IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th October, 2023 History

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Maharashtra’s Cultural Affairs Minister signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to bring back Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s legendary wagh nakh to the state.


  • The 'Wagh Nakh': The 'wagh nakh,' meaning 'tiger claws,' is a medieval claw-like dagger used across the Indian subcontinent. It consists of four or five curved blades attached to a glove or bar and is known for its slicing capabilities.
  • Afzal Khan vs. Shivaji Maharaj: The legendary use of the 'wagh nakh' is associated with the story of Afzal Khan, a formidable general of Bijapur's Adil Shahi Sultanate, who was ordered to subdue Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
  • Preparation for Treachery: During a meeting with Afzal Khan, Shivaji suspected treachery and came prepared. He wore chainmail under his robes and concealed a 'wagh nakh' in his sleeve.
  • The Deadly Encounter: In the meeting, Afzal Khan, under the guise of embracing Shivaji, attempted to stab him. However, Shivaji's armor protected him, and he retaliated with the 'wagh nakh,' which tore out Afzal Khan's guts. Khan was later beheaded by one of Shivaji's men.
  • Journey to London: The 'wagh nakh' made its way to London through James Grant Duff, an East India Company officer who served as the Company Resident of the Satara State. He received the weapon as a gift from the Prime Minister of the Peshwa of the Marathas.
  • Return of Historical Artefacts: In recent years, there has been a global movement to return historical and culturally significant artefacts to their places of origin, especially those acquired through colonial plunder.
  • The Trend of Restitution: The return of the 'wagh nakh' to Maharashtra is part of a broader trend where museums worldwide are acknowledging their colonial past and responding to demands from former colonies for the return of historically significant items.
  • Significance of Return: The return of the 'wagh nakh' aligns with the 350th-anniversary celebration of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's coronation, marking its historical and cultural significance.




Q. Which of the following best describes the 'Wagh Nakh'?

A) A type of Indian sword used by warriors during battles.

B) A medieval claw-like dagger with curved blades used for personal defense.

C) A traditional Indian musical instrument made from tiger claws.

D) A type of martial art practiced in ancient India.

Answer: B