Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thanks Ariel, I had forgotten that excellent work! and you are right, this 'half guard element along with the beading or scalloping (not sure of proper term) seems well known in Deccani edged weapon hilts.
As Kubur has noted, it is seen on 'chilanum' as a 'half guard' as well (illustration added).
I agree with you that the European influence would appear unlikely as this type of guard did not appear until late 18th century, and then in limited instances such as the court swords I mentioned.
In Elgood's article on the Deccan, a khanda of late 16th c. with similar decorative motif as well as a tegha of late 17th, suggest that the style existed there well prior to the European forms I suggested.
It seems the chilanum form, according to the Bijapur manuscript of the 'Nujum al Alam/ (1570) existed at least that early, but of course the frequency of this style decoration or the half guard is unclear.
In the example of chilanum illustrated, the holes along the scalloped edge can be seen also. It appears that as often the case in Indian arms either hilt styles or perhaps actual hilts were often transferred to full size sword blades.
In this case, the 'half guard' element seems amalgamated with a tulwar hilt, primarily a Mughal weapon style.
At the Siege of Adoni (1689) many Deccani weapons were captured and taken by the Mughals, and many ended up in the armory at Junargarh Fort in Bikaner.
Perhaps this tulwar was a product of such joining of styles, recalling the Deccani hilt forms. This example shows remarkable age, but is in iron rather than the brass or yellow metal preferred in Deccan, and as noted, is basically the Indo Persian style tulwar hilt of regions to the north. Obviously there are exceptions, but the Indo Persian tulwar is typically regarded as from north of the Deccan.
It is also tempting, given the character of the blade on this example, to consider that perhaps it may be a German hanger blade of 17th c which were among those traded to Marathas in latter 17th. It does seem to carry similar back fuller style, later imitated by Birmingham swordsmiths from examples they imported in early to mid 18th c.