EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Norman, not only is this a superb example tulwar, but this triad of them is to me a quintessant grouping of excellent fighting tulwars! You have also presented them perfectly showing good hilt views as well as lower half blade views, and best of all included a view of the pommel dish top. While typically through the years tulwars have been observed wholly and usually without any note of these pommel dish features. It was Jens some years ago who noted this apparant oversight, and saw the interesting and possibly important variation in the features and motif in these, and began cataloguing the pommel caps along with other views.
While there are really no definitive classifications for tulwar hilts that may be categorically applied, there are some reasonably reliable guidelines which can establish some degree of identifying description. These are best used with careful consideration of various features, decoration and comparison with other provenanced and catalogued examples. I have spent a little time going through notes and some references very much inspired by these three outstanding sabres.
The first on the left, is what I would consider from northwestern regions from Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab and notable is the fixture at the center of the chowk of the guard which seems typically found on tulwars which have had similar features to Afghan paluoars. The flueret (palmette) quillon terminals are often regarded as Mughal or Deccani features, but they seem as well to be found on some tulwars regarded as Talpuri (from Sindh).
The second and center tulwar is of the type typically regarded from Pant's classification as Udaipuri (Rajasthan) and often the thin wheeled quillon terminals have been stated 19th century. It should be noted that while many of these may be 19th century, they are simply more modern versions of the form which existed in the 18th century, possibly earlier.
Your newly acquired example with knuckleguard seems clearly Mughal and corresponds to hilt forms of the latter 17th century. The domed quillon guards are considered Ottoman affectations, as would be the stylized dragon or makara head.
While the Mughals were highly influenced by Persia, there were strong infusions of Ottoman culture as well in the 17th century.
The blade on this tulwar has the pronounced yelman of Ottoman influence and again corresponds to similar blades of the 17th century, with these used into the 18th. The other two examples have much more subtly integrated yelmans in the widened tip very much like other Central Asian shamshirs of the 17th century.
The unwritten axiom is that the heavier blades tend to be earlier, and I would say all three of these reflect earlier dates from latter 17th into 18th, with the newer acquisition earliest of the three. The other two more toward end of the 18th in my opinion.
I think the 'tegha' term is less than useful and so vaguely described in most sources it's actual application is questionable. Most of the swords I have seen with the term used have been excessively broad bladed and often regarded as 'executioner' swords. These however are likely in most cases of ceremonial or bearing type use.