Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Is This A Pala With An Indian Blade? (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=23262)

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 01:58 AM

Is This A Pala With An Indian Blade?
 
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I obtained this sword last year which I think is an Ottoman kilij-pala with an Indian blade. It is about 30 inches in total length and has a 10-inch yelman. The blade has a maker's mark at the forte as well as a gorda mark. It is heavy and I think is probably low quality or crystalline wootz but I am not confident enough to polish and etch it properly to bring out a pattern. The handle is wood haphazardly wrapped in a black velvety cloth and I could feel underneath it unevenness which would suggest broken sections of the wooden grip and probably the grip strap as well. It is not the best looking sword but is an honest old warrior. Your comments and observations are most appreciated.

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 02:01 AM

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Here it is as compared to my early version kilij which is also rough-looking.

Jens Nordlunde 14th October 2017 02:12 PM

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It is likeely that the blade is from India with a stamp like this one.
It is difficult to see what the stamp shows, other than one of the things is a katar, but I cant see what the other thing is. Can you?

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 03:22 PM

Thank you Jens, it didn't actually occur to me that one of the symbols is a katar until you pointed it out. I have no idea what the other one is. By the way I have seen a similar blade somewhere in the forum but with a classic tulwar hilt, which convinced me that this blade is of Indian origin.

mariusgmioc 14th October 2017 03:29 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aslan Paladin
Thank you Jens, it didn't actually occur to me that one of the symbols is a katar until you pointed it out. I have no idea what the other one is. By the way I have seen a similar blade somewhere in the forum but with a classic tulwar hilt, which convinced me that this blade is of Indian origin.


The whole sword may be Indian since the hilt is also quite different fom the classic Kilij hilts... :shrug:

Jens Nordlunde 14th October 2017 03:56 PM

Did the blade you saw on the forum also have a katar stamped on the blade?
I once saw s tulwar on the forum with aa tulwar stamped onto the blade. The hilt was from Sind, but the blade could be from somewhere else.
In the western part of India(?), they swear an oath on the katar. Something along the line, should I be wrong, let the katar kill me. If the one who swor was wrong he does not kill himself, but make a scratch on the arm with the katar.
The blade looks as if it is very broad, do you think it is a tegha blade?

Kubur 14th October 2017 04:59 PM

Can you post close-ups of the hilt?
I would like to see if you have the original wrapping around the hilt.
And also show us the joint between the grips

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 08:30 PM

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Images of the hilt and blade connection. The adhesive seems to be a blackish-brown resin of some sort.

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 08:37 PM

I can't remember if the blade I saw also had the katar mark. Since I didn't recognize it was a katar it didn't leave a lasting impression on me. I thought I saved the image but I can't find it in my laptop files. I'm still skimming through the past forum threads again to find it but I am sure it is here.

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 09:00 PM

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The grip strap is plain brass with no decorative marks and the hilt is covered with a black velvet cloth secured by black string wound around numerous times in a random manner, leaving only the pommel exposed (although I did push the lower edge of the cloth back to expose a few millimeters of the body of the brass cross guard). Kubur unfortunately I don't have any other hilt wrapping which came with the sword. Jens that was also my initial thought, that the blade may have actually belonged to a tegha. But the width of the widest part of the blade (the yelman) is less than 2 inches wide, I don't know if that would qualify it as such. Maybe more of a tegha-like blade perhaps? Marius I agree with you and am open to the idea that it could have actually no Ottoman connection whatsoever since I haven't seen of any kilij with an Indian sword before and the hilt is sub par as compared to others. But on the other hand I am curious why should this apparently Indian blade be given a Turkish-style hilt by it's maker (why not a tulwar hilt which makes more sense IMHO). I don't know if it's a later marriage but as far as I can see the way the blade is secured to the hilt it does not show evidence of modern adhesive. I compared the adhesives used in the 3 Turkish-hilted swords I have and they all look the same to me. By the way when I received this sword the entire blade was covered in rust (same appearance as the remaining rust under the langets).

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 09:09 PM

I want to remove the velvet covering but I am discouraged by the thought of seeing what horror it is concealing underneath. I did take a peak underneath the edge covering the pommel and I saw part of the wooden grip just gone. So I could imagine large sections of the grip with gaps and probably the brass grip strap would have extensive losses as well. And I don't think there is anyone in town who can professionally restore the grip in case I decide to pursue that course anyway.

Jens Nordlunde 14th October 2017 09:28 PM

I dont know about the hilt, but there was in different parts of India a very big influence from Turky, Persia and Afghanistan.

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 09:51 PM

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I would assume most likely Northern India? Rajasthan? By the way I found this thread discussing the katar stamp while I was looking for the similar-bladed tulwar I mentioned earlier http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=tulwar

Kubur 14th October 2017 09:55 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aslan Paladin
I want to remove the velvet covering but I am discouraged by the thought of seeing what horror it is concealing underneath.(


Please don't remove this velvet, it's very are to have a hilt with the original wrapping!
To me it gives some value to your sword.
Here you have a wrapping around an Ottoman kilij...

Kubur 14th October 2017 09:59 PM

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To me the joint and the guard are very similar.
It's a very cool sword, maybe a tegha blade or an Afghan blade is it possible?
Look at the wrapping here...

Kubur 14th October 2017 10:05 PM

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and a final word, remember that Persians did also this kind of blade.
Here an Ottoman pala with a Persian blade.
To me your sword is Ottoman because of the hilt but with an Indo Persian blade.

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 10:11 PM

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I have tracked down the tulwar with the similar blade profile (its blade looks wider, although mine could have had several sharpening thus accounting for the slimmer look). The contour of the spine is identical, both have gorda/eye lash marks as well as maker/armoury (?) marks at the base of the blade (although not the same katar stamps). Here is the link http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=tulwar

Aslan Paladin 14th October 2017 10:22 PM

Thanks Kubur, for a moment there I was at a loss with regards to what I should call this sword given the suggestions to its origin. Anyway regardless of the right terminology I love this sword. For me it's Ottoman pala with Indo-Persian blade then as you have opined. And with regards to the velvet wrapping of the hilt, it actually lends a significant amount of comfort when I grip the handle. So I'll keep it as is (and you persuaded me with the very valid reasons you presented earlier). :)

ariel 15th October 2017 03:55 AM

What you see is not a Genoese “ jaws” or “eyelashes” and not a Caucasian “ gurda”. Besides their very specific form, they are always oriented along the blade.
Yours is a mirrored image of two groupings oriented across the blade. Each grouping has 7 dots. The Big Dipper?

ariel 15th October 2017 04:03 AM

The velvet looks far too new to be of any historical value. To me, it is an eyesore, a clumsy attempt of the seller to hide the damage to the handle.
I would not hesitate to remove it.

Victrix 15th October 2017 11:24 AM

Hi Asian Paladin,

I don’t know if this is of any significance, but I noticed that none of your Turkish hilted swords have any holes in the pommel for a wrist cord.

You may consider the possibility of carefully unravelling the velvet covering (at least partly) on the grip with the intention of putting it back again?

Regards,

Jens Nordlunde 15th October 2017 12:20 PM

Maybe this ten years old thread will be of interest.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ade+katar+stamp

A second thought. I dont own any of these blades myself, but I have seen the katar mark on three or four blades, one even with an additional trisula, and all of these stamps were very deep. This must mean that the stamps were made while the blades were hot, as I dont think such a deep stanp could be made on a cold blade.

Aslan Paladin 15th October 2017 08:30 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
What you see is not a Genoese “ jaws” or “eyelashes” and not a Caucasian “ gurda”. Besides their very specific form, they are always oriented along the blade.
Yours is a mirrored image of two groupings oriented across the blade. Each grouping has 7 dots. The Big Dipper?


Thanks for the comment Ariel. Actually I wasn't really sure if it is an eyelash mark or not but I could see some faint arcs facing each other along the length of the blade and whose ends the dots emanate from. It is not as well defined as the sickle marks of the other blade and mine has an extra pair of dots. Probably it got defaced over time. I just used the term gorda or gurda to call it for convenience (improper it may be) as I don't know what else to refer to it. I'm also curious if there is a significance to the mark on my sword having the extra two dots.

Aslan Paladin 15th October 2017 08:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
The velvet looks far too new to be of any historical value. To me, it is an eyesore, a clumsy attempt of the seller to hide the damage to the handle.
I would not hesitate to remove it.


It may have been the seller or a previous owner who put on the velvet covering. I don't think it was originally meant as part of the hilt. If the grip underneath was intact then I might think it was added for additional comfort when handling it rather than just to hide damage. As I have said earlier I don't have the time and means to have the hilt restored if I decide to remove the velvet cover. And anyway this sword is not a presentation or prestige piece that would greatly benefit from a restoration IMHO but a battle and probable provincial example that has seen extensive use (as suggested by the worn edge of the blade due to multiple sharpening and the damaged hilt). And if that is the case, I wouldn't want to alter the swords history in anyway. But I agree with you that it is not aesthetically pleasing.

Aslan Paladin 15th October 2017 09:19 PM

Victrix, the only Turkish pommeled sword in the pictured grouping that has what could pass for a hole on the pommel to accommodate a wrist cord is the one on the left side and it doesn't have a metal tube through it or a washer around it like in classic Turkish swords. I got it from Artzi of Oriental Arms some time ago and he referred to it as a Bedouin Ottoman saber or a Turkish style hilted sword with a European blade from the Bedouins of Israel, Palestine and the Sinai peninsula. Some Turkish-hilted sabers from the Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire like the Levant that I have seen do not have a hole for a wrist cord. So I would say at least the hilts of the three swords I have probably came from the eastern provinces or areas of influence of the Ottoman Empire.

Aslan Paladin 15th October 2017 09:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Maybe this ten years old thread will be of interest.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ade+katar+stamp

A second thought. I dont own any of these blades myself, but I have seen the katar mark on three or four blades, one even with an additional trisula, and all of these stamps were very deep. This must mean that the stamps were made while the blades were hot, as I dont think such a deep stanp could be made on a cold blade.


Interesting. So Jens, since that thread, has the nature of the mark been identified (A royal seal of some sort, a religious symbol, an armoury mark, a maker's mark or any of these on an individual basis) or is it still to be determined?

Jens Nordlunde 16th October 2017 03:51 PM

I dont know if the katar stamp is a smiths mark or an armoury mark, but you dont see them very often.
As they, now and again, can be seen with a trisula stamp, must be pure Hindu.
The katar was used on coins by several Indian states, but I seem to remember that especially in the western states it was used more.
The interesting thing is, that from memory, I dont think all of the katar stamps looked alike.

Aslan Paladin 17th October 2017 04:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
The whole sword may be Indian since the hilt is also quite different fom the classic Kilij hilts... :shrug:


While this is a possibility, would it be also possible that this sword combination is actually from the Eastern borders of the Ottoman Empire, Bedouin perhaps? They are known to use whatever blades are available including trade blades, although most common trade blades I've seen used are from Eastern Europe (like the Bedouin Turkish saber I own) and I haven't seen blades from India used.

Jim McDougall 17th October 2017 06:13 AM

Just to note a few things on this sabre.
It is of course an Ottoman style hilt, and the blade quite in the manner of the style known as pala in Ottoman parlance, but while an unusual pairing it is hardly uncommon to see these kinds of combinations.
What does seem certain is that the blade is of Indian production.

The placement of such cartouches in the upper quadrant of the blade near the hilt is seen on it seems a good number of blades found in tulwars as a rule. The distinctly Ottoman character of this blade, but with Indian markings and Ottoman hilt suggest profound influence obviously.

The katar symbol that Jens noted as I recall was used by the Kattee tribes in Gujerat, south of Rajasthan , and as he noted, this weapon was powerfully observed as symbolic of a man's honor. Thus oaths were sworn on them, but it is unclear whether this symbol in the cartouche would be an arsenal or other, it does not seem a makers mark as these were not used as in Europe.

I once had a heavy tulwar blade, with yelman, similar in profile but not quite to the 'pala' degree. It had a marking en cartouche in the very same spot on the blade as these 'katar' markings, however in its place were characters in Urdu, which suggests of course regions to the northwest.
In the blade center, was another cartouche, but similarly stamped in it a trisula.It was strongly suggested it was actually a tulip, another key symbol sometimes on Ottoman blades

There were clear Ottoman influences in India, though not as profoundly seen as others such as Persian, but we note that certain features of tulwars are typically regarded as Ottoman such as the quillon terminals.

Regarding the dot configurations in blade center, as noted, the arcs are faintly visible and positioned correctly for the 'sickle' marks (usually three dots at end of each arc). It was not uncommon even in North Italian use if these devices to see them in varied or multiple combinations.

The 'sickles' were one European marking often copied by Indian blade makers, as well as of course far to the north in Afghanistan, where these marks (copied) often are on blades of paluoars.
Various dot configurations are often seen on Indian blades, typically in clusters of three (trimurti?) and at strategic locations on the blade.
These and this type configuration may well be either cosmologically or talismanically intended, perhaps both. What is significant is that it is placed at blade center, which may have any number of reasons.

The hilt wrap, I think a bit garishly placed, obviously must be to cover some sort of damage. Certainly it seems worth it to examine and possibly find another more suitable remedy for an otherwise quite handsome Indian sabre.

Good points on Bedouin use of blades, and there was of course considerable trade between Arabian ports and India's Malabar coast, as well as others on the western side. Much activity into Oman was from Baluchistan, which is not far relatively in trade network terms from Gujerat, Scinde and regions now Pakistan.
Many Indian weapons entered the Arabian and Red Sea trade, and their influences as well are seen in African regions in numbers of cases. I have seen kaskara blades in tulwars, patas, and seen blades certainly from India in weapons vice versa.

Kubur 17th October 2017 07:22 AM

As always Jim you are so informative.
I agree with you there is nothing extraordinary to have an Indian blade mounted in the Ottoman empire.
But i think you are wrong about the wrap.
Most of the time collectors just rely on their visual or empirical experience.
Problem these wraps are very rare, so for collectors they don't exist!
Please show me some damaged hilts hidden under such wrap...
:)
Asian paladin you can prove me wrong and remove the wrap.
If i'm wrong i'll survive.
But if i'm right you will just reduce the interest and the value of your sword...

:(


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