EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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.