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Old 24th August 2018, 07:23 PM   #1
Kmaddock
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Default Nayar temple sword

Hi all
Got lucky at an auction this week with the attached sword.
I managed to spot what it was without much competion and there was an accompanying bayonet which I sold today for more than I paid for three items. I actually made a 12 euro profit on the whole deal and there is another knife in the mix as well I have yet to look at properly.

Anyway I digress to the awful subject of money.

I have been looking up about these swords since I spotted this last week
A non fighting sword used in religious processions and ceremony’s in southern India.

It seems to be a typical example with 3 holes for charms/ bells on the blade and 2 loops on the handle,
V flexible blade with some rust nibbles

Nice to have one of the sets of charms on the blade, they basicly look like droplets of metal which rattle together.

There also is ringlet of steel in the handle which can rattle back and forth

It is quiet rusty but surprisingly solid underneath( with the seeming obligatory white paint spots that you get on uncared for weapons that seemingly lie in barns and sheds before being put in auctions). I am obviously going to clean off the surface rust but I probably won’t go back as far as raw metal as I prefer to under clean than go to clean metal, would you agree.

I know these are hard to age but I am guessing late 18th early 19 thcentury. Again would you agree or have any opinion.

Thanks again for the forum knowledge and archives for enabling me to recognize what this is and add to my collection

I will put up some posts after the rust cleaning for the sake of completion.

Any and all comments welcome.

Regards

Ken
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Old 25th August 2018, 12:27 AM   #2
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HI Ken
This is a Bhuta or Theyyam sword which is used for the Ritual dance performance during the kola or theyyam ceremony in Coastal Karnataka and Kerala in south India,.these are typically made of forged iron and steel handles but in higer and rich familys they are also made of silver .The bhutas are ancestoral spirit guardians and protectors of the Agricultural lands of the Shetty and Nair clans of these regions who were basically a warrior clan but later became landlords.
Am putting up some pictures of the Bhuta kola ceremony where you will see the Masks used in the ritual dance and the Bhutasaana[deity house} and other ritual pictures for your reference .
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Old 25th August 2018, 12:53 AM   #3
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Bandook,

Thank you for the detailed information about these swords which get only a passing mention in Rawson's book. Can you elaborate on the function of the "jingles" in these ceremonies? Does their unusual shape have any importance?

Ian.
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Old 25th August 2018, 01:25 AM   #4
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Hi Ian
I can tell you more about these as I come from Mangalore in South India and we practice the Bhuta Tradition am putting up some masks and other musical ritual items used during the ceremony like the gagaara and gungroo worn on the anklets for making sounds during the Dance.The sword also has small bells on the outer edges which makes sounds when the performer shakes them during his Trance.
some more information on this so you can get a picture of this Ancient Tradition.
Bhuta worship is an ancient pre-Hindu folk tradition practiced in the Tulu Nadu region in southern coastal Karnataka. Bhuta-or "spirit" in Sanskrit-involves a religious cult ceremony of worship called bhuta kola, where an oracle or a priest channels the invoked spirit and interacts with its audience, by answering questions or solving quarrels. A similar custom, known as Theyyam, is followed in the North Malabar region of Kerala. Bhuta worship occurs on both, an intimate, family level where the worshippers carve out a niche in a tree or the inner walls of a house for the Bhuta to inhabit, or on a grand scale inviting the entire community or village to participate. The latter is usually held once a year, and lasts several nights. Ritual objects such as metal masks and ornaments are placed in sthaana (shrines) after the ceremony and offerings are made. The oracle, who plays the role of the diviner, is adorned in a heavy, colourful costume, make-up and metal ornaments. While bhuta ceremonies vary from region to region and on the basis of the spirit invoked, the common factors involve a highly charged atmosphere where the Paadannas-ancient narrative legends on bhuta worship-are recited by a female member of the community. "Singing of folk-epics or ballads (paadannas) depicting the story of the spirit concerned, the spectacular dance by the priest-impersonator possessed by the spirit, wearing gorgeous costumes, masks and high crowns of halo-like structure and making awe-inspiring cries and performing miracles and heroic feats and delivering the message of the divine spirit, curing diseases, and settling village disputes - all these make a festival of grand pageantry leaving a lasting impression on the spectator even if he is a non-believer." (P Upadhyaya and S Upadhyaya eds., Bhuta Worship, Udipi: The Regional Resources Centre for Folk Performing Arts, M G M College, 1984, p. 2) Bhuta worship lends itself to diverse art forms, including masks sculpted in bronze or carved in wood. Broadly, bhutas are classified into three categories, with masks of bronze or wood representing the invoked spirit. Bhutas can be spirits of totemic origin, such as the Panjurli (pig or boar), Pilichamundi (tiger) and Nandikona (bull) Bhutas. According to Nima Poovaya-Smith, "The animals represented are either predators like the tiger or an asset to the land like the bull, so that the choice of a totemic animal incorporates elements of both appeasement and celebration." (George Michell ed., Kanara: A Land Apart: The Artistic Heritage of Coastal Karnataka, Mumbai: Marg Publications, Vol. 64 No. 1, September 2012, p. 99) Bhutas are also deities of the Hindu pantheon. These include Shiva's attendants or ganas. Shiva himself is referred to as Bhutanatha, Lord of the bhutas. Bhutas can be apotheosized human beings or "heroes who became saints after their death along with the ones who died in tragic conditions and came back as tormenting spirits." (Frederic Rond, "Notes on Bhuta Rittual Masks," asianart.com, accessed online) Bobbaraya, the guardian of the seas and protector of fishermen, is one such bhuta. The metal alloys with which the masks are constructed render them resistant to the elements in the thickest parts. On the other hand, ornaments and features such as the horn and tongue tend to be brittle and delicate. Bhuta masks are objects of pride and the sculpting of these masks is an honoured and continuing craft tradition.
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Old 25th August 2018, 02:43 AM   #5
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Bandook,

Thank you again for this delightful description of Bhuta and his followers. Most informative. I have had the pleasure of visiting Mangalore on a business trip to the university medical school, and also was taken to Udipi. I am very fond of visiting the southern Karnataka and Kerala coast--an ancient part of the world, and a wonderful blend of cultures and religious groups.

Ian.
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Old 25th August 2018, 07:13 AM   #6
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Bandook
Thank you for all the information and detail about the religion.

Is the Bhuta religion any way related to the Nayar in that the swords they use in the ceremony are quiet similar.

if I am reading correctly The religion is very forward thinking in having females recite the famous battles and I also like the idea of using the ceremony’s to settle disputes


I am assuming these swords are quiet generic in design as it is a v v basic object in manafacture but would you have any idea if age of my sword

Thanks again for the time you took in your detailed reply

Ken
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Old 26th August 2018, 10:51 AM   #7
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Wow Ian ,I am realy Impressed you have visted Mangalore ,lots of educational colleges,universitys.,not many venture that way,Udipi is a famous town known for its famous Temple and once part of the Vijaynagar Empire which ruled most of South India and also the famous udipi restaurants which have become a big name in all big citys of India serving very delicious and popular south indian cuisine.Mysore and Coorg not far off.
Will soon post a battle helmet of the Vijaynagar period ,I also collect these bhuta masks and figures ,ritual items and am happy to srart a misc thread soon.
Thanks
Regards
Rajesh

Ian.[/QUOTE]
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Old 26th August 2018, 11:15 AM   #8
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Most welcome Ken
Yes the Bhuta region extends from Mangalore up to Northern Kerala,Malabar region.Many Hindu familys practice this tradition and Nairs of kerala and the Bunts of Mangalore were both a Warrior clan.In Kerala the performance is called Theyyam and the deitys are called Bhutan and in Mangalore its called as Bhuta Kola the deitys are called Bhutas ,and yes its used to settle disputes and things the family does not know about can be discussed with the bhuta performer ,now days both male and female recite the songs and the dance troop can only be from the Pambadas [tribe/clan] ,am also putting up some of my bhuta swords which I rescued from being melted at the scrap yard few weeks back missing the handles
regards
RAJESH
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