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rand 29th October 2016 01:10 PM

"A Passion for Indian Arms" Book Review
"A Passion for Indian Arms" -Book Review
by Jens Norlunde

The first thing you notice on this long anticipated book is the quality of the paper, you feel the smoothness of its surface when you first touch it. The second thing you notice is that it is a 9"x12" hefty paper back book, this type binding makes the book open slightly better and makes it a little easier to handle when reading. Then you open the book to see high quality print photo's of Indian arms displayed in a page by page sequence with entire weapon, close-ups of important features, measurements and also references with author, book and page numbers shown.

The arms in this book are extremely well researched and arranged in a systematic sequence that makes it easy to follow time periods for objects discussed. There is a depth of understanding evident in the writing that satisfies even the most advanced research. Anyone with an interest in Indian arms or art will enjoy reading this book and become one of those "go to" reference books. There are 100 copies printed so availability will be limited. My perspective for this book is that there will only be as many great libraries on Indian arms as have a copy of this book.

Well done Jens Norlunde and thank you for creating this well crafted important book!

rand milam

Jim McDougall 29th October 2016 05:49 PM

Beautifully written review and description of Jens' extremely important reference Rand!
Thank you so much for posting this.

Lee 29th October 2016 06:24 PM

A preliminary view - recommended
I have only had the book for a few days, but I am most pleased to have added it to my library. I already had a number of books on Indian arms, but so very often they remain very general in their descriptions and inadequate in the number and or quality of the illustrations (usually just reflecting publishing standards of the times when they were published rather than author's sloth). Jens' book delights in that he includes multiple detailed images for each item along with a coherent description including details such as dimensions, provenance, references and believable dating. I will also opine that another strength of the book is that of the excellence of the collection it depicts; usually what I will describe mostly as the top end of what was attainable to a very serious modern collector in the last fifty years.

The book starts out with three essays:
How Old is the Katar?
Saadat Khan Bahadur, the First Nawab of Oudh
Royal Katars of Bundi

These are followed by the collection's catalog in four main sections:
Daggers, Katars, Swords and Miscellaneous

Total pages: 368

mariusgmioc 29th October 2016 07:02 PM

Excellent reference book but...

... only 100 copies... :(

ariel 29th October 2016 07:40 PM

I promised to let the Forumites know what I thought about the book and gave myself a weekend. Well, I overestimated myself.....

The more I read it, the more I understand how complex it is. I thought ( naively, as I found after an hour of reading) that I knew enough about the topic just to brush on my enjoyment of Indian arms. But in fact I got stumped at the very beginning.

Jens knows so much that the book is far too short to explain every nuance he takes as a given.

This is not a book for a novice. There are so many hints, insights and hidden nuggets of knowledge that a thorough understanding of the material requires years of immersion into the topic, in addition to careful reading, re-assessment of other items, consulting other sources and just sober acceptance of the fact that the author knows infinitely more than the reader like myself can imagine. How does he attribute and date the weapons? How does he know the meaning of decorations? How does he differentiate between Rajput and Mughal tulwars, not even talking about Deccani ones? The short descriptions give just hints, but I have to study a lot to figure it out....

This is not a book to be casually read and enjoyed for the pictures. It ain't no coffee table album. This book needs to be studied, and studied hard.

It is not a good book. It is a great book: it forces you to learn more.
My hat is off to Jens.

rand 29th October 2016 09:50 PM

Passion for Indian Arms
This is one of those rare books on Indian arms and armor that you want to read a few pages at a time and really enjoy. I remember when Elgood's book on Islamic Arms and Armor first came out in 1979 and was $175, it was a covered book at that time. Jen's book is that level of scholarship and beyond, with more pages, more photo's and in color, with page after page of pertinent information that will both educate and entertain. And in 2016, it is 120 BPS, thats a bargain.

When this book go's out of print it will be eye opening to see what its value is the.

Can you tell I like this book? And recommend you get a copy or two soon.


Jim McDougall 30th October 2016 12:36 AM

Actually Ariel, you did get the sum of importance of this book, which is actually a catalog of his private collection, and was not intended as a reference book. That is, the very nature of Indian arms, which is indeed wrought with nuance, deep symbolism, and aspects of cultural importance which are held in comprehensive study of the cultures there.

As seen in the post by Jens just this last week, asking for others to join in to discover more on the meanings and symbolism in the floral imagery on tulwars, and for that matter katars as well. The complexity and deeply nuanced nature of these arms has long been too formidable for most collectors and scholars to pursue comprehensively to offer the kind of answers so often asked regarding various weapon forms.

It is a very short run issue as it is as indicated a catalog. However it is of one of the world class collections of Indian arms, specifically tulwars and katars mostly, and these examples will set the benchmark to pace the developing interest in the study of these weapons.

Jens Nordlunde 30th October 2016 10:07 AM

Thank you very much for the kind reviews.

We all discuss/write about a subject from the level where we are at the moment, and so have I. Maybe in five or ten years, if I live that long, I would write some of the texts differently, but I do hope the texts can be read, and understood, by someone on different levels - that was the intention.
If you knowledge is not yet so big, you can read the text, look at the pictures, and say, 'so, that is what a Deccani tulwar looked like, could have looked like, at the time'. If your knowledge is bigger, you may find hints in the texts, which others may not see. Hints, which hopefully will make you take up the challange, and start your own research.

To research Indian weapons can be relatively easy, or it can be very hard work, depending on how deep you will take your research, but when you find bits and pieces the reward is big.


ariel 30th October 2016 05:12 PM

Order this book ASAP while it is still available.

And, I would hate to see it limited to 100 copies. Hopefully, when the existing supply is exhausted, Jens and the publisher can print more and we can spread the word .

It should not be limited to big museums and our own private libraries. It is an indispensable source of explaining and understanding Indian arms.

Perhaps, in the "second edition" Jens could add a chapter on general principles of classification, typology and dating for less sophisticated readers like myself and hundreds more like me. He knows far too much to be allowed not giving a "master class":-)

Jens Nordlunde 31st October 2016 04:55 PM

There will be a slight delay of delivery, as the seller at first did not want to store all the books, and the first delivery is sold, but the next is on its way, and should be ready for delivery within a week.

Jerseyman 1st November 2016 07:21 PM

Pleased to say that I have my copy, and even happier to say that it is worth every penny. Kudos on the quality of the photography Jens. And as others have already said, better than I ever could, a volume of knowledge that will repay study in depth.

I particularly like Ariel's suggestion - perhaps you might consider writing something along those lines anyway Jens? As a stand-alone essay? I'm sure many of us would be more than interested.

Again, great book - a good job, well done.

Jens Nordlunde 2nd November 2016 04:28 PM

Than you very much for the nice reviews, which have surprised me.

When I wanted to make a catalogue, it was meant for a few friends, myself and for the insurance firm, for documentation to prove that the weapos had been in my collection.
Later I was asked to print some for sale as well, and I found that 100 copies would be enough.
Should these 100 copies be sold, I dont know if I will print further copies, but if I do, they will look different, so no one will be in doubt which is the first and which is the second edition.

It was from the start clear to me, that a catalogue should have more than a few lines of text to every weapon, and it was also clear, that showing the whole weapon and the hilt was not enough - details should be shown, as only then the collector/reader can get an idea of the weapon.
You could ask, why this detail and not another one, and I cant give you a very good answer, but the details shown are details, which I find important. To this comes the number of pages, should there have been more details and longer texts, the book would have been very thick, or have to be divided into two volumes.

Ariel and Jersyman have asked for a 'key' to it all. I am afraid that I can't give you a 'key', and even if I could, it may make you more confused. You will have to study further yourself to find it. Like hands on, museums, private collections if possible, reading, miniatures and so on. I am sure you will see the light on the way of your journy, and should it not, you will have learned a lot more about Indian weapons and Indian history.


Richard Furrer 3rd November 2016 01:19 AM

I have been away for bit and very happy to hear of this publication.

I look forward to my copy. Do you suggest any other books?
Any other titles I may have missed of late?


Jens Nordlunde 3rd November 2016 03:42 PM

Hi Ric,

I hope you will like the book when you get it, as it has taken me a very long time to make it.

I dont know of any new books, although I am sure there must be some. I have of lately slowed down buying weapons and books, due to space problems, so we are close to the point where we have to say one book/weapon bought one of the old ones have to go. It is a strange situation to be in, and I dont like it much, but like Jonathan Barrett says - a collector never stops collecting. Clever words I would say.

Jens Nordlunde 6th November 2016 05:19 PM

One sword was missing in my catalogue, but thanks to the helf of Lee you can find it here
Thank you Lee for your help.

mariusgmioc 6th November 2016 07:42 PM

Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
One sword was missing in my catalogue, but thanks to the helf of Lee you can find it here
Thank you Lee for your help.

Another reason for a second edition!

That's a magnificent sword. Thank you Jens for sharing it with us.

But isn't the term "Firangi" refering to an Indian made sword with a European blade?! :shrug:

Jens Nordlunde 6th November 2016 08:05 PM

Hi Marius:-),

Yes it most certainly is, but along the line the name got stuck, even if the blades were of Indian manufacture like this one. If you choose you can also call it something else.
What I would like to point out is, the way the hilt has been decorated. You should be aware of, that many old hilts were redecorated. Thick gold recoration removed, and a koftgari decoration added. Either to get the gold, or due to new fashion. See pp. 77-78 in the catalogue.

Jim McDougall 6th November 2016 08:09 PM

Well noted Marius, technically the term 'firangi' is indicative of an other than Indian blade on one of these swords, actually known in Indian dialects as 'khanda' . To carry it further, these type hilts became known as 'Hindu basket hilts' post European contact and evolved presumably influenced by European style from the old and simpler hilt 'khanda'.

The term firangi does typically allude to a European blade, however, in its more broad use as 'foreign' can refer to any blade from foreign source outside India, including Persia, Middle East etc.

The firangi term has become a colloquialism for these swords among collectors in the broader sense as well, beyond these technicalities.

Sorry Jens, we crossed posts, just saw yours:) and I had not thought of the decoration inclusion as well.

mariusgmioc 7th November 2016 08:57 AM

Thank you Jens and Jim for your explanations!

Well, in the absence of a more accurate term, I can see the logic behind the generalisation of the Firangi term for all swords, with foreign blade or not, displaying a certain shape and characteristics. Yes, maybe the sword can also be called a Khanda, but then the term "Khanda" has become associated with the broader blades with rounded or obtuse angled tip which are iconic for the Sikh... if I am correct.

As with regards of the more recent decoration, I noticed this on many Indian blades. This practice is continued even today and quite often one can find 17 or early 18 century wootz pieces with perfectly intact koftgari decoration, that was added much more recently to increase their appeal.

However, as long as the koftgari is of quality and well executed, I consider this to be a genuine enhancement to the blade since it is part of its cultural heritage and it was traditionally practiced in the past as it is practiced now.

Jens Nordlunde 7th November 2016 01:43 PM

In most cases all of the old decoration has been removed, and a new decoration added. You will then have to judge how old the weapon is, and if the decoration is of the same age.
There are, however, cases where rests of the old decoration is still intact in small parts, and here it is easy to see that a new decoratin has been added - see catalogue pp. 77-78.

mariusgmioc 8th November 2016 08:21 AM

Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
In most cases all of the old decoration has been removed, and a new decoration added. You will then have to judge how old the weapon is, and if the decoration is of the same age.
There are, however, cases where rests of the old decoration is still intact in small parts, and here it is easy to see that a new decoratin has been added - see catalogue pp. 77-78.

I also have a couple of pieces in this cathegory (with remade/latter addes koftgari). Hope to aquire a few more! :)

Jens Nordlunde 8th November 2016 08:41 PM

I wrote, 'in most cases...', and should have written, 'in many cases...' - sorry.

Maurius I do hope you will get many Indian weapons, buth with original decorations, and with newer ones. Let me also add, that I also hope that you will research them, to find out more about their age and their origin.
Researching can often be hard work, but when you find something, the sun starts shining.

Jens Nordlunde 9th November 2016 01:16 PM

3 Attachment(s)
I was looking at the katar (cat. pp. 117-118) and thought it may be hard to see the birds between the cross bars, so I have taken sosme extra pictures showing the birds on the inside of the side guard.

mariusgmioc 10th November 2016 05:56 AM

Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
I was looking at the katar (cat. pp. 117-118) and thought it may be hard to see the birds between the cross bars, so I have taken sosme extra pictures showing the birds on the inside of the side guard.

Thank you Jens for sharing it with us!

Now, this is quite surely the original koftgari. A lovely piece! :)

Jim McDougall 10th November 2016 03:47 PM

Researching can often be hard work, but when you find something, the sun starts shining.[/QUOTE]

Spoken by a true master in researching!!! Very well said Jens:)

Oliver Pinchot 15th November 2016 12:52 AM

I congratulate Jens on a beautiful publication.
His use of a scientific methodology combined with an exceptional eye for this
esthetic results in a work we can all value... and truly learn from.

Jens Nordlunde 15th November 2016 05:13 PM

Thank you to you all for the nice words. I am really glad you like it, as it took years to do, and now that it is done, I can use more time on my big passion - the katars.
It is with Indian weapons like this, point towards a subject, and it have hardly ever been researched. Some have, but there are a lot of research to be done - please start.

digenis 17th November 2016 01:29 AM

I just received my copy of the book. Excellent in every sense of the word.

CharlesS 18th November 2016 11:30 AM

I just received mine, and am so impressed....not just "eye candy", but there is real substance here!

Thanks Jens!

Jens Nordlunde 8th December 2016 03:00 PM

I know the texts to the two Aydha Katthis in my catalogue could have been longer, but every time I tried to explain something better, the number of pages grew:-(.
Anyway, here are some further explanation's. You dont need to have the catalogue to read the links, as they are quite interesting.

Cat. pp. 224-225 is dealing with Dodda Veera Rajandra.

Cat. pp. 228-230 is dealing with Lingaraja II.

There is an unpublished article about this subject, going into detail. I have read the article, and hope it will be published soon, as it is very informative.

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