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Old 19th December 2007, 03:02 PM   #1
katana
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Thumbs up Interesting Tulwar with faint engraved design....Any Ideas ?

Would anyone have any ideas as to the origin of this Tulwar?

Heavily rusted, I have removed the 'live' rust' to discover a faint/ worn engraved design in the Choil area, difficult to see in the photos, so I have included a 'rough sketch' to show some of the detail. Look like sun symbols ?? The blade has deeply stamped 'cresents and round star like circles', which I have seen on some other Indian weapons (and African......and Afghani.... and ...)

Heavy blade, little distal taper and no false edge, a definate melee 'hacker' or possibly a Naval sword.

The hilt has 'scallop' detailing.

OAL 30.5" (approx 77 cms)
Blade 26" (66cms) following curve of blade, width at choil 40mm

All comments, suggestions etc gratefully received, thank you

Kind Regards David
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Old 19th December 2007, 06:37 PM   #2
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Very unusual quillons, too!
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Old 19th December 2007, 09:04 PM   #3
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Hi Ariel,
I haven't seen this type of quillion before, or this type of decoration to the blade (the faint engraving). But because of the 'scallop' looking quillion ends and the shortish blade, I wondered whether this could be some sort of 'Naval Issue'.

The patina of the blade suggests 18thC to early 19thC and seems well made, not certain (due to patination) but looks to have laminations.

Regards David
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Old 19th December 2007, 11:49 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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Hi David,
Most unusual! and as always you have great observations. The scalloped shell is something I cannot say I've seen, and though I dont know of specifically instituted navy in India that would have issued weapons as such, it surely seems plausible (maybe this should be on the pirate weapons thread
I agree with your thoughts on probable period though, it does seem late 18th c.
More research !!!
All the best,
Jim
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Old 20th December 2007, 12:25 AM   #5
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The eyelah mark looks very weak.The semicircles remind me of Thai Dhas.
Even the contour of the handle does not look Indian.
I have a strange feeling that it was not made in India. SE Asia?????
I know, I know, it DOES sound silly...
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Old 20th December 2007, 04:12 AM   #6
Jim McDougall
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Actually Ariel, your thoughts might not be so silly. There is something very unusual about this hilt, the quillons and langet notwithstanding. The hilt seems heavy and disproportionate, and those circles with small prongs around do seem like markings like this on Cham (I believe) dhas and weapons. the arrangement of opposed semicircles and strategically placed 'solar' symbols at either end recall the often seen 'sickle' marks.
While this weapon is of the period suggested and of tulwar form, it does seem atypical overall.
The shell motif David mentioned was indeed a good suggestion, but I am wondering if there might be some auspicious Buddhist symbolism here rather than maritime use? Would the scallop shell be symbolically significant much as the conch shell is as one of the auspicious symbols?

best regards,
Jim
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Old 20th December 2007, 04:05 PM   #7
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Searching on the internet I found these two images of the same sword....looks very similar to mine. Unfortunately there were no references or information about it. So ...at least there is more than one.

Below are two pictures from Artzi's site the first are markings on an Afghani Poulwar , the second (which has identical 'circle' markings as my own) is Indian and on the blade of a Tulwar.

As the Piso Podang has Indian influences I've been looking for a possible link with Tulwars and SEA......so far ...nothing


Regards David
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Old 21st December 2007, 12:26 AM   #8
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Excellent note on the piso podang David! That indeed is an example of the tulwar in SEA regions, but this one is so profoundly different. As always, it seems I have seen something like this before, and as you have shown there are obviously more of them.
The toothed circle markings in the other examples you posted seem to be grouped in arrangements approximating markings seen on many European blades.. the grid of these are like some seen on 'firangi' blades, the others seem to reflect again the key numeric three.

While this toothed circle does of course appear on dhas as I have noted, this by no means suggests the mark is exclusive there as we know simple geometric marks appear in many cultural spheres with different meanings.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 21st December 2007, 03:50 AM   #9
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I do not recall ever seeing a Tulwar with up-turned quillons
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Old 21st December 2007, 01:54 PM   #10
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It seems that India has a great Naval History, travelling to Africa, the Middle East,around the coastlines of the Indian Ocean (SEA) and there is evidence to suggest even Australia / NZ.

African slaves were taken to India.....


".....About the middle of the fifteenth century (1437), when the Bahamani dynasty became independent of Delhi and intercourse with "North India ceased, the fashion arose of bringing to Western India large numbers of Abyssinians and other East Africans. [The trade in slaves from the African coast to Egypt, Arabia and India had been going on from prehistoric times. During the time of the author of the Periplus (A.D. 70 and 80), Abyssinian slaves were exported from Opone from the Egyptian market where they were, in demand on account of their docility, courage and intelligence (Vincent's Commerce of the Ancients, II. 157). Under the Shilahara rulers of the Konkan (A.D. 810-1260), slaves are mentioned as sent from Sofala in Africa to the Thana ports [Ibn Aluradv (950) Reinaud's Abulfida, cccvii ]. Towards the end of the fifteenth centurv Abyssinian slaves were in high estimation in Turkey, Arabia and India. They were docile, tractable, intelligent and endowed with talents and courage which always raised them to favour and often to command. [Vincent's Commerce, II. 122 note 3, and Nikitin: (1470). India in Fifteenth Century 9, 10, 12 ]. In India these slaves were employed by Musalmans as soldiers' and sailors. In the beginning of the sixteenth century (1514) Barbosa notices the high value attached by Moors to Abyssinian slaves, who were Christians, taken, in war. These Christian slaves were sharp, well-built, and faithful, and when they became Musalmans they were better than the original Moors (Stanley, 18). During the period of Portuguese power in the Konkan (1530-1739) the import of African slaves into India continued brisk. Great numbers of house-slaves were brought by Portuguese ships from Africa and spread all over the Portuguese territories. The number of slaves varied from six to ten in a small establishment and from thirty to forty in a large establishment. Besides working as farm-servants they carried umbrellas and palanquins and did other menial work. They cost little to buy, and scarcely anything to keep, only a dish of rice once a day. Some of these blacks were sold in war, some by their parents, and others, in despair, barbarously sold themselves [Gemelli Careri in Churchill, IV. 203; Terrv (1618) in Kerr's Voyages. IX. 392; Badger's Varthema 114, 151: Nairne's Konkan. 50 ]|. Hamilton (1680-1720) notices that a good store of Mozambique negroes was brought to India. They were held in high esteem by the Indian Portuguese who made them Christians ......"

http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cach...lnk&cd=57&gl=uk

Perhaps, this explains why the 'toothed circle' and the cresent design is found in African, Indian and SEA weapons.(the 'concentric circle' is another 'motif' which is widespread in the same regions) The symbolism adopted? but from whom ?

AFAIK the connection between Africa and India is not widely known. One of India's great Sea Commanders was apparently either African or Afro Indian (sources vary) his name was Kanhoji Angre, who's Naval exploits had the British 'brand him' as a pirate. Whom was undefeated until his death in 1729.
The Indian ships were well constructed and a match for any navy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanhoji_Angre
http://www.desijournal.com/book.asp?articleid=48

I think that the case of Kanhoji Angre shows that there was some 'intergration' of African/indian, by trade, slavery and marriage. Cross cultural influences between Africa and India looks almost a certainty.

Perhaps this Tulwar was from the West coast of India, perhaps Naval.

The disc pommel displays the Ashoka's dharma chakra, with 24 spokes (after Ashoka, the Great). Each spoke depicts one hour of the day, portraying the prevalence of righteousness all the 24 hour of it. It is displayed in the Indian Flag. So at least, I think, this sword started life as a Hindu weapon.

Regards David

Heres an interesting fact...not related to the sword.....

"... "discovered" by the late Commander (special) G.E. Walker, who was the Judge Advocate General of the RIN immediately before Independence, is that the Jack flown by the Indian Marine in 1612 was the flag worn by ships on the American side during the War of Independence when they rejected the Union Jack. The Jack of the Indian Marine was thus the first flag of the U.S.A. which over the years developed into the stars and stripes. The Indian Marine Jack had seven red and six white stripes and in the position occupied by the stars today, was displayed the St. George's Cross. This flag forms a part of the insignia of the existing RIN Association in the U.K. ..."

Last edited by katana : 21st December 2007 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 21st December 2007, 05:39 PM   #11
Jim McDougall
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WOW! David, incredibly compelling and well researched material!
I can only say I am more than impressed with this information. I really like this kind of follow up in studying a weapon, and the way you make an observation or suggestion, then find and present your support.
As I have noted on the pirate weapons thread, there were indeed Indian vessels in trade as well as even pirate vessels, from India's west coast as you have mentioned.
It seems that some time ago in studying trade routes, I had come across information that suggested that there were certain taboos involved with the sea, and that many Indians basically avoided going to sea. I do know of course that with British presence in India from the opening of the 17th century, and certainly with the East India Co. and the Royal Navy that there was navy there but hadnt thought of a standing Indian navy. It seems that I had read some time ago that Indians often had reservations concerning going to sea, but I cannot recall the source presently. Obviously that cannot be true as further research Indian naval history, as you have shown, is extensive and quite ancient.

The notes you have placed on the widespread occurrence of certain symbols in SEA, Africa and India reveal many interesting possibilities in cultural diffusion, that again seem well supported by the information you have presented here. I have always considered the often subtle connections between Africa and India well established, the weapons of course our main consideration. One case in point is the Hadendoa dagger's hilt, which always make me think of the Indian chilanum and then there is the madu, associated with the haladie, which is established in Sudanese weaponry.

In looking further at this weapon, it seems more of an interpretation of a tulwar, especially the hilt which is heavy and 'thick' in appearance. the vestigial quillons are most interesting, again, particularly with the scallop shell.This motif was well known in Spanish material culture, and of course was seen on various shellguard maritime weapons as well. There seem to be many considerations in place here, as the chakra symbolism you have noted is well placed and as you note, Hindu, and would be most interesting coupled with such European symbolism.

Thank you so much David for this beautifully presented and well supported material. Lets continue!!!

All the best,
Jim

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Old 21st December 2007, 09:36 PM   #12
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Hi Jim,
here is some more info on Indian seafaring. Quotes from a PDF (address below, page 16 to 44)


".......India's maritime history can be broadly divided into five distinct periods— the Hindu period extending from the hoary past to the middle of the 15th century A.D., the Portuguese period from the closing years of the 15th century to the end of the 16th century; two British periods—from 1612 to 1830 and from 1830 to 1947; and the Indian period which commenced on August 15, 1947. The British period is divided into two parts because in 1830, the East India Company's Navy in India underwent two major changes; it was constituted as a combatant service and given the name Indian Navy...

.... Late Professor Buhler,the well-known German orientalist, expressed the view that "there are passages in ancient Indian works which prove the early existence of navigation of the Indian Ocean and the somewhat later occur rences of trading voyages undertaken by Hindu merchants to the shores of the Persian Gulf and its rivers."......

This fact is further borne out by available works in the languages of the littoral states of the region; such as Sindhi, Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya and Bengali; the writings of foreign travellers and historians—Chinese, Arabic and Persian—which contain observations on Indian subjects; the evidence available from archaeology—epigraphic, monumental and numismatic; and Indian and foreign art and foreign literature—English, Greek, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic,Malay, Thai, Burmese and Sinhalese.

Some of the little-known facts about the extent of commercial and cultural influence of India and sea-borne trade using ships built in India during the Hindu period (pre-Christian era to the middle of the 15th Century A.D.) are: :¦ —The Matsya Yantra5 (the fish machine), an iron fish floating on oil Q i t i g to the north serving as a primitive compass used by Indian sea- farers for several millennia (as per Hindu mythology, Matsya was the first incarnation of LordVishnu).


During the Hindu period, considerable maritime activity took place in the waters around India. As described by Megasthenes, the royal shipyards of the Mauryas built seagoing ships of various classes.

……..on September 5, 1612. This date is regarded by the British as the foundation day of the Royal Indian Navy, as the first arrival of their warships in India and the formation of the Indian Marine took place on this day.
The nucleus of the Indian Marine consisted at that time mainly of some warships built in
England and a larger number of vessels built in India. The Ghurabs were heavy beamy vessels
(about 300 tons) of shallow draft and were armed with six 9 to 12-pouiider guns while the
Galivats were smaller craft (about 70 tons) mounting half-a-dozen 2 to 4-pounders. The crews of these craft consisted mainly of Hindu fishermen from the Konkan Coast.



http://indiannavy.nic.in/under2ensigns.pdf


It seems that naval activity, warfare and trade has been rife in the Indian Ocean for hundreds of years ....way back to 200BC and beyond.
The Maratha Fleet (Hindu state) commanded by Kanhoji Angre had great sucess in battle. Other fleets were employed by the Moghuls and other Indian states.


David

This was another interesting thought....not relating to the sword though..


Portuguese supremacy over the waters around India was thus established
and reached its zenith during the days of Albuquerque.
But in 1580, when Portugal joined hands with Spain and the Spanish Armada suffered a crushing defeat, it changed the course of events around the globe, one of its off shoots being the decline of Portuguese supremacy in the Indian region. It is a moot point that if the Spanish Armada had triumphed, the United States could in all probability have become a Latin American country and India a Portuguese dominion! '
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Old 22nd December 2007, 12:07 AM   #13
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Interesting piece, The faint zig zag etc markings were identical on the ricasso of this peace I had at one time. It is now in an established private Sikh collection.

I presumed it was Sikh or Afghani from either, Punjab or NWF Border area or maybe even into Khyber or some such perhaps?

it was about 22 inches long , all wootz crystaline steel. Strangly found bricked up in an old English famhouse wall during re building. Bit of wicca/earth magic I suppose.

I thought it seemed a very old piece.

Spiral

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Old 22nd December 2007, 11:35 AM   #14
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Thanks Spiral,
nice functional piece, unusual to have such a quality blade with a plain-ish hilt, 'bricked up in an old farm house' ..... strange but

I fairly certain that this Tulwar is Indian, the blade is fixed in the traditional
way (resin) and the hilt, although slightly unusual, is 'within' the range of normal size. When viewed from the top the 'width' widens as it reaches the langets, a feature I have not seen before.
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Old 26th December 2007, 03:41 PM   #15
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A gentle cleaning of the hilt ...to further remove some active (red) rust has revealed ...what appears to be silver plating.... approx. 60 % remains but is lightly pitted, there is evidence of some dark patterning on some of the remaining silver but is very faint / worn. I'll try and add pictures later.

Would the plating help ID the Region of India that this Tulwar may have originated ?

David
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Old 28th December 2007, 07:33 PM   #16
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Hi David

Quote:
Originally Posted by katana
... Portuguese supremacy over the waters around India was thus established
and reached its zenith during the days of Albuquerque.
But in 1580, when Portugal joined hands with Spain and the Spanish Armada suffered a crushing defeat, it changed the course of events around the globe, one of its off shoots being the decline of Portuguese supremacy in the Indian region. It is a moot point that if the Spanish Armada had triumphed, the United States could in all probability have become a Latin American country and India a Portuguese dominion! '


I am deeply impressed with such flow of information ... honestly. Thanks for sharing it.

Allow me just a little touch up in some paragraphs, for reasons connected with context.
As a matter of fact, Portugal didn't properly "join hands" with Spain to form the Armada. At the time Portugal's hands were tied by Spanish Philipine dominium, and the ships plus countless means of artillery were sort of "requisitioned" by the Spaniards for the battle.
I don't know that, if Spain had triumphed ( and it only didn't apparently due to weather conditions ), Portugal would widen its dominium in India, but on the contrary, due to Spanish diversion of tastes, Portugal existing supremacy in the Orient has drasticaly reduced during Spain domination.

Obviously my ( hipotheticaly right ) coments only seek historical objectives.

All the best
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Old 28th December 2007, 08:08 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi David



I am deeply impressed with such flow of information ... honestly. Thanks for sharing it.

Allow me just a little touch up in some paragraphs, for reasons connected with context.
As a matter of fact, Portugal didn't properly "join hands" with Spain to form the Armada. At the time Portugal's hands were tied by Spanish Philipine dominium, and the ships plus countless means of artillery were sort of "requisitioned" by the Spaniards for the battle.
I don't know that, if Spain had triumphed ( and it only didn't apparently due to weather conditions ), Portugal would widen its dominium in India, but on the contrary, due to Spanish diversion of tastes, Portugal existing supremacy in the Orient has drasticaly reduced during Spain domination.

Obviously my ( hipotheticaly right ) coments only seek historical objectives.

All the best



Hi Fernando,
my friend, these were not my own deductions, but a quote from the same reference as the previous material. As such it was probably taken 'out of context' and was just a 'simple' view point. I didn't check the references.
As to the Armada, you are indeed correct ...the weather conditions greatly helped its demise.
I thought it interesting how history could have been so dramatically changed by the outcome of a single battle/ historical incident ....for instance if Napoleon had taken Russia or if we (British/Allies) lost the 'battle of Britain.

Happy New Year

Regards David
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Old 30th December 2007, 05:07 PM   #18
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Some pics of the nearly cleaned hilt, certainly seems to be silver with faint remains of a 'fish scale' pattern (snake ? Naga ?) which does not show up clearly. I have found a picture of a similarly decorated hilt but mine is more 'scale-like'.

Seems that another decorative feature of the hilt ie the scales, could indicate associations with the sea

Please, has anyone any ideas as to origin ?


Kind Regards David
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