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Old 29th February 2024, 01:48 AM   #1
Sakalord364
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Default Certain “Indian” swords and their relation to the Afghan Shashkas

The swords below (with the Knucklebows) supposedly have a South Indian provenance, and it can be seen that their handles are very similar to the late 19th century Afghan military Shashkas. Now my question is did these supposedly Indian swords serve as the inspiration/prototype for the Afghan Shashkas, or was it the otherway around?

A part of this puzzle is the Khyber knife style metal bolster that is present on these swords. These type of bolsters are only found on weapons of Afghan origin (like Khybers and Afghan Shashkas). Was this metal bolster a component of Indian origin that traveled up to Afghanistan, or was it an Afghan component that traveled to India? (That is of course if these swords with the knucklebow are infact of Indian origin in the first place)
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Old 1st March 2024, 06:23 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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This is an interesting theory. Are you aware of the Pathan populations from the Punjab southward through Deccan into S,India? also the Durrani influences that moved southward from Afghan regions.

The so called Afghan 'shashka' in my thinking was more a result of Caucasian influences through Russian aspirations toward Afghanistan, with Great Britain's interest in Afghanistan as a buffer guarding its Indian domain. Read "The Great Game", Peter Hopkirk. The Caucusus had been overtaken by Russian incursion into the Caucusus during the Murid Wars of mid 19th c. where the influences of the Caucasian shashka became prevalent with Russian Cossacks and primary weapon for them. The evolution of the CAUCASIAN shashka is the key question here and that will take a more complex discussion.

Please note the North Indian turnback knucklebow neck (swans neck) which is characteristic of tulwar styles in the Northeast, Rajasthan, and by no means a typical southern element as far as I know. While certain Deccani influences are known to have moved northward, such as the flared quillon terminals on the sword termed Afghan 'paluoar' which is actually a tulwar of that form favored in Aghjan regions. As seen in Egerton (1885) these were grouped with tulwars.

The shashka was not a prevalent sword form in Afghanistan as much as were shamshirs, tulwars and 'paluoars' , just as these unusual knuckleguard sabers were not prevalent in S. India. certainly they are not indicative of any larger developmental trend.
Note on the swords you posted the tunkou, at the forte, notable Ottoman influence which was of course well present in certain degree in India.

My opinion is that these S.Indian saber anomalies with a bulbous hilt resembling shashkas are likely reflective of the Pathan influences from Afghan regions and populations to the north, and not of a developed form overall.
I wanted to at least open the discussion and look forward to opinions of others.

Thank you for posting these MOST interesting sabers.

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 1st March 2024 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 2nd March 2024, 12:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
This is an interesting theory. Are you aware of the Pathan populations from the Punjab southward through Deccan into S,India? also the Durrani influences that moved southward from Afghan regions.

The so called Afghan 'shashka' in my thinking was more a result of Caucasian influences through Russian aspirations toward Afghanistan, with Great Britain's interest in Afghanistan as a buffer guarding its Indian domain. Read "The Great Game", Peter Hopkirk. The Caucusus had been overtaken by Russian incursion into the Caucusus during the Murid Wars of mid 19th c. where the influences of the Caucasian shashka became prevalent with Russian Cossacks and primary weapon for them. The evolution of the CAUCASIAN shashka is the key question here and that will take a more complex discussion.

Please note the North Indian turnback knucklebow neck (swans neck) which is characteristic of tulwar styles in the Northeast, Rajasthan, and by no means a typical southern element as far as I know. While certain Deccani influences are known to have moved northward, such as the flared quillon terminals on the sword termed Afghan 'paluoar' which is actually a tulwar of that form favored in Aghjan regions. As seen in Egerton (1885) these were grouped with tulwars.

The shashka was not a prevalent sword form in Afghanistan as much as were shamshirs, tulwars and 'paluoars' , just as these unusual knuckleguard sabers were not prevalent in S. India. certainly they are not indicative of any larger developmental trend.
Note on the swords you posted the tunkou, at the forte, notable Ottoman influence which was of course well present in certain degree in India.

My opinion is that these S.Indian saber anomalies with a bulbous hilt resembling shashkas are likely reflective of the Pathan influences from Afghan regions and populations to the north, and not of a developed form overall.
I wanted to at least open the discussion and look forward to opinions of others.

Thank you for posting these MOST interesting sabers.

You raise another interesting point regarding the Paluoars, couldnÂ’t those downturned quillons actually be an Afghan influence on the Deccan? This type of hilt was extremely common in the Afghan regions yet quite rare in India
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Old 2nd March 2024, 03:30 AM   #4
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Not at all, the down turned quillons are basically from Qajar Persia, along with the stylized dragon/etc quillon terminals. Persia was a primary influence throughout Afghanistan, Northern India, Sind.

Which brings back these curious 'shashka type' sabers, which have nothing to do with S.India. What source has said these are of South Indian provenance?
As previously noted, the 'paluoar' is a form of tulwar characteristically associated with Afghanistan, which was essentially part of Northern India's 'Northwest Frontier' through the 19th c.

Keep in mind that Persia and the Ottomans had key influences on weapons of India, which as noted included Afghan areas. Afghan weaponry reflected those influences just as India, and was not an influence overall on Indian weapons . I would recommend "Hindu Arms and Ritual" , Robert Elgood for excellent coverage on these topics.
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Old 5th March 2024, 08:59 PM   #5
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Dear all,

Aside from kinda vague pommel similarities obviously based on ergonomics (and a ferrule/bolster style much more widespread including e.g. Indonesia), I fail to see any close relationship between these 2 groups of blades, I'm afraid. It isn't even established whether their suspected age range overlaps to any significant degree (and happens to be consistent with any suggested cultural connections).

There is quite a bit of variability among the southern Indian blades: Some more examples have been discussed here:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=991

Regards,
Kai
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