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Old 5th May 2009, 11:17 AM   #1
Gavin Nugent
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Default Straight bladed Tulwar

After recently viewing a straight bladed Tulwar some questions have arisen;

What relevance does it have in the Indian arsenal when 99% are curved?
Are they region specific or unit specific?

Gav
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Old 5th May 2009, 05:14 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Hi Gav,
Interesting question! and just noticed this.

I think this goes to the difficulty in specific classifications and terminology.
The term 'tulwar' seems to be somewhat generic liguistically and generally refers to the familiar 'Indo'Muslim' hilt (as termed by Rawson) well known mostly in northwest India regions. The term itself derives from the Persian 'paluoar' which is now applied to the Afghan version of these hilts with drooping quillons.

In G.N.Pant ("Indian Arms and Armour", New Delhi, 1980, p.104), it is noted regarding the talwar blade that, "...it includes practically all kinds of slightly curved blades and they vary enormously in size, curvature and quality".

It is futher discussed that the talwar was considered the Muslim sword 'par excellence' , which refers to its prevalence in the Mughal sphere in India.

Rawson ( "The Indian Sword", Copenhagen, 1967) notes that the straight blade was preferred in Central and southwest India with the Marathas.
While straight blades were used by these tribes, and to the north with the Rajput use of the khanda/firangi and other instances of these largely basket hilted straight blade swords, there are always of course variations.

Pant (op.cit. p.82, fig. 170) does show a line drawing of a tulwar type hilt with open upward swept knuckleguard, mounted on a clearly straight double edged khanda type blade. There is no mention of this illustration as a type, but appears with text discussing the firangi and khanda, therefore may be considered a khanda with this style hilt.

Since sword fighting techniques of the northwest with primarily Mughals, Sikhs and Rajputs using the talwar favoring slashing and draw cuts prevail, it would seem unusual for a straight blade to be mounted on a talwar hilt.
This would not preclude the fact that the Rajputs, with perplexingly mixed allegiances with these and other groups at various times, used both the khanda as well as the talwar.
Either this application in Rajput use, or perhaps an anomaly of singular preference might explain the combination, but the straight blade on talwars as far as I can recall seems unlikely. I will say that I have seen examples of tulwar hilts mounted with kaskara blades, but again, not a common occurrence.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 5th May 2009, 10:54 PM   #3
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Here is one of mine to go with the subject. Quality blade circa 1850.

Cheers
bbjw
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Old 5th May 2009, 11:42 PM   #4
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Yay BJ!!
Well there you have it, they definitely do exist!!
While still no defining term for one of these, the hilt appears to be Rajasthan style and about the date you assess.

In the immortal words of Desi Arnaz, "Ok , 'splain THIS Lucy!!!''

Thanks for posting this BJ,
All the best,
Jim
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Old 6th May 2009, 02:17 AM   #5
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Here's another, wootz, Bikaner marked .
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Old 6th May 2009, 04:17 AM   #6
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What are they called? Dhup? Sukhela? I am away from the books.....
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Old 6th May 2009, 05:24 AM   #7
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Default Well thank you gentlemen

Well thank you gentlemen.

If only I had your library Jim, your years of research shine through again.

The Tulwar I handled was exactly the same styles as you all presented and single edged. Most interesting and thank you for sharing examples you have in your collection guys. Thank you BBJW and Rick...wooooooottttzzzz...hmmmmm....yyuuuummmmmmm.

Seeing the differences in quality certainly adds to my thoughts that these in some circles were a very respected sword and not just produced for the masses.

Best regards

Gav
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Old 6th May 2009, 06:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
What are they called? Dhup? Sukhela? I am away from the books.....



Thats it Ariel!!! Exactly the term I couldnt remember.......nicely done, looks like your memory is workin OK

Apparantly SE India, the straight blade examples are 'sukhela' and in the Deccan, the 'dhup'. I better make sure to check my notes. While it seems that the tulwar hilt is still unusual with these blades, it would seem that these terms are the ones you're looking for Gav (and thank you for the kind words I did see a note that states that rather than for combat, these were essentially 'swords of state' and Tipu Sultan's sword (one of them) was a tulwar hilted straight sword.

Thanks for the great example there as well Rick, beautiful blade!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 6th May 2009, 04:42 PM   #9
Jens Nordlunde
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Interesting discussion.

Stone. Dhoup. A straight bladed Indian sword. It has a disc pommel with a spike and a broad finger guard. It is much used in Deccan. (Egerton 527). Apparently the same as the khanda.

Robert Elgood in Hindu Arms and Ritual. Dhup (Marathi). Straight, broad-bladed sword from Deccan. The blade was about four feet long and it has a cross hilt. It was considered an emblem of authority and was conferred as a mark of distinction on successful soldiers, nobles and favourites. Irvin. Known to the Mughals as a staff sword – as shamshir (Arabic asa, a staff; using a sword as a staff). Also known as a sakhela due to the common use of this steel for the manufacture of this sword.
Sakhela/Sukhela. Shiny Indian steel with a low carbon contends which renders it flexible. Also used as a description of a type of a sword blade and by extension as the name of the sword. Egerton quotes an Indian proverb: ‘baudde sakhela, ruhe akela’ which he translates as ‘put on a sakhela and you may remain alone’. Jahangir in the Tuzuk refers to a sword which ‘flexed like a real Yemeni or southern blade’.
A few examples exist of swords made from two types of steel with one blade-face of sakhela and the other watered in the Persian style. Aurangzeb possessed one, now in the Delhi museum. For another from Bareilly see Watt 1903, p. 473.
Examples seen by the author appear to date between 1650 and 1750 and are short swords, usually associated with the Deccan where they are called ‘chap’.

There is also the kirach, which is not completely straight, but almost.
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Old 6th May 2009, 06:26 PM   #10
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Excellent Jens! Thank you for adding these terms and the detail. It seems I've always been focused on the pata and firangi/khanda as straight swords and tulwars were typically curved....completely forgetting about these....and worse, how could I forget that sword of Tipu's!!
I think the old researcher here is slippin', but OK now......got the notes revised accordingly.
Gav, thank you again for posting this, and everybody for the excellent examples and detail.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 6th May 2009, 07:13 PM   #11
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The discussion about tulwar's with straight blades, is to my opinion wrong. As far as I know a tulwar is a sword with an Indian hilt and a slightly curved, and relatively broad blade. If the blade is less broad and more curved, it is a tulwar with a shamshir blade, and if the blade is straight, it must belong to another group.
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Old 6th May 2009, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
The discussion about tulwar's with straight blades, is to my opinion wrong. As far as I know a tulwar is a sword with an Indian hilt and a slightly curved, and relatively broad blade. If the blade is less broad and more curved, it is a tulwar with a shamshir blade, and if the blade is straight, it must belong to another group.



Thank you Jens, that is somewhat reassuring, that my complacency and presumption that this was the case was at least properly held in degree.

But now I'm confused, would this suggest that the dhup is essentially a khanda with altered form of hilt, somewhat of tulwar form?
And the term sukhela actually refers more to the type of steel used.
The straight blade sword of Tipu it seems used the term, but again, it was a sword of state, with an open hilt 'tulwar'style hilt.

It seems that semantics and linguistics with terminology really play havoc in trying to discuss and classify these weapons.

While the term shamshir in India applies to the deep curve and narrow (typicall unricassoed) blade on sabres of various hilt forms, it seems I have heard that the term in Persia is widely applied to swords in general, with qualifying descriptive terms added.

The term 'tulwar' itself is also supposed to be a rather collectively applied term in the Indian language for sword, derived from the Persian 'paluoar' for a curved blade I believe. Naturally that term as spelled in that way is used to to describe the Afghani sabre of Indo-Muslim hilt form with drooping quillons.

Maybe Shakespeare was right?
A tulwar by any other name is still a.......uh.....a....uh???? '

All the best,
Jim
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Old 6th May 2009, 09:15 PM   #13
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In my opinion neither of the examples shown in this thread are 'kirach' ; so what are they called ?
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Old 6th May 2009, 09:30 PM   #14
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Hi Rick,
I did not say that any of the swords shown were a kirash, and I did not say what I would call any of the other swords shown. I only said that the kirach was also almost straight.
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Old 7th May 2009, 07:06 PM   #15
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Default Straight blade use

From "playing" around with my straight bladed tulwar I thought they would have best been used much the same as a Patton sword. Stabbing from horseback like a short lance. Pumpkins in my case with a Patton before they became too valuable to play with.

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Old 8th May 2009, 09:56 PM   #16
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Hi Jim,
Have a look at what Elgood says about the Dhup. 'A blade of about four feet', and then read what Stone writes. 'Apparently the same as the khanda.' But Stone does not comment on how long the blade is, which I find interesting.
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