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Old 30th June 2015, 04:13 PM   #1
kronckew
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Default Southern India sword?

just got off the phone with one of my friends whom offered me this sword, he suspects it's 18c or earlier southern india. anyway, it's mine now & will be with me shortly.

does anyone have any suggestions as to what it really is, when where it might be from? thanks in advance for any info.

no details on length/weight etc. yet. grip scales are horn of some sort, look riveted on, small gap between the guard & scale i assume from shrinkage. not sure if the guard is polished or gold plated. probably the former. more info/better photos on arrival...
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Old 1st July 2015, 11:01 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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This is really a pretty intriguing sword, and at this point I am inclined to agree with the South India suggestion. I have not looked into any references yet but I think in "Hindu Arms & Ritual" there are examples of somewhat similar character. This seems a variant reflecting the often seen Ottoman influence which seems to have pervaded so many things culturally in Mughal courts.
As to the 18th century assessment, the blade seems to be of trade blade form of latter part 18th into 19th German forms. These kinds of blades can be seen even later according to Gilkerson ("Boarders Away") as 'cutlass' types.
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Old 4th July 2015, 03:55 PM   #3
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found this while googling indian short swords:

Quote:
Antique Arms, Armour & Militaria Sale
on Wednesday 30th June 2010

Lots: 91-120 of 472

AN UNUSUAL NORTH INDIAN SWORD, 19TH CENTURY
with polished steel straight single-edged blade, steel hilt extending over the forte with a pair of shaped panels, recurved knuckle-guard with bud-shaped finial, swelling steel grip engraved with a panel of foliage around the top and rising to a beaked pommel, and retaining traces of silver plating, in its fabric-covered wooden scabbard
71cm; 28in blade


mine seems to have an older trade blade tho.
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Old 4th July 2015, 04:31 PM   #4
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The triple fuller trade blades are well known from Solingen end of 18th c. and these were well known in India, especially in Deccani areas as these states often used German mercenary forces and arms. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were key examples, and the swords known as 'alemani').

The distinction between South and North India in classifying weapons is constantly compromised by the often vaguely applied use of the term Deccan. There are various perspectives on whether this is a geographic or cultural application, and there were profound connections between the Deccani regions considered Southern and those to the Northwest .
There lies part of the conundrum of regionally classifying Indian arms in so many instances.
The axiom I was once told, 'weapons have no geographic boundaries' always reminds me of this in all manner of ethnographic studies. The only real solution is often preponderance and or reliable provenance .
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Old 4th July 2015, 09:12 PM   #5
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another tidbit of info. the sword (mine) was found in france, which we tend to forget had 'posessions' in south east india and further influence in nearby areas for quite a while. could have been brought back by a frenchman in that era of the french east india co. - 18/19c.

or maybe a french collector like us acquired it from only god knows where.

i love a good mystery. especially if it has swords in it.
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Old 5th July 2015, 12:26 AM   #6
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Hard to tell from the pictures but it looks like the blade was mounted up with this guard when the blade was in its current condition. The rust/patina of the blade continues on undisturbed beneath the guard. If it had been there a long time you would have expected the patina to follow the outline of the guard and the holes and not be continuous from the exposed blade portion. Not to say the handle and blade haven't been together for awhile but the guard seems a much, much later addition. Still, an interesting piece that one wishes could speak to us.
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Old 5th July 2015, 08:20 AM   #7
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? - i would expect if anything, the patina and corrosion to be worse under the brass & roughly the same in the exposed holes, exposed to the same corrosive conditions. brass in contact with steel would set up a galvanic corrosion cell if not kept oiled. steel is higher in the galvanic series than brass and thus will corrode preferentially.

anyway, if trade blades were common at the end of the 18th c. it's possible an old patinated blade still in working condition may have been rehilted in the early 19th. as it appears to be shorter than the normal european blade, it may have broken off & the owner had it rehilted as a full exposed tang hanger/cutlass, thus the fullers extending under the filigreed brass. waste not want not

i suspect some bright spark thinking he'd increase the bling value has cleaned it & polished the brass recently. will know more when my supplier returns from france early this week 7 posts it to me so i can supply better photos.

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Old 16th July 2015, 08:13 AM   #8
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my supplier returned from france monday (strikes in france & illegals storming the tunnel & ferries have been a nightmare last week or so) & posted the item. finally arrived a few minutes ago today.

blade is 61 cm - 24 in.
LOA is 73 cm. - 29 in.
weight is 476 gm. - 1.05 lb.

the flexible blade is fairly thin, 5mm at the grip, distal tapered to the point. sharp false edge about 6 in. the brass filigreed part is integral to the rest of the guard and tight to the blade and down into the fullers, the corrosion appears to follow the outline of the brass but not under it.

it is a full exposed tang with brass grip liners, separate from the brass of the guard and horn grip slabs pinned to it via brass rivets. some of the brass is worn bright tho tarnished, some has a deep dark patina. inside the bow it is almost black, as are sections of the brass grip scale liners.

there is a small 1mm gap between the front of the scales & the guard that looks like a missing shim or spacer.

i suspect that this hanger was made from a much longer broken blade.

the shiney brass polished look i noted in the earlier photos must have been an artifact added by the suppliers phone camera logic.

will take a few pics for posting here later after i walk the dog and have my breakfast.

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Old 16th July 2015, 03:14 PM   #9
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today's photos - didn't turn out as well as i'd hoped. light wasn't right. bit overcast. may try again when we have a sunny day.
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Old 16th July 2015, 03:42 PM   #10
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mmmm I wouldn't rule out Afghanistan either... they used short swords, the guard could be right for that area as could the file work grip on the horn hilt...
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Old 20th July 2015, 08:42 PM   #11
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I go with Spiral.
As I too think it could be an Afghan sable.
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Old 20th July 2015, 09:00 PM   #12
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it does look like a variant on these afghan short swords i googled up a minute ago: no upper guard projection on mine tho, no sign there ever was one that broke off either. the end is also not touching or fastened toi the pommel like the afghan ones.
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Old 20th July 2015, 10:14 PM   #13
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Very astute observation Jens! It does seem possible that the Afghan connection might come in here. I think I learned a great deal when we talked on the Deccan, and the complex connections between those regions and Afghanistan. With that in mind, such diffusion of 'southern' style surely might extend into areas of the Northwest.

Kronckew, those curious military swords were what came to mind when I saw Afghanistan mentioned. These are actually a quite different 'breed' though, and last year Mahratt did a brilliant study on these. These are apparently a regulation type sword produced at the Machin Khana in Kabul, a British subsidized factory dealing primarily in firearms.

With Afghanistan in mind, I would point out that in the Northwest Frontier regions there were often examples of tulwar without the pommel disc (such examples can be seen in Tirri). While it is often presumed these 'open' hilt forms were altered by removal of the pommel disc, I have handled an example (provenance from Khyber regions in 1930s) in which it seems there never was a disc on the otherwise Indo-Persian style hilt.
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Old 20th July 2015, 11:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
I go with Spiral.
As I too think it could be an Afghan sable.
Jens



That's pleasing Jens, its always good when a more experienced fellow agrees with ones idle musings, based on my limited observations of pieces from this region...

Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
it does look like a variant on these afghan short swords i googled up a minute ago: no upper guard projection on mine tho, no sign there ever was one that broke off either. the end is also not touching or fastened toi the pommel like the afghan ones.


That's a particular genre you show Kronckew, but I think there many styles of blades & hilts in that region, many impromptu & individual but for me the gestalt of the piece is more NWT or Afghanistan . Others mileage may vary...

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Old 21st July 2015, 12:45 AM   #15
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There is an old thread on these swords here:

http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/001976.html

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Old 3rd August 2015, 07:19 AM   #16
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discussing hilt grip materials on another site, we got into stag, which reminded me of the attached (upper) short sword that i now compare to my new one. another trade blade? (posted here earlier in a discussion on scottish skians)
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