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Old 20th September 2018, 06:23 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default How many researchers are there on the forum when it comes to Indian wapons

I would be interested in knowing how many researchers the are on this forum, researching Indian weapons.
It is easy to ask questions, but the questions to be answered comes from research.
Why dont new researchers ask how to do it, so that older reseaecher can help them - rather to ask questions???
Jens
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Old 20th September 2018, 10:17 PM   #2
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Jens:

Thank you for raising an important question. I think there is a dearth of younger researchers in just about every area of ethnographic arms collecting. Encouraging young people to engage in our fields of interest is an ongoing challenge. Time and money seem to be the big barriers to engaging in ethnographic collecting and research, although the internet has certainly enabled us to access images of many more items than previously. Most people I know who are interested in ethnographic arms research came to it through their collecting (hence the cost of getting interested). My job, which involved travel internationally, greatly helped my research interests and provided me time to do that research. Not everyone has that good fortune, especially at a young age.

Jens, there are several contributors to this forum who are considerably younger than we are, and may one day develop the research skills that you have. I know a couple of guys who lived near me in Minneapolis, and linking up in person is so much better for communication than simply chatting online. Chatting online, however, is infinitely better than never meeting at all.

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Old 21st September 2018, 02:48 PM   #3
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Jens,

I agree with Ian, but in addition to time and desire, one needs to know HOW to research. Major slick paged and photo rich A&A books are well known but often superficial in content. Usually a key to learning more is to access these author's references and footnotes, and then the references of these references. For example, my prime interest is Sudan's kaskara. I knew that Sudan Notes and Records was a colonial journal from 1918 to 1974 with lots of anthropological materials on the various ethnic groups inhabit this vast area. I developed access to all articles SNR had produced and began to graze through then. By chance I found in an article on customs of the Northern Bega a one page description of sword type names linked to their fuller construction. That became the basis to my Fuller essay on this forum.

In addition to swords I found out about who could forge iron, other weapons like long and short spears, throwing knives and sticks, and the use of poison arrows.

One way to get immersed in the subject is to Google on Indian Colonial Journals. This came up at random.
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs...rnalCode=fich20

Search on Libgen to see if journals have been archived. Google Books and Project Gutenberg are great resources for old travel narratives.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_Genesis

How to access Libgen:
http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/?p=7172

As in Internet Archive:
https://archive.org/

For example while its more oriented to European arms, here is a link to Gladius journal
http://gladius.revistas.csic.es/ind...s/issue/archive

A most of this digging is low yield, but it builds and in total you find quality information not obviously available. Think of it as detective work or being an intelligence analyst. Solve the mystery. I think internet research is more entertaining than watching current evening TV.

Happy hunting,
Ed

Last edited by Edster : 22nd September 2018 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 21st September 2018, 03:55 PM   #4
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Ian and Ed,


What you write is true, as it does take a lot of time, and a lot of stones to turn.


Ian has been lucky to have a work which made him research at the same time - on the spot so to say. Unfortunately I did not have this option, so I had to do my studies from books. This is all right, but you need to have a lot of books, and not all authors write the same about the same episode, so you have to check it once more, to find the description which you believe most in.
Like in my article Saadat Khan Bahadur the First Nawab of Oudh. In one book it says that he took poison, by in another book, written by someone who knew him, it says that he had cancer, and from that he died.


Ed, you hit the nail right on the head. HOW do you start? Reference books and notes in books and articles are very good starters. Time to wait for an opening - which can take a very long time, if you are not lucky.
The first tulwar I bought in 1967, and only recently I saw a picture of a hilt which must have been made at the same place, maybe of the same man who made my hilt. Ok it does not have to take such a long time. A Pesh Kabz I have with a very special decoration, recently I saw a picture of a sword hilt with the same decoration. only a picture without any comments. The Pesh Kabz I bought is 1973.
This may sound frightening, but it is really not, as research can be done in many ways, depending on how deep you want to dig.


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Old 22nd September 2018, 01:44 AM   #5
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Thank you for issuing a bit of a challenge for folks to hone their skills as researchers. While I am certain this community fully values the expertise on display here, I'm not so sure everyone fully appreciates the labor expended to gain this knowledge.

I know, personally, the demands of career and family make both my time and finances short of fully indulging my interests. That said, I endeavor to build my knowledge through steady efforts, and appreciate being pointed in the right direction to access information.

Thanks again!
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Old 22nd September 2018, 04:56 PM   #6
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Shayde78,
Thank you for your post.
Depending on where you live, libraries and museums can often be of a big help, but you can also ask here on the forum, which books to buy or lend. Many of the books have been reprinted, so the price is low.
If you want to research, you must be aware of, that books are books, and the written word is the written word - but not always as sharp as a sword:-). So you should compare texts about the same subject to make sure you get the correct version.
Jens
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Old 22nd September 2018, 05:35 PM   #7
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I realize there is some slight overlap here with what others have said, but, nonetheless, here's my take on the subject:

I think it is fair to say there has never been an easier time to research Indian weapons...outside of their original time and place...than now.

Many 19th and 20th-century reference works(books and articles) were dedicated primarily to cataloging examples or pictures and photographs often of only the most ornate pieces. Now there are quite a number of volumes dedicated to the subject in a variety of different forms from pictorial only and 'lighter' formats to very detailed, cultural, historical, ethnicity(N. Indian and S. Indian, etc.) and even religiously based(Muslim, Hindu, etc.) formats. Now you could practically make a study of blade types and structures alone, or even a study of Indian style hilts alone. As a matter of fact, you could even argue that the amount of material is overwhelming. That is something that certainly could not be said 50 years ago, most especially about the depth of what was found then versus now.

There remains one dilemma, especially for exciting the interest of younger, or beginner collectors, and that is the COST of the volumes available. There is little that can be done about that issue as most of the volumes are publications of the highest caliber. I can only suggest that one do what I did when I started this adventure over 20 years ago...start simple and work your way up through more scholarly oriented volumes.

Countless photos really do "speak a 1000 words" when it comes to this sort of research, and backed up by sound study and experience just adds "gravy" to the research.

Last edited by CharlesS : 22nd September 2018 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 23rd September 2018, 11:24 PM   #8
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Hi all!

I actually would consider myself somewhat of an Indian weapons researcher. Though I'm relatively new to it, and as a result spend most of my time reading/learning what I can that's out there right now, one day I'd love to be able to conduct my own research. Currently the closest thing to research that I do is simply looking into how the names for different weapons have changed over time, and how the definitions of the names seem to shift over time. Kinda like how "pata" (patta, puttah, etc.) apparently used to refer to a long blade of grass, like the long blade of a pata, but nowadays many Indian martial arts practitioners see the proper name as "dandpatta", with some part of the word meaning belt, in reference to how flexible modern pata blades are when made for modern Indian martial arts (so flexible they could be worn as belts). I'm sure this isn't new to any of you, but it's still just an example of what I mean.

@Ian, I'm actually a "young person" that lives in Minneapolis (assuming you mean Minneapolis, Minnesota)! I'd love to talk in person with people that share my interests! If they still live Minneapolis, please, let me know how I could get in touch with them!

For everyone else, honestly, just throw stuff at me! Links, books, whatever, I'll do my best to find and acquire it. Money and traveling is a problem, sure, but I'm continuously surprised by how many different facets this hobby leads into and I love it!
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Old 25th September 2018, 07:24 AM   #9
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Hi Nihl,

Welcome to the forum. You have a PM.

Ian.
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Old 25th September 2018, 01:01 PM   #10
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Nihil,
I tried to PM you from the forum memberlist, but was blocked for some reason or other.

Please PM me from the same list with your mail address, and I will send you a book list.
Jens
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Old 25th September 2018, 05:37 PM   #11
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Hello Jens!
You say "researchers"?!
What are researchers?
Is a collector who reads a few books and had a look at a few examples a "researcher"?
I think not.
I think a researcher is one who spends some time in India, visiting museums and talking to curators and historians. Asking them questions about specific traits, for specific weapons, for specific geographic regions, for specific time periods, for specific religions (Islam/Hindu/Christian).
Visiting private collections and talking to the collectors. Asking them the same specific questions.
Then, after accumulating sufficient experience, formulate some hypothesis and proceed to verify them... in the field, again talking to museum curators, historians and collectors.
Then, draw the conclusions and put them in a thesis, or book... to be published and face the scrutiny of other researchers, museum curators and collectors.
But this would span over several years and would require a lot of money... as travelling never comes cheap.
So I think there are very few genuine researchers.
Elgood may be one of them. However, reading his books I sometimes find them sometimes very anecdotical. For example in his "Arms of Greece and Her Balkan Neighbours..." he consistently fails to provide arguments as to why a certain Yathagan is considerd to be from Bosnia and not from Turkey, Greece or else. Based on what characteristics (materials used, shape of the hilt, shape of blade, decorations, written text, etc.) does he make his assertions. Is it based on a rigurous analysis of the characteristics, or is it based on the information he got from the owner?! Then what if he is wrong? How can I, a novice collector, verify his asertions or use his book to identify and correctly locate a blade in space and time.
Dubito, ergo cogito!
My two cents...
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Old 25th September 2018, 10:01 PM   #12
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Hi marius,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this fascinating topic. What you describe is typical of ethnographic research--boots on the ground, filling copious notebooks with data, immersed in the culture, etc ... However, there are other legitimate research efforts that are less demanding on time and resources.

For example, reading scholarly works and historical accounts adds to our understanding of what others have seen and may be the only practical way of assessing changes over time. Current local informants are not always the most accurate source of information, and historical trends and records are not always preserved accurately within their original cultures. The internet has certainly expanded our access to knowledge such that some research can be done from the comfort of our homes. While much of this research is of the "hypothesis generating" type, it is still useful and stimulates discussion.

There are very, very few Robert Elgoods in this world who can devote a substantial portion of their professional careers to Indian Arms and Armor.

Ian.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:37 PM   #13
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Marius,
When I started the thread I thought someone would ask the question you asked, and I wondered how long time it would take before the question surfaced:-).
Depending which meaning you give the word 'research'. Someone may say he has researches a tulwar, and found out it is from Rajasthan 18th century, while another one might want to find out from which state in Rajasthan, and yet another one would like to know if he can relate it to a person in a specific state in Rajasthan.
The time used in these three cases will, of course, be very different, but in a way all three are research - on a very different level.
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Old 26th September 2018, 02:02 PM   #14
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Both of you (Jens & Ian) are right... but so am I.

In the end all depends on what depth we allocate to the term "research".
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Old 26th September 2018, 03:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Marius,
Someone may say he has researches a tulwar, and found out it is from Rajasthan 18th century...

Another one may say that it is Mughal 19th...
Third one - that it is from Deccan 18th...
But in fact it is the tourist item of the late 19th.
This is not research but of varying degrees of speculation. There is no science in it at all.
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Old 26th September 2018, 04:34 PM   #16
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Mercenary,
If I understand you correctly, what you are saying is, that you have to be a scientist to do a research. I think you must be an academic to say something like that.
As far as I know everyone can make a research.

So I dont agree with you, as someone who has gotten his first sword, and used ten maybe twenty hours to find out what it is (due to lack of books), will likely call it a research. When he has added to his collection he may find out that research is something else -far more reading and far more time consuming.
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Old 26th September 2018, 05:01 PM   #17
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When we are talking about real research, we are talking about patterns and trends. Figuring out that a particular sword is from, say, Kutch and belonged to such-and-such is like putting a small simple tile on an empty board of 10,000 piece puzzle. Research is about unearthing governing principles.

Unfortunately, very few people are dealing with it. Perhaps, a book by Rivkin and Isaaks about history of Eastern sword comes closest to it.

Also, we lack the most powerful research tool: experimental verification. We cannot change anything in our database, we just observe individual examples and try to tie them into some more or less coherent story. But our databases are contaminated by outliers, composite examples ( true, not faked by sellers), throwbacks, accidental examples of items wandering into foreign territories, late imitations etc.
We have to rely on the opinions of our predecessors, and we all know how far-fetched some of them could have been.

In short, research of arms and armour can never be as academic and conclusive as, say, physics or molecular biology ( and those have their problems, too). We are dealing with the past, with history, and I do not have to remind anyone that we still are not sure about demise of Roman Empire or the meaning of French Revolution.

This is not to say that we should abandon all hope; just that we have to know out limitations.
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Old 26th September 2018, 05:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Mercenary,
So I dont agree with you, as someone who has gotten his first sword, and used ten maybe twenty hours to find out what it is (due to lack of books), will likely call it a research

I agree. It is very good if someone want to know something more. It is a real research. Private research for myself.
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Old 26th September 2018, 05:30 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
This is not to say that we should abandon all hope; just that we have to know out limitations.

Absolutely agree too
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Old 26th September 2018, 05:35 PM   #20
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Absent the availability of living links to former cultures and artifacts, there is little on which to base a conclusion.

Some research of this nature has been conducted by perusal of old images; photographs, paintings, statuary and so forth. Those who experienced it are silent, leaving only artifacts from which to extrapolate.

The notion of a vast, empty puzzle table is exact. Collectors, accumulators and scholars all work to populate the table, and all contribute what they can. What is written is sometimes correct, often not. Traders in antique cultural artifacts have long influenced the language - and therefore the conceptualisation - of this research. We've seen this here. Even museum curators have not infrequently gotten it wrong.

We live in fortunate times for research, as a planet-wide information system is being implemented. Availability of information (and disinformation, alas) has never been greater. Communications between isolated individuals with common interests has laid the groundwork for a far more extensive study of obscure areas of interest and endeavor.

The effort now seems to consist in populating the puzzle table with pieces, and establishing frameworks within which the pieces can be organised. In time, it is to be hoped that documentation from the source cultures can be found, processed and translated to aid in the creation of filters through which artifacts may be viewed, and perhaps understood, in a fashion that approximates their long-lost original reality.

So far we have the beginning of he creation of tools for the study; expanding and refining the available information continues. The more varied viewpoints that can be brought to bear on the topics of interest, the better. Sorting through the resulting glut of information and misinformation will continue to be the ongoing challenge.
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Old 26th September 2018, 06:24 PM   #21
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Bob,
Thank you very much for commenting - and for claryfiyng that the key words are - information and disinformation.
Jens
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Old 26th September 2018, 08:26 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Bob,
Thank you very much for commenting - and for claryfiyng that the key words are - information and disinformation.
Jens


Jens, you're welcome.

Certainly disinformation is rife on the internet, but misinformation is also prevalent, and bears a more innocent connotation. All three apply, as I understand the situation.
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Old 26th September 2018, 09:24 PM   #23
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Bob,
You brought it up, disinformation and misinformation.

I did not want to start with it, as it would have been too negative. But since you started it, and thank you for it, I will say that the net gives you a lot of informations, but far from all of them are correct, and to this comes that the written word (sharper than a sword) is not always correct either.
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