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Old 28th October 2016, 03:43 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default The floral decoration and hilt disc motif on tulwars

Could someone interested in researching, not help out a bit, and please start a research on the flowers on the tulwar hilts?
A lot of hilts/flowers are shown in my latest catalogue, so this could be a starter.
At the moment I cant do it myself, as I am wound up in researching some katar types, which I believe belong together, but I yet have to prove it.
What I know so far is, that they are from Rajasthan, ande the age seem to differ. They are shown in old catalogues, but the place of origin is avoided, and so is the age. So I will have to dig deeper to find an answer.
It would, however, help if someone will take the task to start looking into the flowers on the tulwar hilts - so we can move a bit farther than we are now.
Jens

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 13th February 2017 at 04:51 PM. Reason: expand scope of discussion
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Old 28th October 2016, 04:05 PM   #2
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Thank you so much for bringing up this topic Jens!
This is something we have talked about for years, that there seem to be far deeper purposes and meanings beyond pure aesthetics in the floral and vegetal motifs in these hilt decorations.

While many may disagree on hidden symbolisms in such decoration, I am inclined to think these must have been present. In "Hindu Arms and Ritual", Robert Elgood beautifully addressed the many ritual and symbolic aspects of all sorts of flora with respect to preparation for battle, insignia and auspicious representations.

I am hoping others will agree and join in revisiting this important topic, and share thoughts and ideas on floral symbolism in Indian arms.
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Old 29th October 2016, 07:17 AM   #3
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Default Flowers on Tulvar Hilts.

I have some sketches with flowers on...and pictures.
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Old 29th October 2016, 07:57 AM   #4
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More...
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Old 29th October 2016, 07:11 PM   #5
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Excellent images Ibrahiim! Thank you.
As I look at these, I can visualize the many incredible hilts of the swords in Jens' collection as shown in his magnificent new catalog.

As Jens has asked for us to join in his long standing research on the floral imagery on tulwar hilts, I wanted to add some material I had found on Mughal hilt decoration.

In " The Use of Flora and Fauna Imagery in Mughal Decorative Arts" by Stephen Markel ('Marg' magazine, Vol.50 #3, Mar. 1999) it is noted that
"...throughout the Mughal period there were several basic uses of flora and fauna imagery in the decorative arts. First and foremost was adornment for both solely decorative and or dynastic identifying purposes."

It is noted that dagger and sword hilts, sheaths and scabbards were the most prolifically decorated. The hilts were designed with floral and vegetal forms, raised or inlaid poppy plants or other flowers or terminating in floral shapes. Single buds were most favored terminals at end of knuckleguard.


Shah Jahan (r. 1628-58) used floral imagery codifying flowering plants as dynastic leitmotif and this practice endured for two centuries.

By the end of the Mughal period in mid 19th c these dynastic emblems of flowering plants had paled into a repetitive motif far less aesthetic than the elegant representations of the 17th c.

These notes from Markel's excellent article suggest that with the Mughal sphere, the choices for floral imagery was at least in large degree to represent their dynastic symbolism.

Perhaps these identifications of the flowers represented might assist in dating a hilt, not only by the flower represented, but the character and quality of its presentation .

In the case of Rajput or Sikh examples, these might align with either Hindu floral motif, which I believe was more aligned religiously in character, though it would seem that motifs often transcended deeper symbolisms in being copied aesthetically in other contexts. With that being the case, the Mughal decoration may well have been found in these also.

Having noted these aspects, what needs to be discovered and categorized is the nature of depictions of various flower and vegetal motif, and if possible any provenance which might place them in certain contexts.
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Old 30th October 2016, 11:06 AM   #6
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After almost 40 years of marriage, my wife finally summarized two of my hopeless basic flaws:
1. Even though I am not color blind, I am "color deaf".
2. For me, any flowering thingie with thorns is a rose, and without them, - a tulip.

The former is an insurmountable obstacle for choosing an appropriate tie for a shirt. The latter disqualifies me from deciphering decorative floral motives on anything, including Oriental weapons.

When the two are combined ( such as bringing her flowers) the result is usually catastrophic.
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Old 30th October 2016, 12:45 PM   #7
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Ibrahiim,

The drawings/hilts you are showing are very interesting.
The dravings were often used by goldsmiths to show to customers, so they could choose a decoration for their hilt.
Illustration no 7, have a look at the middle hilt and compare it to the one I show in the catalogue pp. 303-306. These two hilts must have been made at the same workshop. Ibrahiim do you have a better picture of this hilt?
Jens
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Old 30th October 2016, 01:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Ibrahiim,

The drawings/hilts you are showing are very interesting.
The dravings were often used by goldsmiths to show to customers, so they could choose a decoration for their hilt.
Illustration no 7, have a look at the middle hilt and compare it to the one I show in the catalogue pp. 303-306. These two hilts must have been made at the same workshop. Ibrahiim do you have a better picture of this hilt?
Jens


I dont have your catalogue reference so I dont know... I take it you mean the #4 sketch?... I am in the UK in a few days and will try to get your catalogue. ...
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Old 30th October 2016, 01:16 PM   #9
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Ibrahiim,
I mean the hilt looking like the attached.
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Old 30th October 2016, 02:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Ibrahiim,
I mean the hilt looking like the attached.


Salaams, It is amazing that I have posted one so like yours except mine has a Knuckleguard... I will search to see if there is a better picture meanwhile a few more ...This Tegha has a Tulvar hilt and interesting floral decor whilst on a black background; a Tulvar hilt covered in Script except for a single small flower between the Guard.

The name Tul(var) means flower...and the Afghanistan version is Pul(ouar) . Does this refer to the abundance of floral decoration or give rise to it? On the other hand may the design of the flower shaped pommel have any relation to the hilt/sword name?

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 30th October 2016, 02:56 PM   #11
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Some more...The black background from the Caravanna Collection:

Quote"17th Century

Western India - Gujarat, Mughal period (1526-1858)

Steel, gold

Height 18 cm

Tulwar hilt dated to the 17th century, shaped as a bird dated from the 17th century with a hand guard forming the profile of a swan. The entire surface is covered with floral motifs, engraved and inlayed in gold, in the koftgari technique.

Bibl.: Jawaant, 2005, p. 83; Nath Pant, 1978, vol. 3, est. CXX." Unquote.

I note that the swan neck finial of the knuckleguard is almost exactly that of the Afghanistan swan neck...
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Old 30th October 2016, 03:01 PM   #12
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Jens,

Firstly, Thank You for making your catalogue available! I have not yet got my copy.
When you started this thread, I wondered if you meant the flower (phool) or the disc decoration.
Quite a few years ago, I recall our discussions on just this subject, but am afraid I recall it imperfectly now.
I am quite sure however that the gist we agreed upon, was that the flower (on Hindu arms) was not merely decorative, but to attract the attention of a deity for some purpose, Or to symbolise the same.
I know poppies are associated with a certain deity, but do not remember which at present! Poppies are a very common theme in hilt decoration, as are Lotus buds.
For some reason, fishes as decoration appear to be limited to katars, and this may seem odd to others besides myself!
Fishes/Vishnu or one of the associated incarnations of the same deity never (never??) seem to appear on sword hilts.
I will have to do some looking and thinking on this interesting subject Jens. It has been off the back-burner for a Long time!
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Old 30th October 2016, 03:16 PM   #13
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Yes the decoration of the hilts is interesting, and varies from place to place and from time to time according to fashion.
However, what I was thinking of was the flower on top of the disc. Either it is a flower or a sun, or missing all together. I think this is a better pointer than the floral decoration of the hilt.
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Old 30th October 2016, 04:18 PM   #14
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Sorry Richard, I overlooked you mail at first.
Having the head filled with flowers - the right side with roses, and the left side with tulips - I am sure Ariel will understand my stress:-).
You you are right, we did discuss the flowers on top of the disc, but although I find this very interesting, and research should be done, someone else must do it, as I have only one head and two hands, and I have started to research some katar types, which I have wanted to research for a long time. The research is slow, as not much is found about them, and the informations to have, seems to differe quite a bit of for how long time this katar group was used.

I hope you will like the catalogue when you get it:-) - all the best to you all.

Jens
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Old 30th October 2016, 04:27 PM   #15
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After posting the notes from the article by Stephen Markel, and seeing that apparently in degree, floral motif was used as a dynastic leitmotif by the Mughals, from the time of Shah Jahan onward, it seems that aesthetics also were largely in play.

While Persian poetry and art as well as of course many cultural factors were prevalent in Mughal courts, it seems well established that European influence was also well known and apparently from the 'herbals' of 16thc among such influences. In the attached article from the British Museum,
"Mughal Flower Studies and Their European Inspiration" by J.P.Losty, these cases are discussed, providing insight into aspects of these influences.

It is noted that while the herbals from Europe were primarily from a botanical, rather than aesthetic point of view, it does seem that a certain degree of the character of the illustrations did become notable in Mughal art.
One reference is to the "DARA SHIKOH ALBUM" which is cited as one of the most important artifacts in the museum library.
Dara Shikoh was Shah Jahan's eldest and favorite son (1615-58) who compiled these floral references.
Included is an illustration (attached) of a prince in Persian costume by the 'mysterious' artist Muhammed Khan noted as possibly from the Deccan and engaged by Dara Shikoh when the Emperors court was in Burhanpur in 1630-32.

The arrangement in the vase appears taken somewhat from an Antwerp publication of c1590 (attached) reflecting this influence.

While these references pertain the art in paintings, they were of course the source for floral images which would occur on the hilts of weapons. In the case of the Mughal interpretation, the mix and match assortment of such floral arrangements were not suitable for such motif, however individual flower images were selected and became studies for decoration.

Again, the focus here is on the Mughal decorative motif may be regarded as prevalent on tulwars as they are of course known mostly in that context, it is more difficult to relegate such motifs to Rajput, Sikh and other situations.

I hope this will offer some insight and ideas toward further research on this topic. Please see the attached link below to the full article I noted by Mr. Losty.
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Old 30th October 2016, 05:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
After posting the notes from the article by Stephen Markel, and seeing that apparently in degree, floral motif was used as a dynastic leitmotif by the Mughals, from the time of Shah Jahan onward, it seems that aesthetics also were largely in play.

While Persian poetry and art as well as of course many cultural factors were prevalent in Mughal courts, it seems well established that European influence was also well known and apparently from the 'herbals' of 16thc among such influences. In the attached article from the British Museum,
"Mughal Flower Studies and Their European Inspiration" by J.P.Losty, these cases are discussed, providing insight into aspects of these influences.

It is noted that while the herbals from Europe were primarily from a botanical, rather than aesthetic point of view, it does seem that a certain degree of the character of the illustrations did become notable in Mughal art.
One reference is to the "DARA SHIKOH ALBUM" which is cited as one of the most important artifacts in the museum library.
Dara Shikoh was Shah Jahan's eldest and favorite son (1615-58) who compiled these floral references.
Included is an illustration (attached) of a prince in Persian costume by the 'mysterious' artist Muhammed Khan noted as possibly from the Deccan and engaged by Dara Shikoh when the Emperors court was in Burhanpur in 1630-32.

The arrangement in the vase appears taken somewhat from an Antwerp publication of c1590 (attached) reflecting this influence.

While these references pertain the art in paintings, they were of course the source for floral images which would occur on the hilts of weapons. In the case of the Mughal interpretation, the mix and match assortment of such floral arrangements were not suitable for such motif, however individual flower images were selected and became studies for decoration.

Again, the focus here is on the Mughal decorative motif may be regarded as prevalent on tulwars as they are of course known mostly in that context, it is more difficult to relegate such motifs to Rajput, Sikh and other situations.

I hope this will offer some insight and ideas toward further research on this topic. Please see the attached link below to the full article I noted by Mr. Losty.




Salaams Jim, I have discovered a remarkable painting in a collection of miniatures put together for the somewhat mystic son Dara Shikoh for his wife but that collection was partly painted over in gold hiding his work / involvement (he was a master of calligraphy) done by members of the Royal Court probably of Aurangazeb who had him executed after he, Dara, had lost a key battle with Aurangazeb... for the throne.

What I find intriguing is that the floral style in these flowers in the largest picture below is exactly the same as those for the work on the Tulvar Hilt floral decoration...

There is always a possible link in the hypothesis of some form of mystical tie up with the concept of decoration in the Tulvar and some hidden secret concerning the sword...it's possible proximity/relationship to the name Tulvar and floral image...Tul means flower as does Pul...Thus Tulvar and Pulouar...After all; Dara Shikoh even tried to consider a joint Hindu Arabic link in the two language forms as well as a host of other mystical cult experiences. Could his incredible collection of art work be related to the designs on Tulvar Hilts? See the floral work below from The "DARA SHIKOH ALBUM"

See https://www.theguardian.com/environ...ory-in-pictures

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 31st October 2016, 12:45 PM   #17
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And more from The British Library ~ Nadira Banu actually died before Dara Shikoh...of dysentery in Baluchistan...see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadira_Banu_Begum for clarity . Was this documents floral art used in the Royal Court as the artistic technique register for Artists and Artisans working on Tulvar masterpieces from that date?
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Old 31st October 2016, 04:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook
Jens,

Firstly, Thank You for making your catalogue available! I have not yet got my copy.
When you started this thread, I wondered if you meant the flower (phool) or the disc decoration.
Quite a few years ago, I recall our discussions on just this subject, but am afraid I recall it imperfectly now.
I am quite sure however that the gist we agreed upon, was that the flower (on Hindu arms) was not merely decorative, but to attract the attention of a deity for some purpose, Or to symbolise the same.
I know poppies are associated with a certain deity, but do not remember which at present! Poppies are a very common theme in hilt decoration, as are Lotus buds.
For some reason, fishes as decoration appear to be limited to katars, and this may seem odd to others besides myself!
Fishes/Vishnu or one of the associated incarnations of the same deity never (never??) seem to appear on sword hilts.
I will have to do some looking and thinking on this interesting subject Jens. It has been off the back-burner for a Long time!



Salaams Pukka Bundook See http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...lace+collection # 41 where there is a Tulvar sword numbered 1412 in that collection with Fish on the hilt... as below ~

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 1st November 2016, 01:59 AM   #19
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Salaams Ibrahiim,

I thought when I wrote 'never' it would bring something to light!
Thank you for the link to that spectacular thread.
The tulwar you show here is very different in decoration to any I have seen before. Very well done and possibly unique. Thank you for this!


Richard.
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Old 1st November 2016, 04:30 PM   #20
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I think we will have to see the 'flower' decorations in two steps.
The Phool is to my oppinion more orientated to a place/clan/sub clan and so on. As it is likely that the different clans, maybe of the same religion would use the same Phool. It can sometimes be a bit difficult to know which clan/sub clan belonged together, as they had differrent names.
The other flower decoration, the one on the hilt, is also somewhat orientated to a place, but far more to a fashion - to when it was made. This leads me to warn you that some of the decorations were made on far older weapons. The old decoration stripped off, and a new decoration started a new era of the weapon.
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Old 21st January 2017, 04:27 PM   #21
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Default Dara Shikoh ... A Mystic in his own right.. Artistic Influence.

I suggest that since this excellent thread is nowhere near complete that it be given the traditional Forum Bump ! bringing it into focus for further research and comments.

In particular the mystic nature of this hilt artwork and its importance across the entire range of Indian weapons. In fact I would have preferred its tittle to have been all encompassing perhaps netting in the entire conundrum as Talismanic and Mystical Artwork of Indian Weapons; down the ages, or Indian Bladed Weapons; Mystical and Talismanic artwork. Or something similar so that the subject can have a full airing.

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Old 21st January 2017, 05:04 PM   #22
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As an example of the apparent depth of the puzzle surrounding Daro Shikoh I refer here to the odd situation of his portrait portfolio at http://www.academia.edu/7202804/The...einterpretation

Quote''Most of the paintings can be fitted into a preconceived scheme, although the precise purpose of the flower paintings is not yet quite clear. The significant numbers of religious figures and both Hindu and Muslim ascetics of various persuasions obviously reflect Dara Shikoh’s early interest in religion and philosophy. Two Hindu yogis who form a pair by themselves are of earlier date than the rest of the album and these paintings have been enlarged to fit in. This is the only instance of paired ascetics in the album.

The prince we know from his writings was interested in Hindu philosophy from his youth, although he did not write about it until the late 1640s. He also studied the Hindu philosophical system of the Vedanta and produced a Persian translation of the Sanskrit Upanishads, while one of his later books compares the two mystical philosophies of the Vedanta and Sufism ''Unquote.

Although the reference draws a secondary conclusion based on the artwork it may be important to note that he was very much a believer in the Mystic aspects of life then...and it is worth looking at the floral clues on weaponry for a link. On the other hand it could turn out as a general statement that Daro Shikoh whilst fascinated by the arts, that this was entirely co incidental and that sword hilts..and possibly other weapons were simply painted to a set of known designs and that no such mystic based link prevailed.

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Old 21st January 2017, 05:32 PM   #23
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Please see; http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/.../talismans.html

I have selected this North Indian design as it struck me that its circular pattern was reminiscent of the large disc atop Tulvar Pommels ..It is typically in Indian script and follows the geometry of such weapons ...whilst conveniently it is part of a treatise on Talismanic detail.

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Old 21st January 2017, 06:44 PM   #24
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Default TALISMANIC FLORAL DECORATION ON INDIAN WEAPONS.

Please see; http://mini-site.louvre.fr/trois-em...crustations.php

The following article which perhaps could have included the description Floral Artwork is entitled;

Quote"[B]Hardstones, gems and ivory in Mughal India.[/B]

Hardstone marquetry is a long-standing local tradition. The refined technique of inlay, which the Persian and Mughal chroniclers refer to as parchîn kârî, and which was brought to an almost unbelievable peak of excellence by the imperial stoneworkers during the reign of Shah Jahan, consisted of setting in marble or sandstone thin sections of hard or semi-hard stones that had been cut with the greatest of care and fashioned in the shape of tendrils and floral arabesques. The Frenchman François Bernier , who lived in India between 1656 and 1668, describes the mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658) for his wife Mumtâz Mahal, in a letter dated 1663 to Monsieur de La Mothe Le Vayer: he speaks with great enthusiasm of the mausoleum’s perfect architecture and of its opulent interior decoration, floral motifs in white marble inlaid with jade, jasper and other sorts of precious stones.

The hardstones used in the decoration of the Taj Mahal, as well as in palaces and imperial buildings all over India and in the surrounding regions, included yellow amber from Burma, lapis-lazuli from Afghanistan, nephrite from Chinese Turkestan, and carnelian, agate, amethyst, jasper, green beryl, chalcedony, onyx and coral from the different regions of the huge Indian sub-continent.

At the Mughal court precious and semi-precious stones were also used to highlight imperial tableware, writing desks, mirrors, huqqa, weapons, royal saddles and even gold and silver gem-studded thrones. Rock-crystal and jade, hardstones which could only be worked with diamond dust, were particularly appreciated at the Mughal court. Objects fashioned in the second half of the seventeenth century by Mughal ateliers or karkhâna from jade – or to be more precise from the nephrite and jadeite imported from Kashgar and from Khotan – such as boxes and pen boxes, huqqa stands and mouthpieces, dagger hilts and archer’s thumb rings, bowls and cups, are particularly remarkable for their delicate inlays of precious stones, predominantly emeralds, diamonds, rubies and spinels, set in gold and forming stylized floral motifs.

Jade was thought to contain talismanic virtues such as the power of prolonging life – and indeed even that of ensuring immortality; it was also considered to favor success on the battlefield – hence its name of “stone of victory”. It was therefore considered the most appropriate material for the manufacture of ornate arms symbolizing victory. The hilts of these ornate weapons which were only used for ceremonial purposes were often carved in the shape of the head of a horse, a ram, an antelope, a lion or a falcon, always with a quite remarkable and moving expressivity. This repertoire of animal motifs is known to have existed as early as the second half of the reign of Jahangir, and became particularly important under the emperor Shah Jahan.

Ivory carving was an important craft in ancient India. It was to be equally appreciated at the Mughal court, where it was used in the making and ornamentation of chests and caskets, as well as dagger hilts, flasks and powder horns. The latter were given a lively, zoomorphic décor, in which different birds and animals were intermingled – elephants, lions, monkeys, buffaloes, rams, antelopes and hares, as well as composite and imaginary animals. Hunt scenes predominate in these exuberant animal scenes, derived from the iconographic repertoire of Mughal miniatures. Similar scenes also appear in the décor of late sixteenth and early seventeenth century Mughal carpets. Some of the ivory powder horns were clearly gilded and embellished with colors, and the eyes of the animals were occasionally encrusted with amber and precious or semi-precious stones.

The floral and plant motifs predominate in the decorative repertoire of Mughal India. The combination of the naturalistic yet subtly stylized treatment of Mughal flowers, together with their balanced and symmetrical arrangement, is emblematic of Mughal taste in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the floral motif became a leitmotiv that permeated all the arts of the court (textiles and decorative arts, arts of the book) and even architecture. This fascination with the floral motif can be traced back to the reign of the Emperor Jahangir. It originated during a journey made by Jahangir in 1620 to Kashmir, a country where the emperor was enchanted by the variety and profusion of the flowers which grew there, and which he was subsequently wont to describe as “a garden where spring reigns eternally”. During this trip the monarch was accompanied by one of the great masters of the imperial atelier of painting, the animal painter Ustâd Mansűr Nâdir al’Asr, who, at the request of the sovereign, executed more than a hundred flower studies, of which only three precious examples still survive.

This poetic delight in the exuberant blossoming flowers of Kashmir was reinforced by the discovery of European herbals brought to the Mughal court by Jesuit missionaries and agents of the East India Company.

The herbals were to exert considerable influence on Mughal flower painting, on the precision with which they were drawn, on the extreme care taken with the representation of botanical details, and on the presence of butterflies and dragonflies fluttering above the corollas and leaves, which Mughal artists, who were familiar with Persian works, often replaced with small meandrous-shaped Chinese clouds (t’chi), which were considered in China to be the vehicles of the gods, and which became a decorative motif in Persian art. As so pertinently noted by M. L. Swietochowski, the regular arrangement of flowers and bouquets in the margins of Mughal miniatures is reminiscent of the ornamentation of a number of Books of Hours from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and perhaps even more so of the borders of Flemish engravings on religious subjects".Unquote

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Old 21st January 2017, 08:02 PM   #25
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Here is an interesting sword! Of particular interest is the floral decoration which may be relevant to the thread..

Do these floral designs have a Talismanic/ secret meaning?

Please see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O...a-shikoh-sword/

Quote"The very fine watered steel blade of this sword is inscribed on the back of the blade with a Persian inscription inlaid in gold stating that it belonged to the Mughal prince Dara Shokuh (1615-1659), the son and preferred successor of the emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). The verses may be translated as: 'This sword (tigh) of the princed called Dara Shokuh/Takes care of a thousand enemies at one go'. When Shah Jahan fell ill in 1658, another son, Aurangzeb, usurped the throne, had Dara Shokuh killed during a fierce war of succession and declared himself emperor with the title 'Alamgir.

The blade is also inlaid on one side with a gold parasol signifying its royal ownership. The sword must have been made in a court workshop, perhaps in Lahore which was a traditional centre of weapons production. A date is stamped on one side of the blade near a forte. The third digit is indistinct, but is probably '5', making the date 1050 AH, or 1640-41".Unquote.
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Old 22nd January 2017, 02:00 AM   #26
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This is really an interesting topic, and as Jens has asked, to research more on the flowers on tulwar hilts. Naturally, the floral designs extend to daggers and sheaths as well.
As I noted in my earlier posts, an interesting article is by Stephan Markel, "Use of Flora and Fauna Imagery in Mughal Decorative Arts" ('Marg', Vol.50, #3, Mar. 1999, pp.25-35).
He notes; "...throughout the Mughal period there were several basic uses of flora and fauna imagery in the decorative arts. First and foremost was adornment for both solely decorative and/or dynastic identifying purposes.
Along with jewellery, dagger and sword hilts, sheath and scabbards were the most prolific court object to be accented with floral imagery". (p.27)

Also noted is that by the end of the Mughal period in the mid 19th c. the dynastic emblem of flowering plants had paled into a repetitive motif less aesthetic than the elegant flowers of the 17th c.

It seems there are considerable 'floral lore' assessments of the symbolism of certain flowers in various religions, which vary in degree but in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, the seems one of the most significant.

In Islam, there is a great deal of aesthetic attention to arrangement of floral and botanicals as the focus on replicating the Gardens of Paradise and their beauty is a key theme. Meanwhile, it does seem that the use of codified representations of certain flowers were dynastic representations.

It would be interesting to discover more on which flowers were indicative of which dynasty and how they were portrayed in various regions or periods.
There is mention of 'Mughalization' of Hindu forms of flower in some cases.

It seems less likely for talismanic application in most cases, as most of what is described seems to refer to aesthetic floral themes in favored arrangements and certain codification probably aligned with dynastic favor of those themes.

In the case of the interior of the pommel discs, it seems these motif may be themed after certain solar or celestial subjects, but can be floral as well.
I am curious if these follow the theme of the hilt or can differ.
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Old 22nd January 2017, 04:45 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This is really an interesting topic, and as Jens has asked, to research more on the flowers on tulwar hilts. Naturally, the floral designs extend to daggers and sheaths as well.
As I noted in my earlier posts, an interesting article is by Stephan Markel, "Use of Flora and Fauna Imagery in Mughal Decorative Arts" ('Marg', Vol.50, #3, Mar. 1999, pp.25-35).
He notes; "...throughout the Mughal period there were several basic uses of flora and fauna imagery in the decorative arts. First and foremost was adornment for both solely decorative and/or dynastic identifying purposes.
Along with jewellery, dagger and sword hilts, sheath and scabbards were the most prolific court object to be accented with floral imagery". (p.27)

Also noted is that by the end of the Mughal period in the mid 19th c. the dynastic emblem of flowering plants had paled into a repetitive motif less aesthetic than the elegant flowers of the 17th c.

It seems there are considerable 'floral lore' assessments of the symbolism of certain flowers in various religions, which vary in degree but in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, the seems one of the most significant.

In Islam, there is a great deal of aesthetic attention to arrangement of floral and botanicals as the focus on replicating the Gardens of Paradise and their beauty is a key theme. Meanwhile, it does seem that the use of codified representations of certain flowers were dynastic representations.

It would be interesting to discover more on which flowers were indicative of which dynasty and how they were portrayed in various regions or periods.
There is mention of 'Mughalization' of Hindu forms of flower in some cases.

It seems less likely for talismanic application in most cases, as most of what is described seems to refer to aesthetic floral themes in favored arrangements and certain codification probably aligned with dynastic favor of those themes.

In the case of the interior of the pommel discs, it seems these motif may be themed after certain solar or celestial subjects, but can be floral as well.
I am curious if these follow the theme of the hilt or can differ.


Hello Jim, Your detailed post is well accepted and hopefully the Talismanic values of the floral artwork can be realized. The fact that the sword of Dara Shikoh can reveal something interesting in that regard could be interesting... though in fact what he was trying to do ... and the main reason that Aurangezeb was able to have him executed was tied up to the Mystic situation and where Dara Shikoh attempting to link Islam with Hinduism. That in itself may yield the answers we seek. In other words; Is that what floral decoration was meant to secretly represent? I realize that this is somewhat hypothetical but it may be what everyone is missing.

Did his detractors miss the point in gold painting out any written references (Artistic impression in Islam to them meant the written word and pure geometry only) whilst not seeing the artwork as important?...Perhaps representing to Dara Shikoh the joining of two great religions. Is this possibly what the smokescreen of floral design came to represent?

If he had somehow survived it can be imagined how different history would have been.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 22nd January 2017, 07:37 PM   #28
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Following the reference by Jim earlier I noted from another associated work by Stephen Merkel on http://asianart.com/articles/markel2/index.html

Quote '' Another quality of the finest Mughal jades is that they can exhibit a sophisticated complexity of design with multiple component parts. This complex design is exemplified by a white nephrite dagger hilt dating from around the mid-seventeenth century, which was recently acquired by the San Diego Museum of Art (2004:196)(Fig. 17, below) . The hilt was originally crafted for a type of Mughal dagger with a double-edged curved blade with a strong mid-rib, which in Akbari and Jahangiri historical records was called a khapwah, meaning “the finisher, the giver of coup de grace.”[23] The San Diego khapwah hilt is fashioned in a classic Mughal complex hilt form that was first used for daggers made with metal hilts.[24] This jade example is one of the few known to survive, and replicates the hilt parts derived from metal hilts. The end of the hilt, termed the pommel, is in the form of two leaves that function as the end guards and flank a bud-shaped finial called the tang-button. Around the middle of the hilt grip is a decorative band called the necklace, which is in the form of a flowering vine graced by irises and stylized open poppy blossoms (Fig. 18, below). The base of the grip flares out with bud-shaped terminals that serve as the arms of the cross guard, called quillons, used to protect the hand. A knuckle guard connects the pommel with the quillon on one side. It ends at the pommel in the form of a pendant bud and as a volute at the quillon. Joining the quillon and the grip in the center is an openwork shaft in leaf form that is hollowed to accommodate the blade tang. Protruding from the base of the quillon is a short collar that anchors the blade in place and acts as a coupling when the hilt is inserted into the locket of the sheath. The subtle floral and vegetal designs of the San Diego hilt not only proclaim its Mughal origin, but also create a decorative program that elegantly contrasts and complements its sheer surface''.Unquote.
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Old 22nd January 2017, 07:41 PM   #29
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Does anyone have a copy of Stephan Markels , "Use of Flora and Fauna Imagery in Mughal Decorative Arts" It would be useful to have this document transferred here for library purposes. I cannot get it to download...

In addition please see http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-africa...nspiration.html alluded to by Jim McDougall in an earlier post...

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Old 22nd January 2017, 09:06 PM   #30
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Ibrahiim, thank you for the detailed information and excerpts on the possible talismanic aspects of the decoration on these weapons. It really gives us a lot to consider!
While much of what we are looking into involves the Mughal decoration of tulwar hilts, clearly the links to Hindu imagery play an important part in the development of many of these motifs.

I think the capture and execution of Dara Shikoh was more a result of the typical power struggle between the heirs for control from the standing emperor than differences in idealogy. The fact that Dara Shikoh was quite liberal compared to his younger brother Jahangir and as noted, was deeply involved in mysticism was however a notable circumstance. Elgood explains (p.135, "Hindu Arms & Ritual", 2004) that with the forces under these rulers, "...the ideological battle between Islam and Hinduism had limited relevance as mercenaries served either side".

In his book, Elgood explains also that flowers and plants indeed had both certain talismanic as well as dynastic significance in the early Hindu kingdoms and of course Faith. He states (p.129) that "...it follows that a plant depicted on a weapon is likely to represent more than its decorative value"
Further, that there were nine species of plant associated with the warrior goddess Durga, and the "...red flower is used for good and evil for charms and incantations on the one hand, and for witchcraft and spells on the other".

The exposure with European contact certainly rang true with respect to the various volumes of botanical lore and art known as herbals, as "...the Indians, like the Victorians (much later) had a very precise language of trees and plants and though there are regional differences, plants had a pan Indian value" (p.129).

Also noted is the sweet basil plant called tulsi (ocimum sanctum) associated with Vishnu, and referred to as 'bhutagni' (=killer of demons). Evil spirits including the god of death, Yama, are driven away by this plant, and its leaves often worn in the turban by Rajput and other warriors (p.144).
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