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Old 1st December 2019, 08:50 AM   #1
KharaghdariSingh
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Default Persian inscription- Late 18th century Shamshir

Hello everyone,

I have bought this Late 18th century Shamshir a while ago, with a Persian inscription on the inside of the hilt's knuckle guard. The Shamshir, from what the seller said, and what I've seen myself in the past, is from the late 18th century, from Punjab. The blade is composed of Dark Wootz(Irani Kara taban) The floral pattern on the hilt, I've seen on other hilts belonging to Punjab in that era. I was wondering if anyone is able to decipher the Persian inscription on the hilt?
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Old 1st December 2019, 01:24 PM   #2
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Dumb question: what is the difference between a shamshir and a tulwar? I have a tulwar nearly identical to the sword posted; has gold floral motif on hilt but blade is curved with double fullers and is mechanical damascus.

I thought shamshir had straight cross-bar guards and a hook style grip. Is it area of origin; shamshir being Persian but tulwar mainly of the Indian sub-continent?

Please clarify the difference for me. Sorry can't post a pic of my tulwar, but here is one similar from Google images
This is not my main area of interest (Nihonto), just one of several swords I've picked up in my 60+ years of collecting sharp pointy things.

Rich
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Old 1st December 2019, 03:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich
Dumb question: what is the difference between a shamshir and a tulwar?
I thought shamshir had straight cross-bar guards and a hook style grip. Is it area of origin; shamshir being Persian but tulwar mainly of the Indian sub-continent?
Rich


I will tell you the difference.
I suspect Kharaghdari Singh to be from Pakistan and in Pakistan swords are called shamshir and in India Tulwar.
So he is right.
It is us Westerners who are wrong...
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Old 1st December 2019, 03:32 PM   #4
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So it's not a matter of the swords origin, rather the owners??
Rich
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Old 1st December 2019, 03:49 PM   #5
Jens Nordlunde
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Here is another one with a gurmukhi inscription. 18th to early 19th century, probably Lahore.
According to the name game, the sword Kharaghdari Singh shows is a tulwar with a shamshir blade.
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Old 1st December 2019, 04:09 PM   #6
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I think you guys are just trying to confuse a senile old geezer.

At least with Nihonto a long sword is a daito; and sub-type if it's a katana, uchikatana or tachi. Which is determined by its mountings. Much easier nomenclature.

Rich
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Old 1st December 2019, 04:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich
Dumb question: what is the difference between a shamshir and a tulwar? I have a tulwar nearly identical to the sword posted; has gold floral motif on hilt but blade is curved with double fullers and is mechanical damascus.

I thought shamshir had straight cross-bar guards and a hook style grip. Is it area of origin; shamshir being Persian but tulwar mainly of the Indian sub-continent?

Please clarify the difference for me. Sorry can't post a pic of my tulwar, but here is one similar from Google images
This is not my main area of interest (Nihonto), just one of several swords I've picked up in my 60+ years of collecting sharp pointy things.

Rich



The name-game for oriental sabres is ongoing and has indefinite ending in sight. So I DO NOT KNOW THE "CORRECT" ANSWER (if there is any) to your question.

Nevertheless, I will give you MY interpretation of the names.

First, I believe that primarily the blade should be defining for the sword.

Shamshir blades are characterised by very deep curvature, are fairly narrow and have triangular (wedge) cross-section.

The shamshir, while traditionally Persian, was adopted by Mughal India, Ottoman empire and several other cultures. While they all share the narrow deeply curved blade, they are differentiated by the hilt.

So, you can have a PERSIAN Shamshir (first photo),
an INDIAN Shamshir (second photo - or the one in the original posting) or,
an OTTOMAN Shamshir (third photo) or,
an AFGHAN Shamshir (fourth photo).

The classic TULWAR has a wider blade with less curvature (like yours), "Indian ricasso" and the cross-section is flatter with scandi ground edge.
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Old 1st December 2019, 05:03 PM   #8
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OK, that makes some sense. The blade determines the type of sword, while the mounts determine the cultural origins,etc.

At least with Nihonto we only have to deal with one culture and country of origin.

Oh have I got a headache now and probably several fewer brain cells,

Rich
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Old 1st December 2019, 05:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Here is another one with a gurmukhi inscription. 18th to early 19th century, probably Lahore.
According to the name game, the sword Kharaghdari Singh shows is a tulwar with a shamshir blade.


Hello Jens,

I would call yours a Tulwar.
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Old 1st December 2019, 06:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
According to the name game, the sword Kharaghdari Singh shows is a tulwar with a shamshir blade.


Absolutely! 200% accurate!
Although, the same can be called "shamshir with a tulwar handle"
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Old 1st December 2019, 06:57 PM   #11
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The shamshir with the Tulwar hilt has a continuously narrowing tip with no signs of a false edge or Yelman. the Tulwar hilt with a Tulwar blade has a noticeable though small straightish 'Yelman' spine where the blade remains wide almost right to the tip and the back edge appears to have at least a false edge which may be sharpened somewhat.

O course as we are mostly westerners (or at least ESL* speakers), we get everything muddled up describing stuff in a language not of the weapon's original makers/users.

* - ESL=English as a second language - (As in I speak mostly American but have also learned ESL )
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Old 1st December 2019, 06:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich
I think you guys are just trying to confuse a senile old geezer.

At least with Nihonto a long sword is a daito; and sub-type if it's a katana, uchikatana or tachi. Which is determined by its mountings. Much easier nomenclature.

Rich




Rich,
I would heartily dispute your self description! and note that the understanding of Nihonto in itself is a paramount achievement which frankly reaches the complicated level of a science. With this, it is quite understandable that it is very specific in classifications and nomenclature, and extremely intimidating for collectors of sharp pointy things other than these amazing Japanese swords, including me of course.

With the subject of names for tulwar, shamshir etc. while the others have given remarkable and well detailed analysis of what we have long called 'the name game' here, I will add my own views.

Tulwar is an Indian term for sword, not necessarily otherwise specified, and can be applied to not only the familiar version with 'Indo-Persian' disc pommel hilt, but sabers with shamshir style hilts. In Indian parlance, even the Native cavalry sabers of British regulation pattern may be called 'tulwars'.
The shamshir is with distinctive hilt as you describe, is of course a Persian sword, and again, a term applied widely to sabers with other style hilts as described in Persian parlance.

As Mahratt has concisely noted, description rather than term is best in accurately classifying a weapon where such questions may be at hand.

With Persian script, this was of course common with the profound influences of Persia in the courts of Northern and Mughal India, as well as Bukhara.
As Jens has illustrated, the inscribing of inside of knuckleguard seems to have been a convention popular in N. India, and with gurmukhi script as was often found in Sikh weapons.
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Old 1st December 2019, 09:56 PM   #13
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Jim -

You are too kind, but thank you. Now I'm just a retired old geezer who has forgotten what he forgot.

Also thank who ever maintains the geographical index for keeping my Japanese sword site link. Unfortunately Jim Gilbert's Tsuba site is long gone. Sad as it was the best site for antique iron tsuba around. :-(

Rich

Last edited by Rich : 1st December 2019 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 1st December 2019, 10:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KharaghdariSingh
Hello everyone,

I have bought this Late 18th century Shamshir a while ago, with a Persian inscription on the inside of the hilt's knuckle guard. The Shamshir, from what the seller said, and what I've seen myself in the past, is from the late 18th century, from Punjab. The blade is composed of Dark Wootz(Irani Kara taban) The floral pattern on the hilt, I've seen on other hilts belonging to Punjab in that era. I was wondering if anyone is able to decipher the Persian inscription on the hilt?


I think it's not really Persian, but more likely Hindustani or Panjabi in Persian/Arabic letters. I'm not very experienced in reading this type of inscription, but the first word looks like کهندراو "Khanderao", which actually sounds more Maratha. There's a samvat date at the end - it says sam[v]at, with a date above it, the only numbers of which I can see are 2 and 7, which doesn't help that much. I supposed it could be Vikram Samvat [18]27, which would be 1770.

All the Sikh inscriptions I've seen on pieces of this type say akal saha'i ('may the Immortal One protect ...") followed by the name of the owner. This clearly isn't the same formula, however
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Old 2nd December 2019, 12:30 AM   #15
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To complicate things even further, Shamshir in Persia can be curved or straight, and in Afghanistan, pulwar and Central Asian pseudoshashkas are all shamshirs in local parlance. The bottom line, in Farsi Shamshir was a generic name for a sword, despite literal translation as lion’s tooth, or claw, or tail, depending on the imagination of the author and his preference for different parts of animal anatomy. Same with kilij in Turkish: straight, curved , recurved.

An amusing comment of Elgood on a particular short-bladed dagger stated that for Muslim it would be Khagda, but for a Hindu it would be Ch’hurri. Bichwa and Baku fall into the same bag.

In short, in the great majority of cases the names of different bladed weapons all were called one of the two: sword or knife, long or short. Rational, practical and 100% ethnically determined.
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Old 2nd December 2019, 03:41 PM   #16
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Yes Marius, I too would regard mine as a tulwar:-) - and maybe add, with an Indian blade.


Swords with a tulwar hilt are mostly/always called a tulwar, regardless if the blade is Persian, European, a copy of an European blade or an Indian blade. However, a kukri with a tulwar hilt is not a tulwar, but a kukri with a tulwar hilt. In this case we, suddenly, regard the blade as the most important.
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Old 2nd December 2019, 05:44 PM   #17
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Polish school of arms history and identification places hilts as a defining feature ( determines ethnicity and manner of fencing).
Other schools and individuals emphasize blades as the working part of the weapon.
There is no unified agreement whether this one should be called tulwar with shamshir blade or shamshir with tulwar blade.

The final word would unquestionably belong to the owner: if Muslim, he would likely use the latter variant, if Hindu - the former one. Both would be absolutely correct.

South Indians used straight European blades and called the final creation Firanghi. The same sword with Indian blade would be called Dhup in Deccan, and Asa Shamshir in North India.

Interesting what did they use for a saber with Indian hilt and British blade or Indian blade with British hilt:-)

Regretfully, the original owners are no longer answering our phone calls or e-mails:-(((
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Old 3rd December 2019, 09:50 AM   #18
KharaghdariSingh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwiatek
I think it's not really Persian, but more likely Hindustani or Panjabi in Persian/Arabic letters. I'm not very experienced in reading this type of inscription, but the first word looks like کهندراو "Khanderao", which actually sounds more Maratha. There's a samvat date at the end - it says sam[v]at, with a date above it, the only numbers of which I can see are 2 and 7, which doesn't help that much. I supposed it could be Vikram Samvat [18]27, which would be 1770.

All the Sikh inscriptions I've seen on pieces of this type say akal saha'i ('may the Immortal One protect ...") followed by the name of the owner. This clearly isn't the same formula, however


I believe the first letter of the inscription is an an "alif". The ک is just the part where the koftgari stops, and the inscription begins, although it does look like the letter.
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Old 3rd December 2019, 05:51 PM   #19
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I don’t think it can be an alif because it is joined to the next letter. That leaves lam or kaf/gaf. I would go for the latter as I’ve seen “Khanderao” on several inscriptions spelt this way, including for Khanderao Gaekwad, though I think this is earlier than that. I thought the word before sam[v]at might be “Narsingh” but it’s very hard to see
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Old 3rd December 2019, 06:26 PM   #20
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Now you are into a discussion where, few or any can follow you, so please tell us in which language it is, and from which area.
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Old 4th December 2019, 11:03 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
The name-game for oriental sabres is ongoing and has indefinite ending in sight. So I DO NOT KNOW THE "CORRECT" ANSWER (if there is any) to your question.

Nevertheless, I will give you MY interpretation of the names.

First, I believe that primarily the blade should be defining for the sword.

Shamshir blades are characterised by very deep curvature, are fairly narrow and have triangular (wedge) cross-section.

The shamshir, while traditionally Persian, was adopted by Mughal India, Ottoman empire and several other cultures. While they all share the narrow deeply curved blade, they are differentiated by the hilt.

So, you can have a PERSIAN Shamshir (first photo),
an INDIAN Shamshir (second photo - or the one in the original posting) or,
an OTTOMAN Shamshir (third photo) or,
an AFGHAN Shamshir (fourth photo).

The classic TULWAR has a wider blade with less curvature (like yours), "Indian ricasso" and the cross-section is flatter with scandi ground edge.


Agreed. In Punjab, this sword is actually called a "goliya," due to the wider curve of the blade, and a thick spine from the piercing point of the blade till the hilt; as opposed to the tulwar, which has less of a curve, and usually no spine.
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Old 4th December 2019, 12:58 PM   #22
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As per Elgood’s text in the Jodhpur book, names ending in “- rao” or starting in “khan-“ are seen among Rajastani inscriptions. And the overall style of decoration would fit. In short, I doubt Deccani attribution.
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Old 4th December 2019, 01:49 PM   #23
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I wouldn’t suggest this was Deccani. Just that owner’s first name may have been “Khanderao” or a variant on it, though I may be wrong. The most famous Khanderaos were the Maratha ruler Khanderao Gaekwad of Baroda in Gujarat and Apa Khanderao, the Maratha general who under the Scindias of Gwalior took quite a bit of North India including Haryana. As I say though, late Indian inscriptions are not my forte and I can ask someone I know who specializes in them

Last edited by kwiatek : 4th December 2019 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 4th December 2019, 09:37 PM   #24
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Ok the language/inscription are important, but have any one taken an interest in the decoration?
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Old 10th December 2019, 01:48 PM   #25
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