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Old 3rd July 2020, 04:53 PM   #1
Milogow360
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Default Curved Swords In India Before The Talwar, 2nd Century BC, India

Chandraketugarh, Sunga Empire, 2nd Century BC, India

Curved swords show up in the three main successors of the Maurya Empire. Sungas, Kalingas, and Satavahanas. The design is spread a part in several directions in India. The backward curved swords probably goes back to the Mahajanapadas, but unfortunately for most of the Maurya and before the Maurya period art was constructed in wood. So nothing much survives.

This design begins to fade in art work after 1st century AD, but a unrelated design would of course be reintroduced by the Islamic C. Asian invasions into the subcontinent eventually forming the Talwar.

Below are examples from Sunga art in East India. I will post South East Kalingan and South-Deccan Satavahana saber examples as well.
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Old 4th July 2020, 05:17 AM   #2
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Exclamation Moderators comment: Uploaded pictures required ...

Please see my edit of your post. Ian
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Old 4th July 2020, 06:35 AM   #3
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I will post similar images for classical Indian broadswords - ancestors of the Khanda, etc. And forward curved swords which most likely were influenced by the Greek Kopis. Both of these types were used all over India in various shapes like the talwar would in medieval India.

Unlike the backward curved blades shown here the long broad swords and forward curved blades have artistic line, and a lineage right from the Maurya, post Maurya period, right to modern times with Sikhs, Marathas, Gorkhas, etc. and everything inbetween. Including many of you Indian arms collectors.

A interesting thing I noted is no matter the hilt design, the design of the sword(forward curved, sickle, leaf blade, long sword round tip, etc.), Indian doctrine preferred a short, tight handle. This is the case even after the Islamic C. Asian invasions and it has been the case since surviving Indian art.

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Old 4th July 2020, 06:50 AM   #4
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What is the source of those images?
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Old 4th July 2020, 06:58 AM   #5
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Deccan Satavahanas - One of the successors of the Mauryas.

You can see the swordmen has a curved saber.

Bhaja Caves, 2nd Century BC.
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Old 4th July 2020, 07:04 AM   #6
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Kalingas - One of the successors of the Mauryas.

One of the main enemies of the Mauryas. You can say they have a relationship like the Mughals-Marathas had much later on.

Udayagiri Caves, 2nd-1st Century BC.

On a side note -- When it comes to classical India, you will commonly see female warriors. This is mentioned by the Greek ambassador to the Maurya court Megasthenes and supported by artistic evidence.
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Old 4th July 2020, 03:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
What is the source of those images?


https://www.sylph-ocular.com/t49#12

https://www.sylph-ocular.com/ck

There a lot of terracotta and ivory works showing daily village, court, etc. life. It's a interesting look into ancient India. Militaristic images are very rare though.

The mounted examples

Chandraketugarh, Sunga Empire, 2nd Century BC, India


The dwarf with a backward curved dagger

Nagarjunakonda, Deccan Ikshvaku, 3rd–4th-century AD
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Old 4th July 2020, 03:46 PM   #8
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Thanks a lot!
Extremely interesting!
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Old 4th July 2020, 04:46 PM   #9
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As to the swordsman in your post #5: because of the state of preservation, I cannot see the curvature:-(

But what I find even more interesting, his sword seems to have a D-guard ( my imagination?).
We believe that D-guards came to India with Europeans. But Elgood, in his Hindu book, shows stone carvings of warriors carrying D-guarded swords allegedly dated to the 11th century( p.79). One image( 8.1) shows a slightly curved blade. Elgood, being an extremely careful professional, wanted additional confirmation, preferably actual examples before correcting the history.

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Old 5th July 2020, 01:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
As to the swordsman in your post #5: because of the state of preservation, I cannot see the curvature:-(

But what I find even more interesting, his sword seems to have a D-guard ( my imagination?).
We believe that D-guards came to India with Europeans. But Elgood, in his Hindu book, shows stone carvings of warriors carrying D-guarded swords allegedly dated to the 11th century( p.79). One image( 8.1) shows a slightly curved blade. Elgood, being an extremely careful professional, wanted additional confirmation, preferably actual examples before correcting the history.


I see what you're looking at and it's the first time I've seen it. You got my head tilted looking at it.

But I dont think it is. Hypothetical if it is or if I find a very early sample of a hand guard it's a extreme outlier(weird outliers do exist) and made no difference to the Indian sword evolution over the years.

I would like to see the source of the 11th century examples, oldest I've seen are from the Akbar/Mughal-Deccan Sultanates-Vijayanagara. All this time the Portuguese have a strong influence on the horse trade, artillery, small firearms, and probably to an extent swords. Especially in the south in small rich port cities like Calicut and very important imperial ones like Vijayanagara. I've not found one hand guard in the southern predecessors of the Vijayanagara, Hoysalas - who are pretty much isolated from Euro, etc. contact.

So the short answer, yeah, I do believe it's a European influence as well.

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Old 5th July 2020, 06:12 PM   #11
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I am hesitant about the images in your post #1. The degree of preservation, the perfectly smooth surfaces, the sophistication of the details and the general artistic level do not seem to be compatible with the purported age and the materiel ( stone carving). Are those later renditions?

If you do not have Elgood’s book “ Hindu arms and ritual” where the 11th century are from, I shall photograph the page and post it sometimes today.
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Old 5th July 2020, 07:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Are those later renditions?


No, there are a lot of iconography, lore, etc. in Chandraketugarh vases and other deposits that are archaic, etc. hard to think up of even in the 5th century AD let alone recently. However people can try to reproduced them, twist already found pieces.

That vase has some damage to it, but over it is in very good condition you're right.

Their collection is extremely good, one of the best I've seen. I'd hope they have experts cross referencing.

https://www.sylph-ocular.com/
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Old 5th July 2020, 10:33 PM   #13
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Another are the daggers of the Central Asian White Huns. Whites Huns invaded the Gupta and the Sassanid Empire. The Western Huns would of probably of another racial make up invaded the Roman empire.

This is a site in Kashmir, 6th to 7th Century AD.

The artistic system is of their own and not Indian. They all hold a straigh sword in their hand and daggers on their waist.
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Old 5th July 2020, 11:55 PM   #14
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Do we know when these vases were created? I went on the site of images from Bhaja Caves, and there are indeed some obviously old ones with curved swords. So, in my mind, their existence 2000 years ago is not in question. But if the vases were created according to the old motives, their evidentiary value is in doubt. Better use the worn-out originals:-)
Here are images from Elgood's book. They seem to confirm your theory re. curved blades. But, if the " warrior" from Bhaja indeed caries a sword with a knuckle guard, the European origin of that sword detail becomes impossible.
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Old 20th July 2020, 11:36 PM   #15
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Gandhara, 1st-2nd+ Century AD

So far we have examples from across the subcontinent in all politically important parts of India in classical India. Though not as popular as the forward recurved swords, or Indian broadswords it still shows up. Another sword type is the sickle/hook/falx like blades.
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