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Old 14th October 2017, 01:58 AM   #1
Aslan Paladin
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Default Is This A Pala With An Indian Blade?

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.
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Old 14th October 2017, 02:01 AM   #2
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Here it is as compared to my early version kilij which is also rough-looking.
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Old 14th October 2017, 02:12 PM   #3
Jens Nordlunde
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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?
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Old 14th October 2017, 03:22 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 14th October 2017, 03:29 PM   #5
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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...
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Old 17th October 2017, 04:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
The whole sword may be Indian since the hilt is also quite different fom the classic Kilij hilts...


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.

Last edited by Aslan Paladin : 17th October 2017 at 04:38 AM.
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Old 17th October 2017, 06:13 AM   #7
Jim McDougall
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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.
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Old 14th October 2017, 03:56 PM   #8
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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?
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Old 14th October 2017, 04:59 PM   #9
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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
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Old 14th October 2017, 08:30 PM   #10
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Images of the hilt and blade connection. The adhesive seems to be a blackish-brown resin of some sort.
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Old 14th October 2017, 08:37 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 14th October 2017, 09:00 PM   #12
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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).
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Old 16th October 2017, 03:51 PM   #13
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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.

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