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Old 25th March 2013, 01:52 PM   #1
Neil
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Default Books on Indian and regional swords

Books on Indian and regional swords
I was hoping for recommendations on the best books to learn about swords of India. Thanks for your help.
Neil
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Old 25th March 2013, 05:50 PM   #2
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Neil,

A couple off the top if my head is the Indian Sword by Rawson as well as Indian and oriental arms and armour by Edgerton. However, I feel that I learned the most from this forum, as well as websites for Indian arms for sale.

Kind regards

Ron H
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Old 25th March 2013, 06:29 PM   #3
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Hi Neil,
Its good to hear of your interest in the swords of India, one of the most fascinating fields of ethnographic weapons, and expectedly, probably one of the most complex. It would be good to know your more strategic interests to better facilitate recommending references, but the basics are:

"Hindu Arms and Ritual" Robert Elgood, 2004. In my opinion one of the most valuable references as it well covers many of the subjective perspectives of these arms, while others are primarily overall typology and classifications which often do not attend to variations.

"Indian Arms and Armour" G.N.Pant, 1980. Difficult to find at times and a large but usually poorly bound book, has valuable references and most useful guidelines and descriptions.Along with Elgood, I think essential for effective study of these arms, especially with regard to many hilt forms. While classification is useful on these, especially tulwars, it is rather arbitrarily applied and better regional instances remain pending as research continues.

"The Indian Sword" , P. Rawson, 1967. One of the standard references long venerated, and written as general cataloguing of arms in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Good attention to blade forms and many shown in silhouette plates. Certain flaws are limited and addressed by Pant in his work.

"Arms and Armour:Traditional Weapons of India" E. Jaiwent Paul.
An excellent overview with great illustrations and interesting details.

"Handbook of Indian and Oriental Arms" Egerton, modern reprint of the 1880 reference which set the standard for study of Indian arms and remains a venerable benchmark. I think it is a reprint by Dover.

These are the typically referred to references and of course we have been discussing these weapons here for over 16 years. By using the search feature on the header line on this page you can find details on specific topics. Among the members here who I regard as best versed in these arms are Jens Nordlund, Freebooter (Gav) and R.Sword and you will see this in thier posts.

Looking forward to your posts and queries!!! Hope these titles will help getting started.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 25th March 2013, 06:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Neil,
Its good to hear of your interest in the swords of India, one of the most fascinating fields of ethnographic weapons, and expectedly, probably one of the most complex. It would be good to know your more strategic interests to better facilitate recommending references, but the basics are:

"Hindu Arms and Ritual" Robert Elgood, 2004. In my opinion one of the most valuable references as it well covers many of the subjective perspectives of these arms, while others are primarily overall typology and classifications which often do not attend to variations.

"Indian Arms and Armour" G.N.Pant, 1980. Difficult to find at times and a large but usually poorly bound book, has valuable references and most useful guidelines and descriptions.Along with Elgood, I think essential for effective study of these arms, especially with regard to many hilt forms. While classification is useful on these, especially tulwars, it is rather arbitrarily applied and better regional instances remain pending as research continues.

"The Indian Sword" , P. Rawson, 1967. One of the standard references long venerated, and written as general cataloguing of arms in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Good attention to blade forms and many shown in silhouette plates. Certain flaws are limited and addressed by Pant in his work.

"Arms and Armour:Traditional Weapons of India" E. Jaiwent Paul.
An excellent overview with great illustrations and interesting details.

"Handbook of Indian and Oriental Arms" Egerton, modern reprint of the 1880 reference which set the standard for study of Indian arms and remains a venerable benchmark. I think it is a reprint by Dover.

These are the typically referred to references and of course we have been discussing these weapons here for over 16 years. By using the search feature on the header line on this page you can find details on specific topics. Among the members here who I regard as best versed in these arms are Jens Nordlund, Freebooter (Gav) and R.Sword and you will see this in thier posts.

Looking forward to your posts and queries!!! Hope these titles will help getting started.

All the best,
Jim

Egertons book IS a reprint by Dover www.doverpublications.com ISBN 0-486-42229-1 If not still available from them, then try www.abebooks.com
Stu
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Old 25th March 2013, 07:01 PM   #5
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Per usual, Jim is right on the money and his suggestions are excellent.

I would only add the 'ole' classic Stone's A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times because of its more likely inclusion of the "regional" weapons you may be referring to, for instance from Ceylon(Sri Lanka) or Nepal, or the Coorg or Naga people which fit very much into the realm of Indian weapons, but don't share the same characteristics as those more commonly associated with India.
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Old 25th March 2013, 08:14 PM   #6
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Default Books on indian swords

Hi, check this bookstore: D.K. Agencies ( dkagencies.com), located in Delhi. They have all the Pant books about indian arms and armour and also a couple of interesting museum catalogs.
Regards, Timo
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Old 25th March 2013, 08:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
Per usual, Jim is right on the money and his suggestions are excellent.

I would only add the 'ole' classic Stone's A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times because of its more likely inclusion of the "regional" weapons you may be referring to, for instance from Ceylon(Sri Lanka) or Nepal, or the Coorg or Naga people which fit very much into the realm of Indian weapons, but don't share the same characteristics as those more commonly associated with India.



Thanks very much Charles!
Well said on Stone!!! How the heck could I forget the 'cornerstone' of every arms library!
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Old 26th March 2013, 04:44 AM   #8
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Thank you guys for your input. I really appreciate the advice. I have Rawson, Paul, and Stone. They do not appear to have the depth I am looking for though. I will look to the other works mentioned, and continue reading the forum threads to further my studies.
Thanks again,
Neil
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Old 26th March 2013, 11:22 AM   #9
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If it's greater depth that you are looking for, Neil, then Elgood's work should certainly satisfy your needs in his area of research.
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Old 26th March 2013, 12:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
If it's greater depth that you are looking for, Neil, then Elgood's work should certainly satisfy your needs in his area of research.


Does anyone have thoughts on Elgoods book "Islamic Arms and Armour". I see it was first published in 1979.
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Old 26th March 2013, 03:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil
Does anyone have thoughts on Elgoods book "Islamic Arms and Armour". I see it was first published in 1979.



It's good, quite rare, and expensive. It is a very well illustrated scholarly work.

Personally, I prefer Hindu Arms and Ritual, perhaps only because I heard his forum lecture regarding the book and its subject some years ago in Baltimore, and it seems a little fresher to me.
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Old 26th March 2013, 04:42 PM   #12
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Charles that is a spot on assessment of Robert Elgoods "Hindu Arms and Ritual" , and it is indeed 'fresher' because he has taken an approach to 'understanding' these arms rather than simply cataloguing them in arbitrary classifications. As I mentioned, this is far and above that of virtually all writers before him. I believe the reason for this is that other writers in scholarly context have had a certain kind of fear of addressing more subjective aspects of ethnographic weapons.

One of the key figures and early writers in the study of ethnographic arms was Sir Richard Burton ("Book of the Sword" 1885), and is somewhat dismissive on such aspects of ethnographic weapons, noting the efforts of Professor Gustav Oppert ("On the Weapons etc. of the Ancient Hindus", 1880) as rather insufficient. He refers to this perspective as absurdity and that the Hindus attribute everything on weapons to metaphysical and supernatural. I believe this unfortunately narrow minded approach to the study of ethnographic arms in general, not just India, has virtually hamstrung the understanding of them even into modern scholarship..that is until Robert took his innovative stand. His concerns that his book might be too far into such areas has proven quite unfounded, and in my opinion, exactly the perspective in which these arms should be studied.

"Islamic Arms and Armour" (1979) was actually a compendium of papers written by various authors and edited by Robert Elgood. While these are especially useful they are quite esoteric and attend more to general aspects of Islamic arms, with good benchmark and research data for broader research. There is actually little specifically on Indian arms aside from the scientific investigation on decoration in a two page item, interesting but not detailed necessarily in comparison to subsequent material.
For a good overview on metallurgy and some beautifully illustrated Indian tulwars I would get the work by the late Dr. Leo Figiel, "On Damascus Steel" (1991, on Amazon.com).

Thus far in my opinion there has been no effectively accurate classification of tulwar hilts in regional application, but Pant's work does set some valuable precedents and guidelines (research continues).

As has been noted Neil, there have been many significant contributions on these pages over the years, and we would welcome any specific questions greatly. This is exactly what this forum is here for, and specifically posed questions enable us to address the topic accordingly, where the material becomes archived and useful to all including future research.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 27th March 2013, 12:09 PM   #13
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A great question and some very well qualified answers.

Searching through the forums is certainly the best method for starting your research.
You'll find some great topics and some really good reference books supplied by Jens, Rand and others....most of which I personally have tracked down and bought and others have been found along the way too...it really is surprising how many titles are out there.

One that comes to mind is Orez Perski, Persian Arms and Armour. There are some good Indian and Indo Persian swords within.
Arts of the Muslim Knight is a worthy addition to any library.
Islamic weapons in Danish private Collections is worth the buy if you can find it and afford it.
As noted, not a lot of these titles speak volumes but every image and every word is key to understanding many aspects.
Personally, for my money, the titles already mentioned such as Figiel and Pant are the best bang for buck.

Gav
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