Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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kronckew 1st December 2018 05:20 PM

Indian Whotsit for comment:
1 Attachment(s)
Picked this one up cheaply at auction this afternoon. Was descrbed as a 'sword', I of course realised it was more than that.

Farengi? Kirach? Kanda? Poor picture, will hopefully get it soon and get rid of the active rust and get some better clues.

Straight blade, appears to have a rounded tip, tulwar grip with curved pommel spike with a ball end.

What shall I call it?

ariel 1st December 2018 08:41 PM

It is unlikely to be Kirach: those are single edged and usually ( here I am cautious) have a sharp point.

Firangi by definition use European blades , but there is too much rust to see any markings.
Thus, I am torn between Khanda and Tulwar.
However, here we get bogged in the linguistics. There are far too many languages in India and different ethnicities called the same things differently.
In a way, it is like asking what is a correct name for “ a sword from Europe” , a place roughly comparable in size to India, but infinitely poorer in the number of languages used. Sword? Schwert?Spada? Kard? Espada? Epee?

In the new Elgood’s book he shows blades he calls Khanda, but whose appearance is totally different from the “classic” khanda blades as per Rawson or Egerton. And, by the way, locally produced “ Firangi”-type swords were called Dhup and Asa Shamshir depending on their locality.

I would clean yours, hugged it and kissed it, and I would call it Khanda. If I am wrong, it would take it no more than couple centuries to accustom itself to a new moniker:-)

The curved pommel projection is ( also per Elgood) compatible with 17th century.

Hope it cleans well. I love those old and unpretentious things that saw a lot of battlefields but nary a single palace wall.

Jens Nordlunde 1st December 2018 09:23 PM

I am really glad the dealer thought it was a sword - help the rest of us collectors to recognise a sword when we see one:-).

I would love to see it cleaned, but I agree with Ariel that is most likely is a khanda, and the hilt is Mughal 17th century, unless the blade has been changed.
This does not mean that the hilt and the blade were 'born' together, but they could have been.

Jim McDougall 1st December 2018 09:29 PM

I really like swords in this 'untouched' condition, they're the real deal and haven't been worked over by 'industrious' sellers. In cleaning, stay conservative please! That patination in 'history incarnate' and deserves to stay on this old warrior....just some WD40 to remove any active rust etc.

What to call this is truly irrelevant.....though properly the 'firangi' term applies to a sword with a 'foreign' blade. The khanda term is simply a term for sword in general usually in southern to central regions, and is typically used for the 'Hindu basket hilt' but actually is for the old open hilt forms as well.

Tulwar usually refers to the familiar 'Indo-Persian' hilt swords of the north and central regions, but again is a term broadly used for any sword...not otherwise specified. There are Deccani and Scinde etc. types with 'shamshir' type hilts referred to as 'tulwar'. The so called Afghan 'paluoar' is actually a tulwar but considered an Afghan style, even though actually Deccani.

In the native cavalry units, even the regulation British military sabres are termed 'tulwar'.

The 'name game' is mostly counter productive, and it is better to rely on worded description which considers the elements of the sword and notes probable regions of origin or influences.

The rebated point blade on this sword is unusual, and may be a European blade but it is unknown whether SE or DE or if markings....fullering or forte unclear. The canted pommel spike usually suggests a stem in the hilt motif and these it seems may be a Rajput affectation. On khandas (basket hilts) these are often (longer) thought to be for a second hand hold, but here obviously the stem type representation more likely.

Extremely nice, good solid old warrior!

kronckew 3rd December 2018 05:31 PM

Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
I am really glad the dealer thought it was a sword - help the rest of us collectors to recognise a sword when we see one:-).


They did manage to add 'Antique' to the front as further guidance, the full description was thus even more helpful, that pinned it down a lot.

Full description was two words, 'Antique sword' nothing else.

Kmaddock 3rd December 2018 05:41 PM

The worse the description the better I find, as less chance of it being found from internet searches

I got a scissors katar that was labeled as
"farm implement, possibly for shearing sheep"
The auctioneer was shocked when I paid the 15 euro, someone bid me from the opening price of 10!!

I reckon we could have a thread on "Badly labeled auction lots"

I love the sword congratulations on pulling it out of obscurity.


PS just realised it is in my avatar in my sons hand

kronckew 3rd December 2018 06:14 PM

I have a rather nice presentation high status burmese fighting dha that the vendor (an older lady) was told by her son was a worthless 'Egyptian machete'. I told her what it ws after winning the ebay auction, she said she was going to kill him. Good thing she'd already posted the sword, she might have used it :D

It's not only "Caveat Emptor", but also "Caveat Venditor".

I seem to recall we discussed 'Worst vendor descriptions' here on the forum in the past. ;)

ariel 4th December 2018 03:38 AM

Regretfully, poor descriptions are going the way of Dodo:-((((

Sellers use e-bay and Google images for information more and more..... inconsiderate bastards!
The Fat Fingers ( a tool for finding misspelled names, like “ samsir”, “ sashqua” )
also lost most of its value. These days one needs a lot of good books to learn small signs of interesting details.

But miracles still happen.

kronckew 5th December 2018 07:42 PM

Item arrived late this afternoon from Isle of Mann, Only paid them Tues. Must have made all the connections perfectly, came in thru Bristol, just south of me :)

Anyhow, I am a happy chappy. blade is basically fine, a little surface rust, the auction picture is very misleading. No major pitting evident. pommel disk a bit wobbly, the 'horn' is solid tho, as is the rest of the grip. The blade is a bit flexible, distal tapered, Single edged, narrow fuller along the spine, and a wider one on the centre line. Tip is sharp, rounded. there is a distinct raised straight yelman about 6 in., sharp, as is the rest of the blade. NO nicks in the field sharp edge.

Obvious markings are three circles with centre dots in a triangle near the end of the tri-lobed languet on both sides. The two side lobes of the languet end have centre holes and the un-holed centre lobe has a small spire. oddly, the yelman has a single dotted circle stamp either side right near the spine juncture. The yelman is only about an eight of an inch higher than the flat spine. A bit of elbow grease with scotchbrite and this warhorse would be ready to fight another war. Grip is essentially quite comfortable in a hammer grip, Or even more with a finger over the guard. There is a rough patch on the lower cross guard, and a corresponding patch on the pommel disk where obviously a flat finger bow had been, about a half in wide. It's being missing is likely why the disk moves a bit.

It looks an awful lot like this blade is Wootz as well!

Pictures to follow when I clean her up a bit.

Jim McDougall 5th December 2018 09:05 PM

From the Isle of Mann!!!!! Now that's an unusual neighborhood for this to be in.
This has every appearance of a Rajput weapon in my thinking, the canted stem very much as often found on the Khanda hilt (or firangi). It seems these pierced langets are something seen in the northwest, often into Afghan regions. The Rajputs are of course known for their use of both the tulwar and khanda. The amalgamation of both forms as seen here may explain the unusual character of this wonderfully static piece.

Here I would point out that Scottish units in the British Army were quite well represented in India during the Raj (I have seen photos of Indian figures in native regiments in Khyber regions with Scottish basket hilts). It would be tempting to consider the unusual provenance of this clearly untouched Indian sword may suggest it could have been a 'bringback' from a soldier in one of these Scottish units in the 19th c. Often these kinds of things remain in estates for generations.

Nicely done we have this stately old warrior for posterity and it may have stories to tell us :)

kronckew 5th December 2018 10:02 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I was afraid they'd not be able to post it reasonably, had a quote from another auction place there a few monts ago that was outrageous. They did it for a little less than what others charged me here on the big island :). When I called to pay the piper, They initially asked if I was on the island. I laughed and told them no, and I wasn't going to swim that far either (they do have a ferry). they then added in the P&P. The sword must have come air mail. Isle of Mann has a different Govt. setup than the rest of the UK, they do everything by what I think of as Vermont Town Meetings. A holdover from viking era, It's a scandawegian 'Thing'. Even their Manx cats are weird, the are born tail-less. Weird stuff pops up in weird places around here in the British Isles...

The 'Thing' is interesting:

Manx Cat - go from completely tail-less to very short tails. Stubby to half tailed ones are healthier.

kronckew 6th December 2018 12:09 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Gets more interesting. Scotchbrighted the blade to get off the red stuff, found another set of 3 dotted circles in a triangle near the blade tip either side. Also found a row of approx. 10 smaller dotted circles almost on the blade edges, almost touching each other, disappearing under the resin holding the blade.
the cross-guard and grip section appear to be in two pieces. they have a line of sheet metal between them, the cross-guard on the side where I thought a finger bow guard may have attached doesn't look like anything was. that one has a flat spot from the remains of the sheet metal to a square corner, also on the upper squillion. Looks almost like a bowl guard was once there behind the cross-guard. Like this fancier one I found on the internet:

Jens Nordlunde 23rd December 2018 09:33 PM

Did we ever see a picture of the sword after you got it???

kronckew 23rd December 2018 11:31 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Aa few better ones, red stuff removed and oiled:

Jens Nordlunde 6th January 2019 03:43 PM

Is there a hole in one of the quillons?
All the dotted circles are a riddle to me, but the hilt looks a bit like the hilts used by the Talpurs of Sind, although I doubt it is from there.
How broad is the attachment of the hand guard at the disc?

kronckew 6th January 2019 04:47 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Is there a hole in one of the quillons?
All the dotted circles are a riddle to me, but the hilt looks a bit like the hilts used by the Talpurs of Sind, although I doubt it is from there.
How broad is the attachment of the hand guard at the disc?

Hole:Yes. A tiny one. looks drilled. Goes all the way thru.
Attachment to pommel disk/guard looks like 1 in.

Jens Nordlunde 7th January 2019 12:57 PM

2 Attachment(s)
The hole could be for a pin attached to a short chain attached to the scabbard to make sure the sword stays in the scabbard.
I have seen this on jade daggers - see below, but I have never seen this on swords. Sword scabbards often have a loop to keep the sword in place - see below. Mostly the loop is broken off, and only the 'fish tail' remains.

kronckew 7th January 2019 01:34 PM

Interesting! Thanks.

Sadly, no scabbard.

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