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Old 1st September 2009, 12:31 AM   #1
sabertasche
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Default Tulwar Hilt Types

Hi all, it has been some time since I've participated in the forum and thought I'd ask a few questions of the more advanced collectors of Indian arms. Ove the years I've been fortunate to pick up several "Indian" swords, commonly refered to as Tulwars. When you do a search within the forum there are many, many pages on such swords, most seem to discuss the blade. In the sword that I have and those that I have examined, I've noticed that the hilts vary considerably in quality and condition compared to the blade. This leads me to believe that hilts were commonly exchanged. This certainly makes sense to me based on the hard use of the blades over time. My questions really are regarding the hilts.

In several posts, a collector will call a hilt Lahore, or Sinde etc and I'm still trying to figure out what typilifies such hilt? From reading posts within the forum I've come to identify enamelled hilts with Lahore but this is probably much too simplistic. So what I'm looking for is, based on the shape and construction of the hilt can you determine where in India a particular hilt was made?

Attached are some pics of swords hilts that I have in my collection. All vary in the quality of thier construction and condition. Please note the the orientation of the quillons and whether the pommel is dished or flat. Note that one hilt has sepperately applied swans on the knuckle guard. What is the significance of this?

My goal is to look a hilt and be able to generally say based on the shape "that's a Sinde or Delhi hilt!"

Cheers,

Greg
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Old 1st September 2009, 03:56 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Hi Greg,
You have asked the question of the ages that continuously tears at nearly all enthusiasts of Indian weapons, particularly those interested in tulwars. The truth is that there are no finite attributions to these hilts, commonly termed Indo-Muslim in style, and there have been many attempts to find consistancies in typology and classification.

It is not only the hilt and the elements of it, but often comprehensive assessment of the sword altogether which is necessary for any semblance of identification. Most of the individuals who seriously study these, are basing opinions on certain characteristics from available literature and regularly handing various examples. While I feel I have a working knowledge of many of these in degree, I am far from presuming any expertise, and there are a number of guys here who have far more experience, Jens Nordlund being my first thought.

I am not sure which references you have, but I am hoping you have the following:
1. "The Indian Sword" P.S. Rawson 1968
2. " Indian Arms & Armour" G.N.Pant, 1980
3. "Handbook of Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour" Egerton,1880,
4. "On Damascus Steel" L. Figiel, 1991
5. "Arms and Armour: Traditional Weapons of India" E Jaiwent Paul,2005

These references represent the benchmarks on which most of the research and assessments concerning tulwars are based to date, and there are of course a number of focused projects at present trying to accomplish exactly the same guidelines you mention.

Using the references I have mentioned, it is important to try to define the history of key locations used to describe tulwars. It seems that Lucknow was one of the key centers for enamelling, and some of the other elaborate decoration. This was essentially a Mughal location.

The most prevalent region for tulwars would be Rajasthan, a broad area which includes Banswara, which is one of the locations that seems noted for the swanlike, recurved knuckleguard you have noted. The northern part comprises Udaipur, and the bottom hilt in your grouping with peaked grip, squared langet, large flat dish pommel is considered Udaipur style according to Pant, and these seem invariably throughout the 19th century.

The Udaipur regions were essentially Rajput, and tulwars with knuckleguards may often be considered Rajput, but also perhaps Sikh, which is the third basic denominator for tulwars.

However, the hilt you show with vertical ribbed grip (very much like Figiel, pp.56-57) is considered an 18th century pattern, and these have been considered generally a Rajasthan form of hilt, however these are often seen with clearly Mughal blades. This illustrates how fragile the potential for accurate identification is, as these hilts were often made in one location and supplied to armourers elsewhere, not to mention constant diplomatic contacts and intrigue.



Lahore is the center for the Punjab, and most often noted in referring to tulwars which are often decorated with certain koftgari patterns and motifs.
I have been told that the book by Susan Strong, "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms" (1999) has excellent examples illustrating this type of koftgari (nos. 151,152,155,158,159,162, 171, 172) . By examining these examples you might be able to recognize typological forms associated with Sikh forms of tulwar and weapons.
One always hopes to find the gurumakhi script on a weapon that will irrevocably define it as a Sikh weapon, but these are hard to find.

The most confusing term used for tulwar hilts is 'delhishahi' which of course suggests these are from Delhi, and they exist with open hilt or with knucklebow.

Key variations are seen in the pommels, and the dome or capstan or both atop the disc, which may be dished, bowl or flat.

The only reference to a Sindhi tulwar type I can find at the moment seems to be in Egerton (#729) from Haiderabad (in Sind, as opposed to the Hyderabad in the Deccan). This has an open hilt, domed pommel. Egerton notes on p.135, "...Sindian arms approach more closely the Persian than the Afghan type".
I have seen examples of sabres with steel Persian shamshir type hilt and tulwar form langets and quillons, that I sincerely suspect to be from regions of Sind, perhaps more north. Persian shamshirs are well known in Mughal courts in standard form as well, and in Rawson are termed 'tulwar'. In my experience, Sind is not a designation I often hear for tulwars, although clearly they exist there, but are probably not made there.

Mughals were more inclined to have Persian blades, and this is often a factor, also I have seen references that the flueret shape on quillon terminals is a Mughal characteristic.
Tulwars did not typically reach into the southern India regions, with the exception of Mysore and Tipu Sultan, as well as other Mughal dominions intermediate.

One of the more subtle, and key elements that is hoped to define any type of regionality and period for tulwar hilt types is the botanical and floral motif chosen. You have wisely shown the pommel dish decoration, which is also very important, and often carries a solar motif, key to certain Rajput clans as well as thier traditions. Variations in this decoration can reflect other attribution as well.

I hope this is of any help, and it is not just stuff I know, but have been reviewing as I wrote. I have learned a bit myself as I have written this, and I look forward to thoughts and/or corrections from others who are more familiar with these fascinating swords.

All the best,
Jim

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 1st September 2009 at 06:22 AM.
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Old 2nd September 2009, 12:36 AM   #3
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Couple of years ago, a gentleman from the UK gave a talk in Timonium addressing this topic ( for the life of me, I cannot remember his name, dang!!!)
He said that there is only one type of "tulwar" handle that can be attributed to a particular place/group: Sikhs had one with symmetrical and rather sharp projections on both sides of the handle, similar to the last example here.
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Old 2nd September 2009, 01:04 AM   #4
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Ariel,

I believe that was Jonathan Barrett, the speaker at the forum meeting that is.
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Old 2nd September 2009, 01:40 AM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Couple of years ago, a gentleman from the UK gave a talk in Timonium addressing this topic ( for the life of me, I cannot remember his name, dang!!!)
He said that there is only one type of "tulwar" handle that can be attributed to a particular place/group: Sikhs had one with symmetrical and rather sharp projections on both sides of the handle, similar to the last example here.

As Charles has noted, it was indeed Jonathan Barrett, and one of the most spellbinding talks I have ever heard. The tulwar style at the bottom that I noted with peaked profile at center of grip and elongated rectangular grip and often termed Udaipur, are indeed often attributed to Sikhs.

In the following years as I tried to discover a means of identifying Sikh weapons, I once was told by Parmjit Singh ( coauthor of "Warrior Saints", "..if it is a sword used by a Sikh, then it is Sikh!". )
Jonathan Barrett was kind enough to suggest the notes I included regarding the Susan Stronge book and using the koftgari motif as a means of some degree of recognition in the Lahori weapons.

Thanks for the input guys
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Old 2nd September 2009, 12:54 PM   #6
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Hi Greg,

Please tell me if the fluted hilt with the hand guard has a rope like decoration on the edge of the disc.

The bird on the hand guard could be a swan as mentioned, but it could also be a crane.
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Old 2nd September 2009, 04:29 PM   #7
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Greg, this is not an easy way you have started to walk – but it most surely is an interesting one. Taking an interest in the early history of India, as well as different Indian arts and architecture will help. So when you have read a stack of books on these and other subject on Indian arts, and decided which authors you believe in, as some use texts from others, but rewrite it, so it can be difficult to see from where it is; then you are on the right road – and start to regard all information’s with scepticism from the start, till you are satisfied yourself. To have a theory is always good, but one must remember that it is a theory till proven.

I have made some research on the shown diamond shaped tulwar hilt, you can see the result below, before you do, you should notice that these hilts come in slim, medium and extra large, like most of the other hilts.

This tulwar comes from Udaipur, but it does not prove that this hilt type origins from there like Pant claimed - but never proved. However, he could be right, but as he is dead now, it is up to the rest of us to prove it – if it can be proven.

This tulwar has a hilt of diamond shape, with relatively long, slender quillons, flat at the end. The langets are long, slim and cut off straight at the end. The disc pommel is relatively large, placed in a right angle to the grip, with a sun with rays at the top, and the flower in the middle ends in a short spike. The decoration, is very easily recognised, is in a floral motif in gold koft gari.

The blade is pattern welded in an almost step pattern. It has two short fullers at each side of the langets, ending with three dots. Two long fullers along the blade, one ending at the false edge, and the other further down, both start and end with three dots.

Total length 88.5 cm. Length of blade 76 cm. Ricasso 6 cm. Hilt 18.5 cm. Disc 7.4 cm. Width of quillons 10.4 cm. Length of langet 6.9 cm.

Inscriptions:

On the back of the blade, near the hilt an inscription in Arabic letters reading ‘Shaika Nanhu Musavi’. The inscription is in Urdu and translates to ‘The Honourable young Musavi’. Musavi is a common Muslim name, and Musa is derived from the Jewish name Moses.

Under the disc, around the edge of the grip is another inscription in Devnagiri, reading ‘Shri JodhSinghji S(a)l B (‘B’ stands for Bahadur, a prominent religious deity in Gujarat/Kutch.) 1927’. The year 1927 is given in the Vikrama Samvat era and corresponds to 1870-71 AD, during the rule of Rao Jodh Singh II of. Salumbar. And so the translation potentially reads ‘Shri (a title given to royalty) Jodh Singh Bahadur Salumbar 1927’.

The second part of the text says, ‘Maharaja Dhi Raj Shri Maha Rao (N) Ji Shri’, and translates roughly as ‘His Royal Magnificent Highness’.

Salumbar (Thikana) was a small kingdom in Udaipur, which is among one of the most prestigious states of the Hindu state of Mewar. As Salumbar was part of Udaipur/Mewar they paid tribute to the ruler of Udaipur.

The main part of the Mewar Rajput rulers belonged to the Sisodiya clan, of which there are several branches and sub branches.

The Guhilots ruled Mewar from the 8th to the 14th century, and the Sisodias ruled from the 14th and they are still Maharajas of Mewar.

When the rule by the Sisodias of the Chundawat clan started in Salumbar is not clear, but the first ruler was Rawat Chunda Singh, who was succeeded by his son Rawat Kandhal Singh, who again was succeeded by his son Rawat Ratan Singh I, who died in 1527, so their rule goes back for centuries. The present Rawat of the same old family, the twenty-eight, Rawat Devrath Singh, Succeeded his father who died in 2002.

In 1901 the population is said to have been 31’000, so it was a relatively small state.

Rao Jodh Singh II was the 24th ruler, borne 1833 in Bambora, ruling from 1863 to 1901(?) He adopted Kunwar (A title given to the son of a ruler during his father’s lifetime.) Tej Singh, the third son of Rao Bhupal Singh of Bhadesar. Tej Singh died young, and so the fourth son of Rao Bupal Singh was adopted, but did not succeed there, as Onar Singh in 1901 was the next Rao of Salumbar.

The families of Salumbar and Bhadesar were related, as the first ruler of Bhadesar, Rao Bhairav Singh was the second son of Rao Bhim Singh, the 19th ruler of Salumbar.

BTW please keep you pictures together. I suppose that your pictures 1, 2 and 5 are of the same object, and that pictures 3 and forur are from the same hilt.
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Old 2nd September 2009, 08:46 PM   #8
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Now thats what I'm talkin' about!!!!
This is tulwar research of the most quintessant degree!!! and characteristic of the kind of work done by Jens.

This magnificent example, with well researched data in the markings and motif reflect that the sword is from Mewar in Udaipur and the period, as well as the inscriptions revealing the syncretic associations of faiths clearly extant in diplomatic parlance of the time.
While this example seems to support the claims by the late Dr. Pant as this being an Udaipur form of hilt, there still needs to be other corroborating examples with this magnitude of provenance to establish this form conclusively as to this region alone.
We can however state, that generally these types of diamond shape (peaked grip) hilt with square end langets and very large dish pommel are likely produced in Udaipur regions.

Greg, often with identification of these types of examples, it is best to classify them as 'of the form typically attributed to Udaipur' for example.
The other forms discussed are typically with less definition, and we always try to find these kinds of provenance on forms to be joined with other similar examples and hopefully establishing at least a degree of guidelines for further research.

The quest never ends


Absolutely magnificent Jens!!! Thank you so much for providing such an excellent example to perfectly illustrate this research.


All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 3rd September 2009, 04:33 PM   #9
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Thank you Jim. It was nice of you to write, as no one else seems to be interested any more.

There are a few things, which I should have mentioned, but now I have the opportunity to do so. Seeing weapons in Indian armouries, or weapons marked in the different armouries, is most interesting, but you must be aware of a few things. The weapons could have been made at the armoury, but they don’t have to be, although marked at the armoury the reason for this are the many wars going on in India during the centuries, and with the wars came the looting, so the weapons may have changed hands many times, and come from many different places, before they end up in our collections.

An example could be the Raja’s of Bikaner, as many of them served in the Mughal army as officers and were highly decorated, as the soldiers of Bikaner were regarded some of the best. On Raja especially (sorry I can’t recall his name at the moment) participated in a lot of battles, often as a general, and ended up as governor of Deccan for twenty years. What he ‘collected’ after all his battles, we can’t know; but one thing is sure – what he collected of weapons he sent back to the Bikaner armoury, where it was dot marked. So in many of the Rajasthan armouries you will find weapons, marked or not, for a lot of different places in India.
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Old 3rd September 2009, 10:44 PM   #10
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Hi Jens,
It seems one of the unfortunate realities that some individuals seem to ask questions on very pertinant topics, and when responses are made, we have no way of knowing whether the efforts extended were of any use as they simply do not make note or courtesy responses.

I would think that out of courtesy, one would follow up on thier posts, and try to make a comment or thank you. Sometimes maybe they are having computer trouble or a hard time at work or who knows, in any case, it clearly is often disappointing.

I do know that most of my writing is often for my own learning , which comes from the research necessary to write on the topics I address, and I complete the posts to hopefully share what I have found with others. Despite the lack of response which is sometimes apparant, the information extended by those of us participating and shared is typically pertinant in some degree, and often serves for future research for those who do use the search functions here.

I always get excited when I see topics concerning Indian arms, as it does seem the subject becomes dormant frequently, and I am always hoping for new entries. Thanks again!

All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 4th September 2009, 01:00 AM   #11
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I'd just like to say, please carry on... all this hilt variation and all is a bit confusing but I am reading and re-reading... thanks for being good researchers and fountains of knowledge.
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Old 4th September 2009, 07:32 AM   #12
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Great info guys, highly appreciated. I'm just a beginner in the serious study of this subject matter (swords from South Asia and neighboring areas) and appreciate any relevant info. I find myself in India fairly often these days and am planning to look up museums with decent arms collections.
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Old 4th September 2009, 09:12 AM   #13
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I too find this topic very interesting as a new collector of these arms.

What strikes me about the tulwar hilts that we commonly see is that there are a limited number of features which can be mixed and matched, but which somehow must provide some reliable information if only we knew the history of the pieces.
I wonder does anyone know if there has been anyone working on morphometric studies of these perhaps in a similar way to cladistics in taxonomy? Such an analysis would always be reliant on good provenence (and messed up by the kind of battlefield collecting and subequent armory marking mentioned by Jens), but given enough material might be able to create some generic rules. Maybe this kind of study has been applied to other weapon groups already? I would imagine it would work well for Indonesian weapons too since these seem to well understood in terms for form and tribal origins. Just an idle idea from a biologist
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Old 4th September 2009, 04:27 PM   #14
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Thank you so much guys for the kind words and encouragement! It is truly heartening to see the interest in Indian arms and armour drawing new interest and while there has been a great deal of study done, there is clearly so much more to be done.

Mefidk, most interesting approach and extremely well placed suggestions!
It does seem that many weapon groups have been discussed and considered in these kinds of considerations, such as the development of the sabre; the flyssa of Berber North Africa; the Kastane of Sri Lanka and numerous other ethnographic forms.
As for European and regulation military weapons, the same types of taxonomical approach is often used in a sense by associating features and elements of hilts of various countries and looking for influences by comparison.
Often interesting examples of the joining of ethnographic and military forms are seen, which leads to fascinating examples.

In this regard, there are numbers of instances of this with tulwars for example with the Native regiments of the British Raj. I have seen examples of British made tulwars (by Mole of Birmingham) as well as regimentally marked specimens.

Getting back to the subject of classification, I have always been a firm believer in comprehensive study of many subjects in researching a weapon or group of weapons with certain similiarities, but find the suggestion of classification in biological terms absolutely intriguing. Up until now, I had only thought of that perspective in terms of convergent evolution

As is well known, the movement of blades cross culturally via trade, warfare or colonial presence, and combinations of all of these, has brought wide diffusion worldwide to them. The study of hilt forms is typically a matter of local preference, though certain influences transmitted in much the same manner as blades cannot be discounted.

There have been many efforts to try to establish certain classifications for tulwar hilt forms, pribably one of the most well known being the work by Dr. G.N.Pant, "Indian Arms and Armour". While the examples shown in this work reveal certain styles of hilts of tulwars having a degree of consistancy, the classifications assigned can probably be best described as somewhat arbitrary. The intense diversity of ethnicity, religions, cultures, languages, tribal warfare and colonial incursions of many world powers are just the primary dynamics which reflect the constant state of flux constantly present in the colorful history of this fascinating nation, ironically also presents many challenges in the study of her weapons.

While these factors offer exciting opportunities in researching these weapons, in many respects they present undeniable barriers as well.
The diffusion of hilt forms in tulwars is one of the ever present reasons why it is difficult to assign regional classifications to thier variations. The examples with known provenance in early works ,by Egerton for example, are noted by the region from which they were presented. This meant that these specific examples may well have been indiginous to the region from which they were brought...but then again, may have been collected from the battlefields as described, or perhaps had been gifts or holdings in the local armoury from elsewhere.

The only remedy for this conundrum is typically noting significant volume of like provenanced examples, which would establish the likelihood that a certain type or style of hilt actually was prevalent in that region. With this, the next hurdle is to determine the 'morphometrics' with examination of examples that might reveal progressive dates or periods to discover chronological development of the form.

Again, thank you guys for joining in here! And while many of you note you are new to this field of collecting, please remember here we are all students....and we learn together by sharing. Please submit any examples and questions openly so that we might all gain by discussing them.

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 4th September 2009, 04:33 PM   #15
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In Memorials of the Jaypore Exhibition 1883, Hendley in vol. II, plate LVIII shows three hilts. From left to right, Gujarat, Jaypore and Gujarat. A hilt like the last one is also shown on plate LVII, but this one has a double hand guard, to protect the fingers and the hand.

Often the old authors would use the armoury labels when they described a weapon, and if a weapon was wrongly labelled they did not always notice it, so later authors who used the books, as a source would repeat the mistake, and sometimes the mistake would be accepted, as it had been repeated many times. In this case however, I think it is safe to accept Hendley’s statement as the hilts were sent to the exhibition, and at that time they were newly made.
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Old 4th September 2009, 04:39 PM   #16
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Jens,
We crossed posts!!
I had forgotten that magnificent reference, Hendley!!! Thank you for sharing the perfect illustration of the note on attribution of examples, and the great photo.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 4th September 2009, 09:51 PM   #17
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I think it is a good thread, and I am wondering why more dealers do not participate, as they should be ineterested in this kind of discussion. There are a lot of dealers on this forum, so why do they not come forward and give their version?
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Old 4th September 2009, 11:29 PM   #18
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Fair call Jens.

Like weapons from many times and cultures, an exercise in absolute correct identification of Indian hilts is an exact science and one I am sure many of us all learn a little about each day, I know I do.

Learned colectors such as yourself, Jim and others from Mother England, I am sure would be better versed on the subject than most due to Englands long standing interest/history with India.

My Niche and passion is Chinese and this is where most of my spare time is directed, this Indian hilt ID is a steep leaning curve and something I personnaly have not commited to memory.
I rely on friends, generous people within this forum and reference books from some of the great authors throughout time and use these when needed and thus learn in the process...a good chance to learn further soon as three are on their way to me and I can add these hilts to the topic at hand.

From conversations I have had over time with various Sikhs (not always an absolute authority), they have always indicated sword hilts and blade shapes are based on religion so I would assume that one must consider Indian religions and the placement of these ethic groups devoted to certain worship throughout India to better gleam an idea of proper identification.

It is a very good thread that is going here and working through the processes to find if there is an exact science is what is needed but as noted above, one must also understand trade centres that made hilts and where they were traded to.
I know I'd love to pinpoint with a degree of exactness, the Sosun Patta I have in my personal collection so I will be reading and researching further when time permits and share these observations when they come to hand.

As I noted above, reference books are invaluable, if you can afford them, grab them, seek them out and ask fellow collectors for titles, we can't all know everything, but as a collective, such as this forum, so much more can be revealed as many heads are looking in many directions.

I hope these comments open up some further discussion too.

Regards

Gav

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Old 5th September 2009, 01:12 AM   #19
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Fantastic post Gav!!!!
Jens, here is the one exception I know of to most dealers, who typically avoid involvement in discussions concerning the scholarly discussion of research on weapons.
Thank you Gav for these outstanding observations, which truly recognize the inherent complexities in organized study of these tulwars, as well as the well placed perspective you always add in these discussions.

All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 5th September 2009, 05:08 PM   #20
Jens Nordlunde
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Gav,

Too much knowledge about the Indian weapons have gone lost over the centuries, either be course it was not written down, or maybe be course it was burned during one of the many fires after the battles, so what we do, is trying to put the few pieces we have/can find together to get a picture of how it was. On the literature I would say, if you have less books on the subject than you have weapons, you have too many weapons – or perhaps, too few books.

I would be very surprised if studying the Indian weapons could be turned into an exact science, as there are so many aspects involved. Trade, looting, armouries being emptied by the English Raj, some weapons sold while others were sent to the iron mills, the emptying of armouries late 19th century by dealers, and early 20th century, also by dealers – who, for different reasons did not tell from which armouries the weapons came, so a lot of evidence has been destroyed along the way, or the truth not told, and even to day you can find weapons on the market, which recently have left the armoury of a Maharaja, unofficially. Sometimes specific markings are removed to destroy evidence of from which armoury the weapon came.

So, with time and patience it is sometimes possible to pinpoint a weapon, or maybe a hilt – but it takes a lot of time and a lot of reading.
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Old 6th September 2009, 04:28 PM   #21
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Hi,
This is a really interesting subject, unfortunately I am not able to add any academic insight but here are a few photos of more hilts.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 6th September 2009, 04:55 PM   #22
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Thank you Norman.

When I wrote that the hilts come in small, medium and large I did not mean the hilt sizes, but the grip widths, you can especially see this on the diamond shaped hilts. The hilt shown is from one of Hendley’s books and shows a slim version of the diamond shaped hilt. Notice that the quillons are not flat, but the langets are square.

I wonder where we lost Sabretask?

Sorry I should have added that Hendley writes this hilt is from Jodhpur.
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Last edited by Jens Nordlunde; 6th September 2009 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 6th September 2009, 05:09 PM   #23
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This one is the most interesting I have.
In addition to a very good wootz blade, it has a COPPER handle that still bears remnants of gilding. I am aware of Elgood's comments on the use of copper for handles, but would like to hear opinions on how frequent they were and the potential origin/age of this one. No markings anywhere.
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Old 6th September 2009, 09:29 PM   #24
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wrong posting
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Old 8th September 2009, 09:44 PM   #25
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Why is it wrong posting? That's a nice "Standard Indian Hilt", Ariel:-)
Here is another, similar shaped hilt. My question is: would the decorations say more than the shape? I am sure they would, and this is where it gets really complicated:-)
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Old 10th September 2009, 04:52 PM   #26
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Thank you Alex for showing the hilt. Is the decoration on the blade silver?

Few hilts can, to my knowledge, be put in a box labelled with the name of one of the Indian states. As far too many of the hilts were use over a very big area – they became fashion so to say.

When it comes to the decoration it is mostly the same. Lotus, roses, chrysanthemums, carnations, poppies and others are frequently seen, but here too it is, at best, very difficult – often even to recognise the flower, as working in metal is difficult and to this comes the artistic touch, plus, the artist had to fill the whole surface, so if he had some extra space he would have to invent a flower with extra petals or something else fitting into the scheme.

With this said, I agree with you, that it sometimes is possible to connect the hilt forms and the way the decoration is made. This, however, takes a lot of time, and you will need to see more hilts than most on this forum will ever see – and to be able to remember them and their details.

Attached a 'slim' version of a diamond shaped hilt.
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Old 11th September 2009, 09:16 PM   #27
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Jens,
The blade is only chiselled, it has no inlays. The handle MAY not be original to the blade, and later replacement.
You are right - it'd be an enormous academic undertaking to be able to relay geometrical decorations to geographical locations. I know of only one person who's able to come close:-)
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Old 11th September 2009, 09:45 PM   #28
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Alex,

I find the hilt Ariel is showing very interesting. It is from Rajasthan, but it is made of copper - and this is interesting as few hilts made of copper comes from this area.

Long ago I thought that certain flowers could be related to certain areas – now I am not so sure any more, unless if you regard the areas as very big one – like Rajasthan. In some parts some flowers will be seen more often than in other areas, and the poppy seems to be very popular. However they may be made in different ways, so they can be difficult to recognise. what I think we should be looking for is a connection between the flowers/decoration and what it meant to the people at the time.

The hilt forms is almost the same, some hilts were traded and some looted, while others may have been made in a style different from what was common in that part of the country – this does not make it any easier. But if we collectors try long and hard enough, I believe that one day one of us will find a key to, at least some of the tilts.

Jens
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Old 13th September 2009, 04:09 AM   #29
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Jens, many thanks for your input. I am not a dedicated collector of Indian swords, but could not resist this one ( moreover, when none of you, guys, seemed to jump into the fray :-)): this is the first and only copper-hilted tulwar I've seen ever.
Elgood writes that contact with iron seemed to pollute hands of Brahmins ( spiritually, of course) and heavy silvering and/or gilding was the way around the problem. Also, red copper was spiritually connected with fighting fervor.
Here we had a double whammy: gilded copper. Must have been viewed as totally "kosher" from the religious point of view:-) And a wootz blade must have been a nice cherry on top....
Any thoughts on age?
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Old 13th September 2009, 10:33 PM   #30
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This might explain the (formerly) fully silver clad handle on my kirach .
Thanks Ariel .
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