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Old 4th June 2018, 06:20 AM   #1
NavdeepBal
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Default Identification of mysterious Firangi/Saif Indian Sword

I acquired this sword about 2 or 3 years ago. When I bought the sword I was told it is a Saif. But the blade seems european so I believe it may be a Firangi. I was reading up on Firangis, and i read that the earlier Firangis were european blades mounted on tulwar hilts, and later on the basket hilt Firangis came. I would appreciate if someone could offer some info on this sword. Thanks!
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Old 7th June 2018, 11:03 AM   #2
ariel
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Saif is an Arabic word, meaning a generic sword. So, if the original owner was an Arab, that’s how he would call it.
Firangi is a word meaning “ foreigner, European” ( Franks). Originally it was used in South India, mainly for Portugese blades ( the first Europeans arriving in India and carrying their straight rapiers).
As it spread further, it entered Marathi and Mughal domains. For them, these long ( up to 4 feet) straight swords with local handles were a mark of authority. The blades ( imported or local) were mounted on local handles. Marathas called them Dhup, and Mughals Asa Shamshir ( asa in Arabic is staff).

So, depending on the locality, time of manufacture and the ethnicity of owner one can choose any name.

Of course, yours might have been remounted several times ( I suspect it is the case) and the blade might have been shortened and/or polished repeatedly up to the loss of any markings, so any or all of the above hints might have disappeared. Such is the nature of age and ageing....


Generically, it would be safe to call it Firangi to cover all bases.
Yes, I know, it is a name game, but names tell us a lot about history and are often useful.

Last edited by ariel : 7th June 2018 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 8th June 2018, 06:06 AM   #3
NavdeepBal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Saif is an Arabic word, meaning a generic sword. So, if the original owner was an Arab, that’s how he would call it.
Firangi is a word meaning “ foreigner, European” ( Franks). Originally it was used in South India, mainly for Portugese blades ( the first Europeans arriving in India and carrying their straight rapiers).
As it spread further, it entered Marathi and Mughal domains. For them, these long ( up to 4 feet) straight swords with local handles were a mark of authority. The blades ( imported or local) were mounted on local handles. Marathas called them Dhup, and Mughals Asa Shamshir ( asa in Arabic is staff).

So, depending on the locality, time of manufacture and the ethnicity of owner one can choose any name.

Of course, yours might have been remounted several times ( I suspect it is the case) and the blade might have been shortened and/or polished repeatedly up to the loss of any markings, so any or all of the above hints might have disappeared. Such is the nature of age and ageing....


Generically, it would be safe to call it Firangi to cover all bases.
Yes, I know, it is a name game, but names tell us a lot about history and are often useful.

Thank you. But the blade interests me too. It looks odd for the time period. It loks more lik a longsword blade than a typical european blade of the 18th century.
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Old 8th June 2018, 05:48 PM   #4
Norman McCormick
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Hi,
I have a sword which appears to be somewhat similar to yours and the blade is, as far as I can determine, locally made in India and not a repurposed European blade. Can you specify whether you have a backsword (sharp on one edge only) or a broadsword (sharp on both edges) blade on your sword and whether the blade has a good flex. You may have a sword which is described as a Sukhela although this terminology can be somewhat vague.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 8th June 2018, 09:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi,
I have a sword which appears to be somewhat similar to yours and the blade is, as far as I can determine, locally made in India and not a repurposed European blade. Can you specify whether you have a backsword (sharp on one edge only) or a broadsword (sharp on both edges) blade on your sword and whether the blade has a good flex. You may have a sword which is described as a Sukhela although this terminology can be somewhat vague.
Regards,
Norman.

The blade is sharp on only one edge and is Kamani not Skela. The blade is also more flexible than my most other indian swords.
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Old 11th June 2018, 12:57 PM   #6
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Default Kamani?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NavdeepBal
The blade is sharp on only one edge and is Kamani not Skela. The blade is also more flexible than my most other indian swords.


Apologies for the diversion but what is a Kamani?
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Old 11th June 2018, 02:19 PM   #7
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olikara, good question, as I dont know the answer either:-).


NavdeepBal, please tell us from where in India you come, as the names can differ quite a lot, depending on the different places.
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Old 12th June 2018, 04:39 AM   #8
NavdeepBal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
olikara, good question, as I dont know the answer either:-).


NavdeepBal, please tell us from where in India you come, as the names can differ quite a lot, depending on the different places.

Canadian born. But im Punjabi. In Punjab nowadays we call any type of spring steel used for tools or weapons kamani. But kaman means bow. From what i know the european steel which had a slightly high copper content then other indian made blades was called kamani. It has no patterns and is relatively “shinier” than other metals. It is heavier but more flexible, which is why it got the name kamani because it was lik the metal used for metal bows. But afterwards it became the name of any blade of european (and sometimes Indian) which lacked patterns and was flexible. Basically today kamani bladed tulwars are lik the cheapest tulwars you can find. Ive personally jus sold a beautiful light weight kamani tulwar for lik $180 cad. Some blades that are known as kamani are even pattern-welded flexible european blades, which are seen as “durable” and are highly sought after.
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