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Old 25th September 2009, 07:17 PM   #1
ALEX
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Default Comparison of Decorations on Arms and non-Arms Objects

Here are two examples of similar decorations on arms and non-arms objects. The first is 17th Century Safavid bowl with inscriptions in thuluth: a call to God to bless the Fourteen Innocents. Next to it - the 19th Century Indian blade with the same script/ inscription. On the right - the Qajar steel dagger and ewer showing very similar floral decorations. I am sure there are more references to differend decorations and similarities between different objects. Would be interesting to see more of them.
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Old 26th September 2009, 03:00 PM   #2
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Alex,

I find this thread very fascinating, but to be of real value it should be made a sticker or it will disappear within a short wile.

I hope the moderators agree with me, as information’s of this kind will be dropping in now and again, and not be written within the next week or so.

Few collectors ‘attack’ their research like you do, which, to my opinion, is the only way to do it, as other objects than weapons often are better documented and to be found in a greater number.

I don’t have many objects from India other than my collection, but I do have a number of books showing Indian art other than weapons. I will see what I can dig up, and hope the moderators will help.

Jens
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Old 26th September 2009, 06:20 PM   #3
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This is a great thread, I hope we will see plenty of replies here as this is indeed a big area for discussion.
I'll be taking some pictures later.

EDIT: +1 vote for sticky


A great opportunity for discussion of the art and decoration of so many weapons!! Japanese, Indian, Arabic......

Last edited by Atlantia : 27th September 2009 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 27th September 2009, 12:50 AM   #4
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As Jens has very astutely observed, the true study of the history of weapons is not just in the books written on weapons themselves, but particularly in arts, crafts and all forms of material culture of the cultures who used them.

This is the absolute beauty of the study of historical weapons, in that they are often icons reflecting important elements and changes in the cultures overall, as well as beliefs and traditions in the decorative motifs.

Thank you Alex for posting this excellent topic, and moving to permanent status is indeed a great idea.
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Old 27th September 2009, 10:42 AM   #5
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well gentlemen. I thought I'd make my first submission to this thread a start of the rather large area of Indian foliate designs.
The 'Foliage and flowers' pattern is popular throughout India and features on a huge variety of weapons and metalwork.
I thought I'd start with one of the most recognisable versions of it, the Kashmiri rosette.
Here is a composite picture of three non-weapon items, the top is a silver bowl, the pattern is (IMHO) classic form and the bowl itself is also in the shape of a rosette when you look down on it. The second is a large 2' copper charger depicting the love story of Krishna and Radha, the entire background is the rosette pattern again, but a little cruder than the silver bowl. Thirdly, my beloved copper Hamsa bird, which has a 'skin' tattooed with a more stylised version of the pattern, but I do still think its from Kashmir (Unless you know better?)
Hopefully if we all contribute, this thread will be a great 'resource' for helping identify weapons specific regions from their decorative styles.


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Old 27th September 2009, 11:44 AM   #6
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On the first picture you see a huqqa (Zebrowski, 1997, p. 65) and a hilt. On top of the huqqa the decoration is the same as on top of the grip. These decorations are (Stronge, 1985, pp. 56-57) palmetto leaves.

About the huqqa Zebrowski writes, that he was tempted to assign the huqqa to the 17th century, but due to the female figures wearing dresses and strike the pose of Mewar portraits of the early 18th century, the huqqa can’t be 17th century. This means that the decoration with palmetto leaves goes further back that the early 18th century. So all we have on the hilt so far is the palmetto decoration and a possible place of origin – but no proof.

Further research will show if, when and where this decoration was used. A good place to start could be to dig into which clan or sub clan the rulers from Mewar came, and look rulers of the same clan/sub clan in the other states of Rajasthan.

On the other picture is a salver shown with the same kind of decoration; here the place of origin is given to Deccan(?)

Mark Zebrowski: Gold, silver & Bronze from Mughal India. 1997.

Susan Stronge: Bidri Ware. V&A Museum, 1985.
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Old 27th September 2009, 09:11 PM   #7
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Jens, here is another palmetto pattern on a carved ivory handle of 18th Century Mughal dagger. Also, have you noticed that Atlantia's Kashmiri bowl above shows the same leaves?
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Old 27th September 2009, 09:20 PM   #8
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A few examples of Turkish silver fittings and similar technique on other silver objects. The niello on a last scabbard matches the Van niello work on a cigarette case.
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Old 28th September 2009, 01:06 PM   #9
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Alex, interesting examples you show, but does the book give any explanation of what the decoration represent, what kind of flowers are shown an so on?
Hers is another one, I don't know what kind of leaf it is, but it could be a palm leave. In Figiels auction catalogue there is a tolwar with a hilt decoration like this one.
Jens
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Old 29th September 2009, 12:03 AM   #10
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Excellent work guys!!! These motifs definitely show important consistancies, and present distinct possibilities of aligning some potential regional preferences in these hilts.
I agree this should be placed in 'sticky' position in hopes of pursuing these motifs and comparisons further, please continue!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 29th September 2009, 03:07 PM   #11
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Thank you Jim for making this thread a sticker.

I hope that others will join with their knowledge, so the thread will be a place where collectors interested in Indian weapons can go and learn from what we have found out.

I have written an article on Bundi katars, which will be published in South Asian Studies Journal no 25 in November. Those of you interested in katars can get the Journal, and hopefully enjoy the article. Here is the link to South Asian Studies http://www.basas.org.uk/journal.htm
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Old 30th September 2009, 05:10 PM   #12
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Hi all,
I know I'm 'expanding' this discussion a little and I hope Alex will forgive me for this little 'aside'?
We have on occasion discussed fittings, scabbard mounts, incised designs etc, and conjectured on how they were produced.
With that in mind, I would like to share (again) my favourite Qajar style Persian bronze tray (which seems fitting in Alex thread as he has helped me so much in understanding it).

We know that this tray was produced in Isfahan in 1895. The style and quality wouldn't look out of place significantly earlier than that though.
Anyway, keep reading, my reasons will hopefully become clear...





Then, if you turn the tray over, on the undecorated back, there are clear signs of the beginnings of a different design, presumably abandoned in favour of this one.
Why is this interesting?
Because it was being 'drawn' in tiny hammered dots from a sharp needle/point.
Which led me back to the 'face' side and sure enough, in a few places you can see where lines have cut through lines of these tiny dots.
I know this isn't an 'earth shattering' revelation, but it does answer a few questions for me, and I hope others will be interested in how some of this metalwork was actually produced.

Please excuse the pictures of these 'dot' patterns, they are quite indistinct under the patina and I've had to alter the contrast etc, to show them a little more clearly.





Presumably, this is the same method (or one of the favoured ones) for producing similar quality designs in silver etc, I wonder if it was used on steel?

I always assumed that these designs would have been drawn onto the metal with something like engravers blue, then chiseled straight into the metal.
If you look at the picture showing the bird outline, there are around 150/200 dots in just that one tiny element. Estimate/multiply that to the smaller 3" picture of the front side, even with basic outlines it would be several thousand dots, which would equate to (by my estimate) well over 100,000 across the whole tray.
And thats before the engraver even started to 'join the dots' and cut in the detail.
Even a small area such as would be needed for a scabbard mount, or a simpler design cut into the harder steel of a helmet would be an incredibly time consuming process.
Which started me wondering if the engraver had a mechanical tool of some sort with a vibrating point?

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Old 1st October 2009, 02:51 PM   #13
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I think this thread belongs here as well, so before it gets lost - here it is http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=Salumbar
G. N. Pant's name is mentioned now and again, but although I have some of his books, I am not too happy to quote him. The reason for this is, that he, too often writes a name of a hilt, like 'Udaipur hilt', but he does not explain why he thinks it is from Udaipur. The use of this diamond shaped hilt was widely spread, but although he had access to all the armouries due to his job, he does not even give a hint, so you either have to believe what he writes, or put a question mark.
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Old 16th December 2009, 06:47 PM   #14
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Like I said, on this thread the information’s will be dripping in. Sometimes there will be long between the ‘drippings’ and sometimes not so long, but I feel sure that we will gather important information’s.

The zigzag design was used all over India, like it was in many other countries – through many centuries, but sometimes you find something, wich combines the designs, and I think I have found this in Deccan.

Zebrowski, Mark: Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India. Alexandria Press, London 1997. Shows a plate from the 17th century, and on the hilt of my tulwar the same design is shown. Zebrowski does not only say it is from Deccan, he also says it is from Bidar – the hart of Bidri ware. The hilt is not bidri, but it has the same design, so it is likely to come from the same district.

I don’t think the hilt is 17th century, maybe rather 18th century, but the design is the same.
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Old 18th December 2009, 06:51 PM   #15
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This is very interesting, Jens
The zigzag is a common Indian pattern indeed. It is also called Chevron pattern. There are vast examples of Chevron pattern including textiles, tiles, architecture, metalwork... in a variety of cultures: Persian, Ottoman, etc. Note the famous Indian Chevron pattern-weld pattern, for example. Presumably, it is a symbol of water, stemming from the double chevron hieroglyph of the old Egyptian civilization!
Here is another sample of Chevron/Zigzag decorations on Indian fittings, I think of late 19th Century:
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Old 28th April 2010, 05:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Alex, interesting examples you show, but does the book give any explanation of what the decoration represent, what kind of flowers are shown an so on?
Hers is another one, I don't know what kind of leaf it is, but it could be a palm leave. In Figiels auction catalogue there is a tolwar with a hilt decoration like this one.
Jens


Jens, unfortunately the books on arms do not provide the same level of details and references as books on other areas of Islamic/Indian Arts. More material can be found in books on architecture, textile, tiles, etc. and much information can be drawn from them and applied to arms decoration. Let me venture one example:

Attached image is of Indian, 18th Century carved sandstone column base with stylised and overlapping acanthus leaves.

The shoulder is decorated with large lotus petals. Their simple and generous proportions contrasting with the intricacy of the acanthus leaves below. The column base is surmounted by an eight-petalled floral dais.

The carving in yellow sandstone and the design of this column base are characteristic of the Rajasthani city of Jaisalmer, a city of mystic beauty enclosed within the walls of an exterior fortress with ninety-nine projecting bastions. Built by Jaisal in the twelfth century, it includes a palace and various groups of residences, all characterised by balconies, windows and entrances carved so exquisitely as to form a true jewel of Rajput craftsmanship.

References:
1. Bianca Maria Alfieri, Islamic Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, 2000, p. 286 and the photograph on p. 284 in which Alfieri illustrates the balconies, windows and carved decoration characteristic of the style of Jaisalmer with its many contrasting tiers carved with a multiplicity of designs as seen on this column base.
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Old 30th June 2010, 03:56 AM   #17
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Some comparison between the decoration and manufacturing techniques of yataghans and women ornaments collected in Bulgaria. Also included a barrel band from an old Bulgarian rifle. Many thanks to my friend, who provided the images.
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Old 2nd July 2010, 08:52 PM   #18
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Hi Alex,

Yes the chevron and the acanthus designs are both very interesting and were used a lot.

Building decorations, textiles, miniatures and many other daily things should be used to find the sources to the weapon decoration.

This, together with a lot of other things, will, if can cope with it all, give you a reasonable idea about from where the weapon may origin.

Happy hunting

Jens
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Old 7th July 2010, 07:03 AM   #19
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I have a curious dagger which was discussed here (please scroll down a bit to see it) :
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=5784

The most interesting part of it is a stamped upper mount of the scabbard, which depicts three women. All parts fit to each other perfectly and look like they were put together a very long time ago. The seller told me that this dagger was the part of a private German collection put together at the beginning of the 20th century.

Yesterday I seem to have found the key to the mystery, where this dagger was made (or at least put together)! Take a look at the picture of the Hindu silver amulet from the northern India, rural Himachal Pradesh. These amulets are very typical for this region and appear only there, so I am pretty sure that the dagger originated there too!

These amulets depict in a very distinctive manner three figures, side by side, wearing full skirts, and 3-lobed hats or crowns. It is a traditional folk image representing the Mother Goddess (Hoi Mata) as a trinity. Hoi Mata presides over the well being of the family in the local folk beliefs. (Sources: Oppi Untracht “Traditional Jewelry Of India”, Google :-)
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Old 7th July 2010, 08:42 AM   #20
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Great stuff. It might still be Kalash an hindu island in Chitral? The work on the handle is very much "Khyber style" for want of better words.
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Old 7th July 2010, 09:41 AM   #21
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Tim, I have looked for Kalash information in Wiki, and they have some women godesses too, but unfortunately I have found no images or descriptions of them... Kalash live "between" the Himachal Pradesh and Afghanistan, so it is still possible that the dagger was assembled there
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Old 7th July 2010, 03:02 PM   #22
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Tatyana – very well done.

In this Memory Game called collecting it is always exciting to find a ‘new’ part – thank you for showing it.

I think there can be little doubt that you have found the place of origin for your dagger – congratulations.

Jens
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Old 7th July 2010, 06:46 PM   #23
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Thank you Jens
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Old 7th July 2010, 09:57 PM   #24
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Hi Tatiana, great discovery, although it would be great to know if it is from the Kalash region.
By the way Tim, Kalash are not a "hindu island", they are pagans, and their religion relates in a part with ancient Greek religion, as well as some words in their language.
Below is an interesting article about Kalash:

http://www.sott.net/articles/show/2...From-Extinction
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Old 8th July 2010, 05:50 PM   #25
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Some more stuff on Kafirs, Pagans in the area. They may not be Hindus but I would bet that elements of Hinduism are in the mix. From "The Aboriginal Tribes of India" Stephen Fuchs 1975.
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Old 11th July 2010, 05:48 PM   #26
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I have forgotten to mention, that these amulets were made in the end of 19th - beginning of the 20th century. So it is quite easy to date the dagger too...
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Old 17th July 2010, 05:17 AM   #27
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Default A blast from the past

Here is a relevant discussion posted but Jens some time back.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...&highlight=sikh

I am sure there are many other threads worth posting here, if you find them, drop them in.

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Old 9th November 2011, 01:48 PM   #28
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Salaams all,
It is difficult to allocate importance to one thread or another, however, I believe this sticky is a vital and extremely relevant addition. Im puzzled that it has squillions of hits but only a few trusted stalwarts adding letters. I for one will be adding lots of stuff here since it is the ideal vehicle to record millions of useful decorative techniques.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 4th December 2011, 01:02 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams all,
It is difficult to allocate importance to one thread or another, however, I believe this sticky is a vital and extremely relevant addition. Im puzzled that it has squillions of hits but only a few trusted stalwarts adding letters. I for one will be adding lots of stuff here since it is the ideal vehicle to record millions of useful decorative techniques.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.



Salaams all ~

I have given this some thought and the more thought I give it the bigger becomes the potential for a very full document indeed ! I would suggest that the scope even only considering Islamic and Indian techniques and patterns is huge so that it should be in separate sections in no particular order viz;
1. Ceramics and Glass.
2. Caligraphy.
3. Metalwork (non arms).
4. Woodcarving and stonecarving.
5. Weaving, Rugs, Flatweaves, Needlework and Costumes.
6. Jewelery.
7. Arms.

Therefor I call upon moderator support for what could be a superb multi faceted resource.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 4th December 2011, 02:52 PM   #30
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Continuing the comparisons of Indian decorative techniques.

Koftgari on steel and Bidri on oxidised copper can look superficially similar. But sometimes we see hilts etc where the silver overlay is more substantial, not exactly the usual Koftgari, more like thick applied shaped foils overlaying the base metal.

This is the only example of this technique that I've seen used on 'Bidriware'.
The base metal is a copper alloy which has been chemically oxidised black, the silver designs appear to be applied thick 'foils' giving a more '3d' effect than would usually be seen. This reminds me of several Tulwar hilts that I've had in the past (sadly no longer).

'Bidri' Pot is from my own collection.
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