a vow of poverty. The word is derived from 'dar', Persian for door, and 'wish', a particular form of the Persian verb for sitting. So a dervish is one who wants to sit at only one door, the door of the divine Beloved. According to others, the name comes from Persian: darwich = poor, darvesh = beggar. 'Al-Mustamlī al-Bukhārī (d. 434/1042) identified dervishes and faqīrs as ascetics and voluntary poor; Abū Said b. Abū al-Khayr (from Mayhana, in Khurāsān, d. 440/1049) considered dervishes as saints, in the sense that they were gates to God; Alī al-Hujwīrī (or Ghazni, d. 465/1073) detailed the concepts of spiritual poverty and wandering: the former means depriving oneself of everything but God ( fanā, lit. “annihilation” in God), while the latter suggests that the dervish is not a wayfarer but a way himself through which God conveys his will to mankind.' Alexandre Papas. Below a picture of a young dervish with a similar axe. Photo by Antoin Sevruguin.
Similar items in museum collections:
Horniman Museum & Gardens, London, accession number 6.9.66/44
Albert Hall Museum, Jaipur
Askeri Military Museum, Istanbul
Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad, India
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