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Old 9th October 2015, 03:14 PM   #1
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Default On the Use of Indian Terms for Identification of Weapon Types

I put here some theses from the article:

"Weapons sold in the 19-20th centuries at the Indian markets were certainly typologically similar to real weapons, although manufactured as souvenirs and handicrafts. Therefore the quality of information the customer learnt about the name, features, and origin of a weapon type depended on the seller`s knowledge of the weapon. The provided information must have been variable depending on the place of purchase and language spoken by the seller."

"From two independent sources the descriptions of traditional martial practices in Muslim Lucknow, which ceased to exist by the late 19th century, are known... A knife fight called "bank" is described. This fighting art had been practiced by both Indians and Muslims since long ago, but the weapon types used were different. The Indian dagger was straight and double-edged, whereas the "Arab one" was recurved and single-edged..."

"...Generally speaking, the word "katar" was a collective term for daggers and derived from the stem "kat" meaning "cut" or "wound". Some authors describe straight "stiletto-like" weapons or objects resembling the dirk (Scotch dagger) by this word (fig. 3). It is of interest to note regarding this object that Lord Egerton indicated Nepal as the place of origin of this weapon type. Indeed, there is an inexplicably great number of old Indian katars originating from Nepal. Probably, it could be explained the following way. On the morrow of the rebellion of ascetics (fakirs and sannyasis) in Bihar and Bengal, their detachments fled to Nepal, which had been used by the ascetics as a rear base during the revolt and where they had taken shelter from persecutions and replenished their forces. The rebellion managed to be eventually suppressed only when the British administration agreed with the rulers of Nepal (and Butan) to ban the armed monks from being present on their territory . As a result. the monks settled on the territory of Nepal and with the time sannyasis even started to be regarded as a separate caste. Nepal has long been a strong point of ascetics and they have been actively taking part in its military and political life."

"...The etymology of the dagger`s name "bichwa" is usually traced down to the comparison of its shape to the scorpion`s sting, suggesting that this type of weapon originates from daggers made of one-piece horn, in which a through-hole for the hand was cut. Doubts in such a treatment are possible taking into account how relatively a horn looks like a scorpion`s sting, as well as the differences in pronunciation and spelling of the word "bichwa" when defining a scorpion and a dagger type. It should rather be noted that both these words derive from one and the same term meaning "damage" or "cut" . It should be assumed that "bichwa" is the regional name of a dagger with a guard bow. It is notable that Lord Egerton uses this term to describe a common double curved Indian dagger with a side guard, in other cases calling it "khanjar" or "chilanum" , which was considered an error before."

"...The word “pata” denoting a weapon also appears in Tarikh-i-Husain Shahi (Durrani-namah), the history of the Durrani dynasty, which was worked on by Imam ud-din Husaini Chishti for several years and finished in 1798. He mentions that the Marathas had a detachment of several thousand “pathabaz” in the battle of Panipat in 1761, and this word in the Deccani language meant exactly warriors armed with swords, or “skilled” warriors..."

"...As to the sword`s name khanda the leading scholars also provide a consonant word meaning "shoulders" , which in the old Hindi language was strangely enough used as part of the phrases meaning "to injure a body" or "cut through a body". Probably it is related to damaging the upper part of the body, beheading (only leaving shoulders), or "striking from the shoulder". This kind of phrase was often used by the Indian poet Chand Bardai, who lived in the 12th century..."
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Old 10th October 2015, 02:28 PM   #2
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I'm starting to think that "phul-katara" from Jahangir-namah it is simply means carved or with koftgary blade. So phrases "a jeweled khapwa with a phul-katara" means just a dagger with jeweled hilt and carved blade...
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Old 10th October 2015, 04:24 PM   #3
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It is an interesting subject you have started, but a somewhat complicated one at the same time.
Under 'Pata'. The Tarikh-i-Husain Shahi was written about 1580, and about this time several of the states started to chang/or had already changed the language from Persian or Turkish to devangiri/tulu or other languages.
We must expect that Imam ud-din Husaini Chishti, about two centuries later, must have been aware of this, as the same word can mean different things in different languages.
Another thing is, that we dont know when those word started to be used for a weapon, or if it before that had another meaning.

To give you an idea of what I mean. I have a hunting sword, centuries later than the time discussed now. There is an inscription in Arabic letters, where the word 'Bahar' can be seen. In Farsi 'Bahar' means 'spring', but in Urdu it means 'plentiful'.

Looking forward to see other posts on this subject.

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Old 10th October 2015, 04:57 PM   #4
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I have got it!!!!!!!! I'm absolutely sure of it, and I can prove it!!!
"Phul-katara" it is WOOTZ BLADE!!!!!!!!
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Old 10th October 2015, 05:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Under 'Pata'. The Tarikh-i-Husain Shahi was written about 1580, and about this time several of the states started to chang/or had already changed the language from Persian or Turkish to devangiri/tulu or other languages.
We must expect that Imam ud-din Husaini Chishti, about two centuries later, must have been aware of this, as the same word can mean different things in different languages.
Jens

Of course. I am searching through meny sources and clearly aware of the differences and difficulties. You are quite right it is very difficult to say anything for sure. But in the article (I hope it will be available soon) I found out something about "pata". I hope so. )))
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Old 11th October 2015, 12:27 PM   #6
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About the article in post one. The author writes. "From two independent sources the descriptions of traditional martial practices in Muslim Lucknow, which ceased to exist by the late 19th century, are known." It would have been interesting to know, which two indipendent sources the author refers to.
Under katar. A pity it is not mentioned where Egerton wrote that the katars origin from Nepal and when.

In the article 'How Old is the Katar?', the Journal of Royal Armoury, Leeds. Vol. 10, no 1, 2013, it is taken back to Orissa in the 10th or 11th century.
As the Orissa katar is very primitive I would regard Deccan/South India as the place of origin.

Looking forward to see what you have found out about the 'Phul-katara'.
Elgood in his book Hindu Arms and Ritual writes on page 258. "Thackston (1999) writes there were two types of punch dagger: katar or katara, the utilitarian fighting weapon of the Mughals. Phul means flower, a reference to its decoration."
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Old 11th October 2015, 05:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
About the article in post one. The author writes. "From two independent sources the descriptions of traditional martial practices in Muslim Lucknow, which ceased to exist by the late 19th century, are known." It would have been interesting to know, which two indipendent sources the author refers to[/i]

Dear Jens
I can not put all the article here . It was published in Russian journal and I hope will be soon published in English. But I can write to you in PM.

Quote:
Under katar. A pity it is not mentioned where Egerton wrote that the katars origin from Nepal and when.

Robert Elgood in "Hindu Arms And Ritual", p. 163 wrote "For many years they were attributed to Nepal on the basis of a purchase and attribution by Egerton". Further it is very well written that this kind of dagers rather "a conservative survival".
Oh... I am sorry. In the article it is not about "jamdhar" but simple "katar" or "katari". It is about Egerton's #345 and others like it. Of course, I have got your article.

Quote:
Looking forward to see what you have found out about the 'Phul-katara'.

I will add this part of text to the article in English. May be after translate I will put this part right here.
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Old 11th October 2015, 08:55 PM   #8
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Thank you for your answer.
I believe that the katar origins from the south. Stuard Welsh and others believed so too. But for me it is a believe, till I am convinced it origined from somewhere else.
Researching Indian weapons or weapon names is a passion, where the outcome of the research is not always sure. You can work for a long time, and reach a point where you believe in something, but this does not mean that what you believe in is correct, so you have to go on searching, till you can prove what you believe in.
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Old 11th October 2015, 10:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Thank you for your answer.
I believe that the katar origins from the south. Stuard Welsh and others believed so too. But for me it is a believe, till I am convinced it origined from somewhere else.
Researching Indian weapons or weapon names is a passion, where the outcome of the research is not always sure. You can work for a long time, and reach a point where you believe in something, but this does not mean that what you believe in is correct, so you have to go on searching, till you can prove what you believe in.
Jens



Very, very well said Jens.
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Old 12th October 2015, 02:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Researching Indian weapons or weapon names is a passion, where the outcome of the research is not always sure.


In English, we tend to borrow terms used in other languages and apply them to a specific category of weapon. This is very common, and it teaches us to expect that specific categories of weapons have specific, and fixed, names.

But the words we borrow are often much more generic in their original languages. For example, "gladius" in English means "Roman short sword", and in Latin just means "sword", generically. For example, in Curtius Rufus' "History of Alexander", "Copidas vocabant gladios leviter curvatos, falcibus similes" which we can translate as "They call their lightly-curved sickle-like gladius a "kopis"". While the Romans were happy to call a kopis a "gladius", this doesn't work in English.

If we were trying to find about the evolution of the Roman gladius via literature, we might be misled by sources like this.

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/curtius/curtius8.shtml
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Old 12th October 2015, 03:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
You can work for a long time, and reach a point where you believe in something, but this does not mean that what you believe in is correct, so you have to go on searching, till you can prove what you believe in.
Jens


Very true Jens!

Just when I convince myself something is certain, is usually the moment I realise how much further I need to go to prove my conviction.

It is so important to keep an open mind, and continue the search.
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Old 12th October 2015, 09:52 AM   #12
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In Robert Elgood's book Arma and Armour at the Jaypur Court. The Royal Collection, Robert gives several examples, like on page 216.

Mace. Shashpar (sash in Persian means six - a six-flanged mace). Rajput courts would have seen this as a destinctly Mughal weapon.
If a bladed weapon was added at the top of the mace, would today be called a gurz with a zaghnol mounted at the top. Other Rajput names for a mace are musala or parigha.

My guess is that the Muslims had several words for the same weapon, depending on if they were under Persian, Turkish or maybe Mongol influence.
The Hindus would also have different names for the same weapon, but that would likely have something to do with where in the country they lived, and which language they spoke.
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Old 12th October 2015, 10:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
The Hindus would also have different names for the same weapon, but that would likely have something to do with where in the country they lived, and which language they spoke.
Jens

Exactly! And when someone of European tourists of second half of 19th century heard some of local names and now we have to see it in albums and repeat it as mantra it is not serious.
But even more ridiculous when the tourist asked someone "What is it" and Indian seller answered "It is for cutting, crushing, killing..." so now we have a lot of confusion from "katar", "katari", "katara", "bank", "bichwa", "kirch" and so. I am not talking about that sometimes Indian weapon was called like the material from which it was made ))
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Old 12th October 2015, 08:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Looking forward to see what you have found out about the 'Phul-katara'.[/i]

"...Jahangir already gives a clear definition of the push dagger as a "jamdhar", as far as one can understand from the descriptions he makes of their use. At the same time, in Jahangir`s memoirs and other sources appear daggers with a "phul-katara" (a jeweled khapwa with a phul-katara). It is pointed out that apart from the something (of course hilt or sheath, not blade) studded with gems, the dagger has a "costly phul-katara" . The term "katara" - "cut"- leaves no doubt that it is the blade that the term in question is applied to. The meaning of the word "phul" - "flower", "flowery", “flourished” is etymologically related to the meanings "flowerage", "floral decorations" or "artistically done". It may also be assumed that blades decorated with carving, koftgari, or merely skillfully made ones, are meant. However by the 19th century, the term "phul" already defines a head of spear, sabre and dagger blade , and later merely a "sharp blade". That being said, it would be most likely to suppose that implied are flowery, patterned blades, that is the wootz, watered steel ones.
It should also be noted that there was a custom to call objects according to the blade material. So, for example, the term "sukhela" is not a distinct weapon type, but refers to the fact that the blade is made of "sukhela" - a combination of soft and hard iron, or, according to some sources, an inexpensive wootz steel type..."
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Old 12th October 2015, 08:45 PM   #15
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To accomplish a serious study of the names of Indian weapons one needs to know a multitude of local languages and carefully go through mountains of primary sources. To make things even worse , one needs to verify the meaning of the name of each weapon through careful interrogation of its actual users, and there are none left.

I am very pessimistic about the outcome of this endeavor......
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Old 12th October 2015, 09:06 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I am very pessimistic about the outcome of this endeavor......

But you can read that the others know. This is a normal process of learning.
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Old 13th October 2015, 02:48 PM   #17
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Interesting idea about the meaning of the word 'phul'. I think it is worth researching it a bit to see if there anywhere else is evidence that support the idea.

Ariel is right, it will not be easy.
However a way in which it can be done, is to find the names used in Rajasthan at a certain time, both the Persian names but also the local Hindu names. This way the area is geographically bound.
Also one could start with a limited number of weapons.

Jens
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Old 13th October 2015, 09:57 PM   #18
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I should not make excuses for my researches. I believe that only professional linguist can to prove something through the manipulation of languages and words.
But I am sure if someone is interesting in Indian culture and weapons he should be interested in something more than staring at the colorful albums. That is why I started my researches in Indian weaponry instead of talking on forums like "I am very pessimistic about my ... abilities".

Dear Jens
Only just for "a little bit to see":
phul = پھل = fruit, flower, blade, razor and so
फौल = Phūla = flower
फौलादा = Phaulādī = fulad (steel)

It is only one of the possible translations. But very interesting one ))
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Old 13th October 2015, 11:49 PM   #19
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Hi Mercenary,

Difficult not to fall in the trap of phonetically similar words.

Have a look at Dr. Ann Feuerbach's summary on the research done to date on the word pulad:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=502

Emanuel

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Old 14th October 2015, 01:48 AM   #20
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Dear Mercenary:
I would just humbly suggest to read the first paragraph of the page 9 from Elgood's book on Jaipur collection. One may learn why in Rajastan the khanjar is chhurri and the Kard is Chaqu.
Also , his book about Hindu weapons informs us that Bichwa is Bichwa in Mysore and Hyderabad , but Baku in Kannada and Vinchu in Marathi.

And, BTW, Portugese version of the origin of Indian Pata traces it to the ( surprise, surprise!) Portugese word for paw:-)

Studying origin of words and names is a province of linguistics. This, by definition, requires fluent ( or, at the very least, working ) knowledge of the languages in question.

In the absense thereof, one is doomed to compile the already known bits and pieces from older publications. Rather boring, isn't it? Staring at colorful albums is more productive and original in comparison: at least one may have a chance to see something new and heretofore unappreciated:-)

But if that what tickles your fancy, good luck to you!
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Old 14th October 2015, 07:29 AM   #21
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Actually, as one whose 'fancy is tickled' by virtually all aspects of the study of not just the arms and armour of India, but all, I must say that I am always delighted to see serious interest in pursuing topics such as this.
I wholeheartedly encourage these endeavors, and am always optimistic in active and constructive research and discussion in hopes that previously unknown facts might unfold.

As can be seen, the 'name game' (as we often affectionately refer to this aspect of arms research) has been an often approached subject, with the excellent comments and examples as well as positive perspective in the entries of most here.

Very much looking forward to development of this topic, and as always, to learning more on these things together here.
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Old 14th October 2015, 09:54 AM   #22
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Unfortunately my knowledge to the Indian languages is more than limited, so I can not be of much help, but years ago Robert Elgood showed me a manuscript, and if I remember correctly it was a glossery over the Indian weapon names.
I dont know if he still is working on it, or if he has given it up.
Jens
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Old 14th October 2015, 11:29 AM   #23
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There are glossaries in both of his "indian" books. As usual, both were meticulously researched. I can safely bet that he discussed the entries with native specialists.

For an endeavor like that, especially if the topic is a multiethnic society, one needs equal fluency in languages as well as deep knowledge of history in general, local crafts and , - in particular,- weapons per se


But eventually it is the language that will be presented to the reader.
I just got an English version of the Turkish book "Sultanlarin Silahlari". Shock to the system! The author/translator had no understanding of elementary weapon terminology in English. Took me quite some time to figure out that the word "fuller" indicated the ... entire blade:-)

Glossaries serve as precision tools for a multitude of researchers and need to be obsessively accurate. Their authorship needs to be left to superspecialists of Elgood's caliber. Amateurish forays into phonetic similarities, imprecise translations and erroneous definitions are bound to confuse generations of well-meaning readers and researchers.
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Old 14th October 2015, 12:55 PM   #24
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Well said Ariel. Confusion is an all too frequent state of mind when we amateurs play the "name game." Robert Elgood is one of the few dedicated to getting it right when it comes to edged weapons.

Ian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
....
Glossaries serve as precision tools for a multitude of researchers and need to be obsessively accurate. Their authorship needs to be left to superspecialists of Elgood's caliber. Amateurish forays into phonetic similarities, imprecise translations and erroneous definitions are bound to confuse generations of well-meaning readers and researchers.
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Old 14th October 2015, 01:16 PM   #25
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Thanks, Ian.
Stone and van Zonneveld immediately come to mind.

Many an enthusiastic and semiliterate dilettante tried to bite Stone's ankles for real or perceived inaccuracies. But even at its worst his Glossary is heads and shoulders above the crowd. I may need a new copy soon: mine is dog-eared from long and heavy use. The best compliment for a book:-)
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Old 14th October 2015, 01:32 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
And, BTW, Portugese version of the origin of Indian Pata traces it to the ( surprise, surprise!) Portugese word for paw:-)...

Let me also vote for surprise that not for probability. Indeed paw in portuguese is pata; with accentuation on the first 'a'.
I don't know how wide this attribution is spread out there; i find it, for one, in the (bilingual) work Rites of Power by Dr. Caravana, a phisician and collector. However he cares to write that the term will possibly be connected to such Portuguese terminology. Even so, a surprising assumption from his part, once one of his menthors and supplier, Rainer Raehnhardt, pretends that the term Pata ( quote: ) comes from the Patãs (Pathan), one of several divisions of the Xátria (Kchatrya) cast.
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Old 14th October 2015, 04:16 PM   #27
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Well, old Willy Shakespeare probably said it best.
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
...or cut as deep, eh?
Honestly, i do enjoy linguistics to some extent and find it a rather interesting field. However, in the end, how we name a weapon tells us very little about it in the long run. I am far more interested in it's cultural significance, how it was used and maintained, what symbolism might be connected to it aside from its functional use, how in might fit into the sociological hierarchy, etc. than with the actual naming of the thing. In the end names only serve to allow us as collectors to understand what thing we are actually discussing. This can lead to confusion at times as even "correct" names for the same thing can vary from region to region. Often enough the "proper" name for a weapon literally translates into something like "sword" or "knife" anyway. Perhaps we put too much focus on the name game and not enough on the meat of the matter.
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Old 14th October 2015, 04:33 PM   #28
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A rather eloquent entry, David .
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Old 14th October 2015, 06:03 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emanuel
Hi Mercenary,
Difficult not to fall in the trap of phonetically similar words.
Emanuel

Hi Emanuel
Why did you decide that it is any "phonetically similar words"?
It was said that the term Phaulādī is directly related with the word "flower". As well as the term "Phul" in "Phul-katara". What else? "Phul" means "fulad". It's obvious. Isn't it?

Quote:
but years ago Robert Elgood showed me a manuscript, and if I remember correctly it was a glossery over the Indian weapon names.

You mean a table with lines of weapons from the Jaipur museum? I translated it. I specifically went there from time to time in three years. Nothing particularly interesting. All daggers are "choree", all sabres are "tulwar". But there are some interesting moments. I will work on it.

You all are right to say that the terms that we now have in respected books in the main are the confusion of the languages. This is what I write in my article about. But it is not just confusion of nouns and names. It is also mix of verbs)))

Last edited by Mercenary : 14th October 2015 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 14th October 2015, 08:00 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emanuel

Have a look at Dr. Ann Feuerbach's summary on the research done to date on the word pulad:

O! I have realized what the problem is. I am sorry. It is not your fault. In India a lot of curators of museums and sekligarhs consider that pulad is फौलादा (Phaulādī). That is fact.
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