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ALEX 20th June 2007 10:50 AM

Help with the stamps please
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I've seen the similar stamp (on the left side) in one of the books, but can not remember anymore. I think it's an armory mark. What is/are they?

Jens Nordlunde 20th June 2007 10:59 AM

Hi Alex,
Both marks seem to be very deep. Is the mark to the right a katar?

ALEX 20th June 2007 11:21 AM

Jens, it is difficult to make that determination, but it looks like it is.

RSWORD 20th June 2007 01:26 PM

The one stamp definitely looks to be a katar and the other stamp I believe is a trident. Unfortunately, cannot say if these are armoury marks, religious in nature, or what.

Jens Nordlunde 20th June 2007 01:55 PM

Alex, I have seen at least one other blade on this forum with a katar mark, the problem is, that I don’t remember who showed it and when it was, but it looked very much like the one you show. So lets hope someone sees this and comes forward.

What does the whole sword look like? Do you have any close ups of the hilt?

ALEX 20th June 2007 02:44 PM

Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
... What does the whole sword look like? Do you have any close ups of the hilt?

Jens, I found this blade as a rusty piece of metal, without a hilt. It has been cleaned and polished and it appears to be of a low contrast pattern welded steel. I am inclined to say it is of an Indian origin, but it's just a distant quess.

Jens Nordlunde 20th June 2007 03:48 PM

Alex, I think you can drop the ’inclined to say’. This blade is Indian, and I am glad you got it, and restored it. The interesting part now will be the digging, to find out from where in India it origins – happy digging. Should I find anything, rest assured that I will let you know.
Can we see the blade, just to see the form and the tang?
Could you also give us a close up of the katar?

Jim McDougall 20th June 2007 05:29 PM

The mark on the left is a trident and this is seen on tulwar blades in the same location in the center, upper third of the blade usually. The later examples of this from 19th c. seem to have become more stylized and look more like a bird foot. I have seen early tulwar blades with this trident and in the upper forte near the hilt a cartouche usually stamped in Urdu script.

Jens, I think in Rawson there is a tulwar with the markings described but cannot recall what illustration it was. Also, in Egerton, it seems in the chapter concerning Gujerat, there is detail on a tribal group who have a great deal of traditional focus on the katar. It is said, if memory serves, that they swear oaths, legal matters etc. on the katar, and that any failure or 'breach of the contract' would compell the swearer, even unto suicide for such dishonor. I recall in research years ago that I had considered the possibility that such blades bearing the katar stamp may have had to do with this tribe. The reason I am suggesting this to you is in hopes you might find that reference in Egerton as I do not have access to it, and I would be interested in your opinion. Its horrible without the books !!:)
In most cases the tulwars these markings turn up on seem to be from Rajasthan regions, and I had also considered Sikh provenance but no convincing support for that has become known to me.

All the best,

Battara 20th June 2007 08:15 PM

The trident is one of the symbols of Shiva in India.

Jens Nordlunde 21st June 2007 03:48 PM

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Hi Jim,

I did not find the part about any tribal group in Gujerat, nor did I find any katar stamp in The Indian Sword (Danish edition), but I found half a trisula, page 154 #65 – see the picture. The text does not mention the blade, but says that the hilt is Lahuri type early 19th century, and the sword belongs to the V&A Museum.

Berkley 21st June 2007 07:35 PM

Egerton reference

The Kattees of Guzerat carry a sword, shield, and spear. The latter is about 8 ft. long, and is made so slender as to break when thrown at the enemy, to whom it thus becomes useless.
Till the establishment of the British supremacy in 1835, no deed or agreement was considered binding unless guaranteed by the mark of the “ Katár,” and on the failure or breach of a contract they inflicted “trágá,” on themselves, (i.e. committed suicide) or, in extreme cases, carried out the murder of relations with that weapon. The Bards of Guzerat were hereditary heralds, and guardians of “trágá.” They seldom appeared without the Katár, a representation of which was scrawled beside their signatures, and rudely engraved on their monumental stones.
“Trágá” as generally performed extends no farther than a cut with the “Katár” in the arm, and those people who are in the habit of becoming security generally have such cuts from the elbow downward.

Egerton , Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour, p.137, citing in footnote “Trans. Of the Lit. Soc. Of Bombay. 1813. Forbes’ Ras Mala, p. 558 (new edition) 1878.”

Jens Nordlunde 21st June 2007 09:44 PM

Thank you very much Berkley - you have been a great help:).
Should you have any more 'points' please let us know.

Jim McDougall 22nd June 2007 12:21 AM

Hi Jens,
Thank you very much, that picture is the exact sword I was thinking of!!! I couldnt remember which source, but I've seen it in several places.

Nicely done, thats the exact reference I was trying to recall.Thank you so much for posting the paragraph and citing...very much appreciated!!

Battara, thanks for the note on the Shiva connection for the trisula.

All the best,

Jim McDougall 23rd June 2007 12:18 AM

So back to the original topic, was this deeply stamped trisula marking that seems to occur basically in the same location on Indian blades, an armoury mark or other? The occurence of markings on Indian blades that may distinctively identify armouries or arsenals has been suggested frequently but the only key identification seems to be items from Bikaner. It has been hoped that markings such as these 'trisulas' might provide clues to armoury identification, but that has proven considerably elusive.

As I have noted, I have seen the trisula marking in circular cartouche in the same location on a tulwar blade that was quite heavy and likely of latter 17th century. In the same type cartouche bear the hilt, as shown in the illustration Jens has presented, the inscription appeared in Urdu. As I also indicated earlier, later blades appear on tulwars of the 19th c. with a more stylized trisula with thinner stamp, and these seem to be of Rajasthan manufacture.

In the case of Alex's blade, with the trisula as well as the katar, I have wondered before with another sword with similar stamps, whether the weapon might have been associated with the Kattee's of Gujerat ( and I thank Berkley again for finding the reference I had lost). If the katar was of such importance, and clearly the enforcement of thier tradition was so strongly represented by it, then certainly such an insignia might be placed a weapon intended for such action. It almost seems that it appears in a subordinate position to the apparantly well established symbol of Shiva, the trisula, which of course occurs in variations previously described.

I am wondering whether the trisula, though obviously a religiously themed symbol, may have been adopted in a sense as a mark of quality or power, much in the same sense as the well known 'sickle marks' (termed 'gurda' on Caucasian blades) and of course trade blades from other centers.

Perhaps armoury markings in the parlance we have considered, as found in the regulation or issue weapons of many countries, may not apply in the same manner here. It does seem that collected and inventoried weapons however do reflect numeric or categoric markings, such as found in the Bikaner weapons.

The 'umbrella' marking or stamp sometimes seen on Indian blades it seems generally held to signify 'royalty' or high rank, and the examples seen seem to hold somewhat similar connotation as the trisula stamps, despite the elusive nature of that connotation.

As always, it would be great to hear more ideas on these stamps and on thier possible meaning, as well as thoughts on the armoury concept. Would armouries have had makers to produce thier own weapons, or would they have used such a stamp to approve the quality or acceptance of the weapon ( such as the 'proof' marks on regulation weapons)?
What about the katar stamp? Could that designate this a Kattee weapon? Would the stamp have been added later subordinate to the 'quality' or symbolic trisula?

Hoping to hear more :)

All the best,

Jens Nordlunde 23rd June 2007 01:26 PM

Hi Jim,

To be able to start qualified guessing, we would need a lot of pictures of tulwars with these markings on the blades and detailed pictures of the marks, or alternatively know someone who has seen a lot of these blades. When these pictures are compared, we may have learned enough to start pointing in a direction. The marks Alex has shown are both very deep, and I would like to know if marks this deep were made while the blade was made, or if they could have been made afterwards. If a mark that deep could have been made afterwards, and if we believe them to be armoury marks, these marks could be from two different armouries, or maybe like you suggests a quality mark and an armoury mark, or maybe they are talismanic marks - but so far we are guessing. These marks are seen now and again, but not very often, so to gather a lot of pictures would at the best be difficult, and could only be done with the help of a lot of collectors.

I have a correction to you comment about the known armoury marks. It is true that we know the Bikaner mark, but we also know the one from Kishanghar, and the one from Alwar/Ulwar. Perhaps someone on the forum knows some more.


dralin23 23rd June 2007 02:34 PM

hi alex
please show me the complete sword blade!! (if you could :) ). i bought for one year also an indian sword( i don´t know if it is an khanda ore rather an patissa sword) with exactly the same stamps at the surface.i will make for you some pic, than can you see it and maybe someone from the sword forum can tell me what a kind of sword it is? you can find also such stamps at an khanda sword at the web site from gnwtc( great noth west trading company) in america. i think it was in the sword room 3 ore 4.
please forgive my terrible english, but my last lesson was nearby 30 years ago, and now is the way from my head to the fingers so long :D :D
best wishes,

Jim McDougall 23rd June 2007 03:31 PM

Hi Jens,
Just as you have noted, that is the exact course we must follow, and with any luck there may be collectors and readers out there who either hold weapons with like markings or have seen them in references outside those we have. I am unclear as well on whether these deep stamps can only be applied at original forging of blade, or if they can be added later. I know that to some degree stamps can be applied cold, but as you have noted they do not seem as deep.

Thank you for the correction on the scope of armoury marks, and I had forgotten our discussions that included the other two we are aware of, Kishangar and Ulwar....would it be possible to see examples of those. It would be good to have those shown here as well in hopes of response from others that may know or have seen them.

I think it would be well to understand better the terms armoury and arsenal. I am somewhat unclear at the application of the terms. It seems the two terms are used somewhat interchangeably. By dictionary definition, both are described as storage places for weapons and war equipment, however the term 'arsenal' seems to expand more by including in its definition "...a factory for manufacturing military equipment or munitions".

I think it would be helpful to better understand the geo-political structure in historical periods in India during the periods our weapons of study were produced. It would seem of course that some were large cohesive states or provinces while in many regions small kingdom type units were somewhat collectively ruled. Clearly the larger established regions such as noted with Bikaner would have firmly established arsenals, while the smaller kingdoms ( perhaps not the correct term) would rely on either weapons furnished by allied entities or most likely by captured and privately held arms. While the ruler in whichever appropriate capacity may have had a small private armoury, there would probably have not been a firmly established arsenal.

Obviously my historical grasp of India's geo-politics and the structure of its states or provinces is superficial at best, and I would very much appreciate a concise overview, but my point was to establish guidelines for a categoric search for either arsenals or armouries in India. Our goal is of course to see if it would be possible to catalog corresponding markings found on the weapons.

If you could again show those markings from Kishangar and Ulwar, and if possible the Bikaner style markings, we could use those as a base to move forward from here. Also, I have forgotten on the umbrella marking (seen on I think example in Figiel), whether that may fall into the same category as these trisula.

All very best regards,

Jim McDougall 23rd June 2007 03:45 PM

Hi Dralin23,
Very glad to see you posting here!!! :) and welcome to the forum!
No need to apologize for your're doing great and have explained your questions well. I am interested in your note that you saw this marking on some other website, and especially if it was on a khanda. Was this a reproduction weapon location?
Can you say more on the marking and weapon you saw ?

I agree it would be good to see the overall weapon you have posted, could you show the whole sword.

All the best,

Jens Nordlunde 23rd June 2007 03:56 PM

Hi Stefan,

Welcome to the forum:). Yes you are right, there is a trisula mark on the khanda. The mark is not as deep as the one Alex shows, but it is there.

Hi Jim,

I will comment on the armoury marks and a few other things, but I will take it to a thread of its own.


Jim McDougall 23rd June 2007 05:41 PM

Hi Jens,
Outstanding idea! :)
This is an extremely interesting topic and one that I know has been key in many of our discussions over time.

All the best,

ALEX 26th June 2007 12:47 PM

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First, thank you for sharing your research and creating a separate post with more information. Good idea and very well done too.

welcome to the Forum. Below I post more pictures of the blade. It is still in a sad shape, but it's much better than it was before:-)
I suspect this blade is a regular/standard tulwar blade, UNLESS the rare combination of two stamps makes it special:-)

Jens Nordlunde 26th June 2007 01:42 PM

Alex, thank you for the nice words, and thank you for the pictures, which adds to the size of the puzzle, as this blade had a shamshir hilt and not a tulwar hilt – just have a look at the form of the tang. Should I guess; then this is a shamshir made for a Hindu, due to the stamps, and this makes it a rare piece. To see one of the stamps is rare, but to see both stamps is even rarer. I asked a friend, who has seen more Indian blades than I will ever see. He did not know what the marks mean, but he said that he has seen the trisula about a dozen times, and the katar three to four times.

ALEX 26th June 2007 01:55 PM

Jens, thanks again for your comments. I think the blade was originally of a tulwar. Later it has been re-maked into a shamshir. The metal shamshir hilt core it crudely welded to the blade, so I think it is not an original hilt core.
I have several spare Indian steel hilts, so I think I'll make it a tulwar again:-)

Jim McDougall 26th June 2007 03:25 PM

Interesting ! Especially to see a new tang crudely welded to the blade.

spiral 26th June 2007 09:41 PM

Heres another one recently discused.

Ashoka Arts also recently had a spiecimien with the double stamps. now sold.


dralin23 27th June 2007 08:39 PM

blade stamps
hi all
i got thes one sword from ashoka arts withthe two stamps.
i send you in the next post the pictures from the blade.
it is also an deep stamp from an katar ans an trident.. i think it is nearby the same like these from alex.

dralin23 27th June 2007 08:56 PM

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i hope the pictures are good enough!!

dralin23 29th June 2007 11:12 PM

hi all
so what think you is it an khanda ore more an patissa sword? the blade is verry havy single edged with no ricasso. my opinion is that these sword is very unpracticable for fight in an battle. an khanda is light an quickly in an battle but thes sword is so havy an the people from these time wasn´t so big an strong like today. maybe it is an execution sword???
please tell me your opinion!!

Jens Nordlunde 20th December 2015 03:33 PM

Did you see this thread? Showing the same stamps as on your blade.

ALEX 21st December 2015 05:52 PM

I missed it indeed. Thank you for reminding. The stamps are the same, including their positions on the blade. Good to see the same combination likely from the same armoury/maker.

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