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Old 28th September 2008, 03:35 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default The chhatri or umbrella

In Jewellery Studies, vol. 10, 2004, Robert Elgood has an interesting article. On page 82 he writes, “The Nujum al-Ulum shows forms of weapons usually given a much later Mughal origin. The manuscript states that certain signs read on a blade in its imperfections or its watered patterns are auspicious or inauspicious and determine the owner’s future. Of particular interest is the comment that the umbrella mark is extremely auspicious. The chhatri or umbrella is one of the auspicious symbols of Hindu rulers and of early Buddhism. It was believed that troubles to the cosmic order would ensue if the King/God and the Sun/God were to look upon one another and so the umbrella was transposed, just as it was considered dangerous for the King to see his own reflection in a bright sword blade. The Hindu rulers chhatri was a vital symbol of his right to rule, and the mark was inlaid on royal Mughal sword and dagger blades. There is no pre-Mughal evidence to show that Hindu rulers inlaid the umbrella symbol on their swords though it is clear that the symbol was looked for in the patterns on the blade as an auspicious mark…..”

The text above gives the impression, that ‘unofficial’ use of the umbrella must have been an offence, and offences, at that time, were severely dealt with. Long ago I read, that a general, maybe a prince, who had distinguished himself in battle was given drums, but I don’t remember to have read, that an umbrella was given to anyone. I have however, seen a blade, on which was an umbrella with three flags on top, not nicely inlaid, but fairly crudely chiselled into the blade. Could the Mughal ruler’s personal guard have the umbrella chiselled into their blades, to show that they were of some importance, and were royal guards?
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Old 28th September 2008, 08:15 PM   #2
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Hi Jens,
A most fascinating topic, that of markings on Indian blades, and this one is most important. It does seem plausible that weapons assigned to the royal bodyguards would carry that symbol as a royal insignia. I wonder since the umbrella was a widely recognized symbol of royalty and auspicious dogma, if various individuals applied different impressions of them. I have seen the ones shown in Figiel, but are there other examples with different attribution?

What might be the earliest known examples on weapons?

All the best,
Jim
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Old 28th September 2008, 08:32 PM   #3
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Yes Jim, I thought it might interest you. Elgood does not comment directly on these markings on weapons, but he does write, “The earliest umbrella mark from Jahangir’s reign (1605-1628) that has come to my notice is on a sword inscribed ‘Shah Jahangir Padshah Gazi’, dated 1027 AH/1608 AD and in addition bears the markers name ‘Abdul Rahim Mushabadi’.”

Maybe the Hindus did not use it on weapons at all – at least in the early times.
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Old 29th September 2008, 04:41 AM   #4
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Hi all,

Quite an interesting topic.

The Hindus have been using the umbrella as a royal symbol and it is also associated with religious customs since time immemorial.

However little or no account exists as to whether it was also used as an auspicious symbol on weapons belonging to Hindus.

I do no believe that it was unauspicous for kings to see their reflection in a bright sword blade; I'm open to change my opinion though because of the following known piece of history.

Shah Jahan had a noble man called Udaram Deshmukh who was known for two things:
1. His fierce valor and gallantry
2. He was very ugly.

Once Shah Jahan wanted to tease him in his court and ordered for a hand held mirror. Saw his reflection in the mirror and passed it on to his courtiers to do the same.
The mirror was passed in the ranks of the courtiers and soon everyone reliazed the emperor's plans of mocking at Udaram.
Everyones interest had peaked as to how Udaram escapes mockery or is at the receiving end of the emperor's trick.
The moment the mirror was presented in front of Udaram, he, without looking at it put the mirror upside down and unsheathed his sword, saw his face and passed the mirror on.
Everyone was dumbstuck as this was a great insult to the emperor. However before anyone could react Udaram uttered "Mirrors are for ladies to see their refelection, for men should see it in their dazzling sword blades"
The emperor was greatly pleased by the brilliant and intelligent gesture of Udaram and gifted him his personal bejewelled Katar (punch Dagger) Which till date can be seen in the personal collection of the descendants of Udaram Deshmukh.

As far as the umberella is concerned we need to dig in deeper details and research before concluding anything.

Regards,
Bhushan
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Old 29th September 2008, 12:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhushan_lawate
Hi all,

As far as the umberella is concerned we need to dig in deeper details and research before concluding anything.

Regards,
Bhushan
Hi Bhushan,

You are quite right, that a deeper research about the meaning of the umbrella has to be made. Unfortunately a big part of the knowledge is likely to be hidden in some palm leaf books, not yet translated – or do you, or someone else, have more information’s?

Interesting history about Udaram, but I doubt that anyone would have be allowed to draw his sword in the present of Shah Jahan.
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Old 1st October 2008, 12:30 AM   #6
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Probably not of much significance, but came across a reference on some ancient coins from Israel. These are bronze 'prutah' minted during the reign of Agrippa I (37-44AD), and carried the umbrella (more of a 'canopy' or parasol) on one side, and it is noted 'symbol of royalty'...the other side three ears of barley. Just thought the royal symbolism interesting, as well as the not often thought of contact in these early times between Israel and India.
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Old 6th October 2008, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Hi Bhushan,

You are quite right, that a deeper research about the meaning of the umbrella has to be made. Unfortunately a big part of the knowledge is likely to be hidden in some palm leaf books, not yet translated – or do you, or someone else, have more information’s?

Interesting history about Udaram, but I doubt that anyone would have be allowed to draw his sword in the present of Shah Jahan.


Hi Jens,

The Ngadju dayak culture in south Borneo got also influence from the Hindus.
The umbrella (payong) plays an important role in all rituall there
The umbrella is indentical with the tree of life.
Maybe because of his protectional task ( I don't know for sure why)
But the tree of life is also often presented as a spear.
If we seen that in one line it looks like there's a connection between the umbrella-tree of life-weaponery.

Maybe because the weapons brings death while the tree of life is the source of new life ? ( in a headhunting culture the death is the start of a new life)

I realize that these cultures are far away from eachother but maybe it helps to find answers about the use of the umbrella on swordblades.


I'm interested about the use of the "eye motif" on swords from India.
Is this because of the " evel eye believe?"



friendly regards,

Arjan.
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