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Old 6th March 2019, 08:48 PM   #31
Jens Nordlunde
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Jim, are you sure it was only due to Arabian trade?
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Old 6th March 2019, 09:51 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Jim, are you sure it was only due to Arabian trade?



No, surely there were others, but I think of the trade between India's western coasts and the Muscat traders in terms of possible shared influences in decoration as described in Ibrahiims Omani items. It does seem that these trade networks far predated the periods we are discussing, and those details I am not sure of at this point without further research.
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Old 7th March 2019, 03:14 AM   #33
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One can google British filigree, Czech, Ukrainian, Moroccan, Norwegian, Dutch, Japanese, Brazilian etc, etc. My first two examples in post #20 are Ottoman. It was and is everywhere. Everybody either “invented” or borrowed it. One would have hard time trying to prove primacy of South India.
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Old 7th March 2019, 03:35 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
One can google British filigree, Czech, Ukrainian, Moroccan, Norwegian, Dutch, Japanese, Brazilian etc, etc. My first two examples in post #20 are Ottoman. It was and is everywhere. Everybody either “invented” or borrowed it. One would have hard time trying to prove primacy of South India.


I think actually what we are trying determine, as asked in the OP, is if there was any particular significance, representation, symbolism, auspicious connotation or any such connection to examples from South India. It seems somehow we have lost track of that with comparisons elsewhere.
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Old 7th March 2019, 01:26 PM   #35
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Maybe the beaded edges were auspicious at a certain time and place, and went out of fashion, but was copied at some other place and time as decoration - only.
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Old 7th March 2019, 02:52 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Maybe the beaded edges were auspicious at a certain time and place, and went out of fashion, but was copied at some other place and time as decoration - only.


That is an excellent suggestion Jens! and actually quite likely in some cases. I think that in examining instances of this type decoration there is no broad axiom which can be used, and each must be considered by its own merits.
I had hoped to find more detail on beading or filigree in Pant (1980), but the references to filigree were just descriptive without detail.

It was interesting however that some of the earlier Nair 'temple swords' had filigree in the decorative detail. These swords of Siviganga in Tamil Nadu were apparently made to recall earlier fighting swords but became votive and religiously used ceremonial swords by the 17th century.
As these swords were produced specifically for such traditional use perhaps the filgree elements did have auspicious tone in these cases.
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Old 8th March 2019, 12:26 AM   #37
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Hi all, sorry I can't post as often, I just have some things going on in my personal life currently. Hope you all can understand.

Addressing an earlier bit brought up by Jim, I was mostly concerned with it being related to architecture because, as I detailed in my OP, that was the only explanation I heard about online. I think that was a wild goose chase though.

Good job looking at the international filigree! I very much agree that we would have to find a firm date for when most beaded hilts came up though, in order to better determine when exactly it came in to fashion and whether it might be due to European influence. Personally I find the connection with rapiers to be rather hard to believe. Sure they're pretty looking, but I think if Indians truly wanted to copy rapier, they would do more than just copy the beaded aesthetic that occasionally appeared on them. Just my opinion though.

Once again though I find myself agreeing with Jim about it possibly evolving more naturally, passed down from earlier designs. Does anyone have any examples of this early Indian filigree? I can't say I've ever actually heard about there being any kind of fine decoration on these swords, outside of their pure sculptural value as objects.
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Old 8th March 2019, 03:36 AM   #38
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Actually, Indians did copy European rapiers: recall Firangi and D- guards. They also valued European blades and guards, and combined them with their native sword parts. Arnachellum made a fortune making slightly mutated British hunting knives. And I am not even touching Chinese-inspired decorations and jade handles, Persian khahjars, Georgian kindjal blades, Ottoman yataghan blades, Turkish Palas, etc.

Oriental armorers followed fashions with abandon, and borrowed foreign ideas left and right, similar to their European colleagues adopting Oriental ideas. Eventually, militaries all over the world adopted virtually identical bladed weapons.
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Old 8th March 2019, 02:01 PM   #39
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Nihl, no need to apologize, trust me I think most of us are with you, and the resounding drama of every day life takes precedence!
I like very much that you posed a most intriguing query here, and you also included your established research and line of thinking toward it. This set a valuable benchmark for discussion, which has for the most part developed very well.

As has been well addressed by Robert Elgood, the presence of architectural designs is well established in many Indian weapons and their decoration, as they have become religiously oriented in themselves. In this the designs and decoration often reflect temples, iconography and the naturally religious themes.


With this being the case, I think your effort to determine possible symbolism in this distinct style of decoration is well placed. The observations on similar use in other contexts and in other cultural spheres were I think simply to reflect the scope of this type decoration in considering outside influences.


As has been noted, the European influence is certainly feasible, and indeed highly effected Indian culture in many aspects of material culture. It is well known that European art, much of it in grimoires and herbals, became firmly emplaced in much Mughal art and design. With weapons, while trade blades became a commercial entity post contact, the influence of hilt designs, foremost that of the 'basket hilt' added to the khanda was profoundly notable.

With these khanda, termed 'Hindu basket hilt' (and further 'firangi' with foreign blade) some even had rapier blades, despite the fact that fencing and such European sword play had nothing to do with Indian techniques.


The influences of art, philosophy, religion etc. transcend any sort of boundaries, and with the ever present conditions of trade, colonialism and cultural expansion, are virtually inevitable.


Tradition and commemoration are typically what carries forth the use of earlier designs, style and such features from earlier periods within a particular culture. This is one of the great difficulties in assessing ethnographic arms in that the same forms have remained in use for centuries and often must be examined for highly nuanced and subtle clues in their character. That is what is so compelling here with this very valid query, and it is great to see the ideas and approaches at work.
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Old 8th March 2019, 03:18 PM   #40
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Indian beadwork is well recorded in Indian jewellery going back to early Hindu beginnings and I have shown similar decorative style in Arms. what I can now add to the discussion are examples in Armour(A Vambrace circa mid 1600) and artwork (to help define the use of beads in art) beadwork therefor seems to have found a link to jewellery and traditional artwork so that the leap from there to arms and armour would seem a normal move involving simple pattern styles and accepted practice. Architecture is not so obvious (if it exists at all) perhaps because of the scale of the objects and the practicality of using beadwork on buildings simply isn't logical ..beadwork is by nature almost miniscule whereas buildings are in gigantic scale.
My Reference is India 1300 to 1900 A Met Museum Publication.
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Old 8th March 2019, 03:20 PM   #41
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The Japamala or Mala is a praying string of beans used by the Hindus, Buddhiists, the Jains and some of the Sikhs.
Mostly there are 108 beans but other numbers can also be seen. The number of 108 is important as it can be devided with 9, and 9 is an important number.
For the rest of the explanation you can Google:-).
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Old 8th March 2019, 08:42 PM   #42
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Very good point Ibrahiim about use of beaded edges on architecture as its size is of course more conducive to larger decorative components.
Interesting note Jens on the Hindu prayer beads also used in these other faiths. It does seem that beads have religious connotation in most Faiths and may lend to ornamentation in many forms of material culture.
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Old 8th March 2019, 10:27 PM   #43
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Oh yes good job Ibrahiim on the link with jewelry and armor. Iirc there is an image of a similar vambrace in Elgood's Hindu A&R. Unfortunately I do not have the book with me currently so I am unable to reference exactly where it is. I did take a number of pictures of different figures from the book (the vambrace not being one of them), and in referencing those I was able to find a number of old swords with beaded edges on their hilts that were all dated to the 16th and 17th centuries.

While not to say that this counts as conclusive evidence, in doing a quick google image search of antique Indian jewelry there are numerous examples of pieces with beaded elements - borders and outlines and such. While of course this isn't exactly surprising as rows of precious stones or gilded spheres or what have you all look quite impressive, I think it does provide a bit more evidence towards the idea of it being a naturally evolving aesthetic. This design does also parallel the beaded edges on arms and armor, as both seem to only really be used to provide a border around the outside of the object.

As a side note, the lens that I am personally trying to solve this through is indeed one where these beads are a native invention of sorts and not one copied from foreign examples. Though I certainly don't doubt that there could be some European or other outside influence to it, it just seems to me that such a persistent reoccurring design has to has some sort of native meaning or origin point, even if it is just to make stuff look prettier.

Since I kinda brought it up, I'll look into the correlation between holy numbers and the numbers of "beads" on these objects in my own time, but I think for now establishing when exactly this aesthetic moved onto arms and armor (i.e. finding the earliest dated examples of it) would be the next best thing to do. Currently the earliest examples on swords all seem to date to the 17th century, and only a couple have been dated to the 16th century from what I've seen.

Included are some of the more obvious examples of beaded edges/borders/whatever on Indian jewelry (admittedly not all them are antiques though).
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Old 9th March 2019, 12:55 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl
it just seems to me that such a persistent reoccurring design has to has some sort of native meaning or origin point, even if it is just to make stuff look prettier.


Very fair point.
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Old 9th March 2019, 01:05 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl
This design does also parallel the beaded edges on arms and armor, as both seem to only really be used to provide a border around the outside of the object.


In architecture, there are also borders around the outside of the object. Is similar decoration used in Indian architecture?
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Old 10th March 2019, 07:08 PM   #46
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In beads there is some aspect possibly linked to metalwork and thus designs in arms and armour. I think some care should be taken when looking at the beads above as they are possibly not all the same style of decoration and could be either small miri bota (leaf pattern) or small water mellon seed designs not the sort of border bead we are looking for... however, this is all good research as it allows members to focus on the various techniques involved. I think there is a distinction however between beadwork and bead impression in art and beadwork attached to textiles as well as bead work in metalwork… In Western India for example beadwork on textiles didn't arrive until the late 19th C according to the book attached below; The front cover has a band of beaded textile running above the title but this is far too late for our subject thus textiles may be sidelined in this respect.

Clearly we need to be on an earlier decorative form which Hindu jewellery does seem to indicate... It carries a much older ticket after all at about 4000 years.
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Old 10th March 2019, 07:19 PM   #47
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Hindu jewellery… As a decorative form this specialization could well be linked in the distant past to metalworking in Arms and Armour. Here is a book with many examples in Hindu Jewellery which rather suggests a link.
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Old 10th March 2019, 07:26 PM   #48
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The next reference is an excellent pocket book on the Mughal Empire and rather confirms that architecture is not the medium in which this beaded border form is obvious perhaps because of my earlier thought on the difficulty of size … we are looking at Taj Mahal and Red Fort sized mega buildings and Temples and Mausoleums etc.
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Old 11th March 2019, 11:02 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Hindu jewellery… As a decorative form this specialization could well be linked in the distant past to metalworking in Arms and Armour. Here is a book with many examples in Hindu Jewellery which rather suggests a link.

Very good research. Million thanks.
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Old 11th March 2019, 11:10 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
... and rather confirms that architecture is not the medium in which this beaded border form is obvious perhaps ...


Absolutely right again.
Architectural forms are closely associated with either Buddhism or official Hinduism (it is clear that the Mughal architecture should be excluded from consideration). Our beads have another origin.
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Old 11th March 2019, 04:07 PM   #51
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If you really want to go into architectural details, Google " crenellated wall india" ( couple of examples below)

Just pay attention: some images in this series are from Italy, West Africa, Jerusalem, France, Poland etc etc. Crenellation is one of the most popular architectural designs, originally intended for purely military purposes ( see three last images with very early European castle wall, predating Indian fancier examples ), but later becoming a decoration.

Personally, I doubt there is any symbolic or sacral connection between different crenellations ( architecture on the one hand vs. jewelry, weapons etc.).

And, re. your assertion that Mughal architecture should not be counted, the upper right image, with the prettiest onion-like crenellations, the closest to the decorative ones on the handles and jewelry, is a part of Taj Mahal, the ultimate Mughal architectural monument.
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Old 11th March 2019, 04:17 PM   #52
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Interesting additions Ariel and in particular the domes over what appear to be stone Chhatri on top of a Mausoleum or Palace .. Not quite the beaded dot we are looking at in the closer companion to those on arms and armour but an interesting study all the same. I was quite surprised at the crenellations which are taller than a man … and which appear as arches in the likeness to Islamic archways...which I think were amalgamated with Hindu arches by the Mughals.
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Old 11th March 2019, 04:30 PM   #53
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Interesting additions Ariel and in particular the domes over what appear to be stone Chhatri on top of a Mausoleum or Palace .. Not quite the beaded dot we are looking at in the closer companion to those on arms and armour but an interesting study all the same. I was quite surprised at the crenellations which are taller than a man … and which appear as arches in the likeness to Islamic archways...which I think were amalgamated with Hindu arches by the Mughals.

In fact from http://islamicarch.blogspot.com/~ Quote."Arches were not used in India before Islamic times where trabeate construction was the main method of roofing an area. However, arches were regarded as essential by the first Muslim rulers who built arched screens in front of trabeate structures such as the Quwwat al-Islam Mosque in Delhi. Even the screens of the earliest Indian mosques were not composed of true arches but were corbelled structures made to look like arches. So this is purely and souley Islamic architecture at it’s best!" Unquote.
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Old 11th March 2019, 04:31 PM   #54
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I do not think these are Ch'hatris: just garden variety arches, another architectural detail hailing back at least to Roman times.
The last image is Damascus Gate in the wall of Old City, Jerusalem, built by Suleiman the Magnificient, 100+ years before Taj Mahal. Look at its crenellations.
And you are correct: Mughal borrowed from Hindu architecture the same way as other things. Not for nothing they were "Indo-Persian".
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Old 11th March 2019, 04:31 PM   #55
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I think the architectural connections to edged weapon hilts in Hindu instances are indeed heavily connected, as well explained through many examples in Robert Elgood's "Hindu Arms & Ritual" (2004) and often discussed here over the years. Naturally the Hindu and Buddhist Faiths were in many circumstances syncretically aligned in degree, and the material culture often carried influences of their traditions and symbolism.

The Mughal arts, while deeply inspired by Persian verse and styles also seem to have often adopted of course elements of the Hindu and Buddhist artistic manner in degree. As noted, while Mughal architecture in India was certainly present , it does not seem necessarily prevalent in these kinds of decoration.

It does seem however that in the tulwar hilt, the flueret terminals of Deccani forms seem to reflect Muslim character, as do the distinctive langet style which have been suggested to resemble architectural elements such as the Mighrab. In other instances Muslim hilts pommels are sometimes believed to reflect the domes of Minarets.


While not necessarily relevent here of course, these suggestions and examples of Muslim architectural presence in hilts are simply noted as references in consideration. As Ibrahiim and Mercenary have both noted, Muslim/Mughal architecture I agree does not seem to be our influence source here.


Emphatically, the beads do seem to come from influences in other material culture and great examples shown here in textiles and especially jewellery.
I think one of the key references Jens has long used in the study of hilt designs and decoration is one on Indian jewellery (I cannot think of the title).

Jewellers have long been the artisans creating hilt decoration, regardless of culture and this has been the case into recent and modern times. They are the metalworkers skilled in the often flamboyant and detailed designs and application of precious stones etc. as well as inscribing, engraving and precious metal inlay.

It stands to reason that jewellery would provide influences and inspiration for many forms of decoration on hilts, the beading notwithstanding. While of course some sort of 'beading' might be found architecturally, I would think its influence subordinate to that of jewellery in this case.


On that note, personally I don't think of beading and crenellation in the same context in that crenellation is distinctly architectural, specifically in fortification design (in purpose) but often followed otherwise in design but in other architecture. It would not be used in the delicate manner of beading in my opinion.
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Old 11th March 2019, 04:49 PM   #56
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Agree. Architecture is a dead end in the search for the origin of beading: no connection to jewelry in all its applications.


We are left with two possibilities:
1. Beading was just a " prettyfying" design, devoid of any deep significance.
2. Beading has deep sacral meaning. Proponents of this theory should find primary sources supporting this hypothesis.
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Old 11th March 2019, 05:17 PM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercenary
Absolutely right again.
Architectural forms are closely associated with either Buddhism... Our beads have another origin.

Sino-Tibetan style of Buddhist bronze sculpture. Beginning of the 15th century.
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Old 11th March 2019, 05:51 PM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Agree. Architecture is a dead end in the search for the origin of beading: no connection to jewelry in all its applications.


We are left with two possibilities:
1. Beading was just a " prettyfying" design, devoid of any deep significance.
2. Beading has deep sacral meaning. Proponents of this theory should find primary sources supporting this hypothesis.


I'm going with #1. Simplest reason is usually the best.
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Old 11th March 2019, 06:08 PM   #59
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Courtesy of James McElhinney & Peter Dekker.
Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese under strong Tibetan influence.
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Old 11th March 2019, 06:12 PM   #60
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Yes, there are beadings there.
But the question we are addressing here is not their existence ( this is beyond any argument), but their sacral meaning or absence thereof.
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