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Old 27th March 2018, 03:06 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default Indian scabbards

The Indian scabbards were covered with leather, but also with brocade, velvet, and other textiles.
Something which I have only seen on scabbards covered in leather is the 'loop', or rather the rest of it, looking mostly like a 'fish tail'.
I only have one scabbard with the 'loop' intact, and would like to know if other members have scabbards with a 'loop'.
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Old 27th March 2018, 03:24 PM   #2
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Indeed, I have had several and currently have one with an original loop.

It was used to loop over a handle quillon to prevent the sword from slipping out.
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Old 27th March 2018, 05:19 PM   #3
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These scabbards with the 'loop' are not very old, but on the old scabbards you can see that these 'loops' was used for a long time, although they have broken off.
It is interesting to notice that the 'loops' were only used on scabbards covered with leather, the other scabbards must have had a string which could be attached to the quillon.
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Old 28th March 2018, 12:44 PM   #4
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Here is another example.
The originale scabbard is 18th century. The loop is missing, but the 'fish tail' can be seen on the left side of the scabbard.
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Old 28th March 2018, 05:00 PM   #5
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Really old Indian scabbards must be rarer than hen's teeth: dry heat, wet heat, rains....

Anything from early 19th century in good condition would be a unique example, except for something stored in a royal palace and attended to on a regular basis.

I remember reading somewhere that the Russian War Ministry specified scabbards replacement for cossack hosts ( they were made of wood/leather) every 3 years or something similar. Every time a sword was taken out or put into the scabbard, it cut the wooden inserts and the leather, the leather dried out ( Jens' example) or just rotted.


The reason we see those gorgeous scabbards in Wallace Collection is because they were made largely post 1870 in royal workshops and immediately sold as souvenirs to European museums, dealers and just for the general public to hang them on the wall in their British libraries next to Victorian copies of " medieval" swords..
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Old 29th March 2018, 03:32 PM   #6
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Ariel is, no doubt, right about leather scabbards often in use, but as he also writes, 'except for something stored in a royal palace and attended to on a regular basis.'
I believe this is one of these cases, where the sword was seldom used, and taken very good care of when is was not used. This is why I believe the sword and the scabbard are of the same age.
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Old 29th March 2018, 04:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Ariel is, no doubt, right about leather scabbards often in use, but as he also writes, 'except for something stored in a royal palace and attended to on a regular basis.'
I believe this is one of these cases, where the sword was seldom used, and taken very good care of when is was not used. This is why I believe the sword and the scabbard are of the same age.


Very possible.

The leather is in a bad shape, but may be original 18th century.
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Old 30th March 2018, 01:36 PM   #8
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Jens,

Is there any accounting for the 'fish tail' and the loop being always found together? It is interesting that loops do not appear to have been used on scabbards with no fish tail. I wonder why? Do you know if the loops on these leather covered scabbards were produced only in one locality? If this was so, it makes more sense maybe.

Very best,

Richard.
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Old 30th March 2018, 03:20 PM   #9
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Hi Richard,
Nice to hear from you:-).
I have seen no accounts to that they belong together. However, why make a 'fish tail' alone? The way I see it, they must have belong togher.
No, I dont know if these loops only were made locally, but I find it very unlikely, this was made all over India.
In old texts you can read what will hapen if the sword rattels in the scabbard. I seem to remember that someone in your family will die, so imagine if a sword falls out of its scabbard - you would likely be the one to die - it does say in the texts, but it is a very long time ago since I have read them.
A sword is quite a long thing, and the blade quite heavy, so I have difficulties to imagine how that would happen, but if you are superstitious enough, almost all can happen.
I think scabbards, other than the one dressed in leather, had a cord to tide the sword to the scabbard with. This would be fine, and could be changed when needed, but on a leather scabbard, when the loop was broken - that was it.
What makes me wonder is, that the makers of the leather scabbards did not make it easy to change the loop - when it broke, as we can see on many scabbards that it did.
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Old 1st April 2018, 01:00 PM   #10
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Good morning Jens, and Happy Easter!

The loop on the leather-covered scabbard may have lasted as long as the average scabbard.
By this I mean that if (In an organised day and age) scabbards became worn, and were re-covered every five years for example, then the loop would last this long without problems or breaking down.
If it Was viewed in this manner, then maybe no problems making the loop integral with the mouth.
If this line of thinking is correct, and there is nothing to suggest it is!....then the frailty with which we judge the loop now, would not be a problem at the time.
Of course, this in no way explains why loops are only found on leather covered scabbards.

I have not lost interest in Indian Arms Jens, but have been rather engulfed in other areas, including the torador/ar. Then I acquired a few ancient and sad European /English arms that require work, and it all takes my time.

Very best wishes my Friend, and please pass on my kindest regards to your dear wife.

PS,
We still have snow more than knee deep here. Minus 23 C at present!
No spring lambs and daffodils for Easter.

Richard.
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Old 1st April 2018, 01:21 PM   #11
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Happy Easter everyone in here.
A mild temperatute in my neck of the woods: 16 C at 14:15 PM.
This 'loop' subject inspired me to speculate on other high flights, out of the Indian culture.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...43&postcount=34.
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Old 1st April 2018, 03:12 PM   #12
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Richard,
How are 'my' cows doing in this weather?
I think whenever the leather was in a bad shape, due to much rain, heat or whatever, it would be replaces and a new loop added.
I find the 'fish tail' interesting. Why a 'fish tail'? Did it attach better to the scabbard when it was glued - or was there another reason? Fish did have a spacial meaning to many Indians.
To be quite honest. I believe the loop would go before the scabbard was worn. A sudden atack and you have to pull the sword fast - the loop is a gonner.
The sword belonging to the second scabbard I show, has a long straight double edged blade, and there is no way it would fall out of the scabbard, but maybe if it rattled in the scabbard it would be a bad omen.

Fernando,
It is very interesting what you show, and I do think you have a point.
Did the Arabs have the same sayings about when a sword rattels in a scabbard it is a bad omen - and stuff like that?
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Old 1st April 2018, 03:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Fernando,
It is very interesting what you show, and I do think you have a point.
Did the Arabs have the same sayings about when a sword rattels in a scabbard it is a bad omen - and stuff like that?

Oh Jens, i wouldn't know ... but i would like to.
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Old 1st April 2018, 03:59 PM   #14
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Fernando,
Someone on this forum might know - hopefully.
Jens
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Old 1st April 2018, 06:12 PM   #15
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On the other hand Jens, some known authors suggest that Saif scabbards of silver fine decoration would be made in Hyderabad for the Yemen market. Could we have here a relation in practicing the 'loop locking' system ?
I have added a couple suggestive examples in the SAIF THREAD.
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Old 1st April 2018, 08:16 PM   #16
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Fernando,
With the pictures shown, I would say these 'straps', or whetever you will call them, must have been used for the same purpouse as the Indian 'loop'.
Your comment about where some of the scabbards were made is very interesting, as I have never heard about this before.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 01:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
...Your comment about where some of the scabbards were made is very interesting, as I have never heard about this before....

Well, this was also news to me, until i have submitted the (my)Saif thread where, by courtesy of Teodor (TVV), i have learnt that Elgood, weaving various considerations on subject in his book, goes on to referencing a photograph of a certain warrior from the Aden protectorate with such a sword, and then states that many warriors from Southern Yemen served as mercenaries in Hyderabad and "the swords are certainly made there and locally", there meaning Hyderabad. According to Elgood the motifs on the scabbard are Indian in style, not Yemeni.
...And that Robert Hales, not so expansive as Elgood, besides showing a photo of the Sultan of Lahej and his retinue and three similar swords in their scabbards, simply notes that the design and workmanship resembles jewelry from Hyderabad and points to strong historic links between Yemen and India.
I have also read that F. L. Schwarzlose, when discussing the type of swords available to the Arabs of Arabia, concludes that they themselves preferred Indian blades to blades produced elsewhere. He also points to the fact that this trade in swords was in existence from very early times and subsequent research has confirmed this. Indeed, a strong case can be made that the early Islamic conquests were made by Arabs predominantely armed with Indian swords, the Prophet himself owning a Hindi sword. At the battle of Yamama (12AH/633AD) the Muslim's opponents were armed with Indian swords ...


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Old 3rd April 2018, 01:41 PM   #18
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Fernando,
Yes India had a lot of trade with cpuntries to the east and to the west - even BC.
Interesting picture you show. In the lower row, the second man from left - does he have a tulwar?
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Old 3rd April 2018, 01:58 PM   #19
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It Is a tulwar hilt, Jens. That is for sure.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 02:00 PM   #20
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Indeed.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 03:42 PM   #21
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So the export was not only blades or ingots - but whole swords as well.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 05:21 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
So the export was not only blades or ingots - but whole swords as well.

For some reason, in Hadhramaut and Yemen, the Arabs used to refer to a good sword as muhannad, meaning an Indian Sword.
(R. Elgood "The Arms and Armour of Arabia in the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries")
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Old 4th April 2018, 03:18 PM   #23
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From very early times the Indians had big ships, with which they were able to cross the oceans, and trade far away Their main expost was the finest textiles, pepper, steel ingots, but they also exported a lot of other things. The payment they wanted was gold, to such an extend, that an old Roman once said - that Rome would soon run out of gold, with the amounts they sent to India.
The Indian trated with Rome, Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, Madagascar and other places - to the west, not to speak about to the east. Ok, gold was not all which entered India, slaves were also very much sought for.
The Indian trade seem to have stopped whan the Europeans arrived - as they seem to have wanted the trade.
As an experiment of thought. Could the Vikings have had swords made of Indian wootz steel? Yes they could. It is known that the Vikings were in Constantinoble very early, used for body guards - so when there, why not take a group-tour to Rome and Egypt?
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