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Old 22nd December 2005, 02:54 PM   #1
Andy Davis
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Default Tulwar broadsword??

Hello all
Some of the observant of you may have seen this before but it arrived today and it seems a real oddity.
Rather short at 33" but most usable.
Odd brass open bell shaped pommel, closer to pulwar style but tulwar handle in all other respects. Cant see any joins, in body of handle, so seems a solid casting but light.
The blade???? double edged, broadsword in style with single fuller to both sides. Appears hand forged, as there is uneveness to it and may have originally been a little longer, as it appears to have been sharpend down over time.
Etching, is similar on both sides, moon and stars, which seems to occure on European and some North African swords
Seems to me to be a union of a early European style with Indian, though the kaskara likeness is also obvious. Any ideas?

Cheers
Andy
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Old 22nd December 2005, 03:25 PM   #2
Jens Nordlunde
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Hi Andy,


If you trust Pant on this one, the hilt type is either from Sind or Delhi, although I have a feeling, that the slim hilts with the, not very big, saucer shaped discs, with the short not too thick quillons, would be from Sind.
The fluted design on the handle, and the ‘straps’ bound around the handle at the top and at the bottom, most likely is reminiscence from the very old hilts made of wood, where the fluted design represents leather or other material, wound around the hilt, kept in place by the ‘straps’.
The blade looks European to me, but it is hard to say, so as you have the sword, I will take your word for it, if you say it is Indian made, copying an European blade.
Nice tulwar.


Jens

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Old 22nd December 2005, 03:54 PM   #3
ariel
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Where did I read that a slightly downturned quillons are usually seen on older handles? Rawson?
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Old 22nd December 2005, 04:15 PM   #4
Lew
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Hi Andy

So your the one who got this beauty I was bidding on it but forgot to up my bid a the last minute I think it is an older hilt style from the 1600s the blade seems German to me.


Lew
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Old 22nd December 2005, 04:33 PM   #5
Andy Davis
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Default It was me

Hi Lew
Ah sorry about that. Most tulwars get spotted on Ebay and get a bit too pricey for what they are at times. This one seems to be one that got away, closed at an odd time or was forgotten by too many. I've done the same thing myself.
On this I just put in a price, that I thought it would go over and settled to the thought that somebody else would get it. I was bl****! surprised when I won. Not the first time thats happend but so very rarely.
While it has obviously been well maintained or restored in its lifetime, under the quillions, there is good honest dirt. Engraving ummm! really not sure, I think its a bit rough to be genuine European but then again early items are much rougher, in some cases.
Cheers for the info
Andy
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Old 22nd December 2005, 09:33 PM   #6
Jens Nordlunde
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Hi Andy,

If you are not much interested – then why ask?

Yes Ariel, you are right, these down turned quillons are normally of the older type.

Jens
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Old 23rd December 2005, 01:57 AM   #7
Jim McDougall
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Hi Andy,
You have a very interesting hybrid here, and I your observations noting the kaskara type blade and paluoar hilt similarities are well placed. I go along with Jens observation suggesting the plausibility of Sind with the hilt form.
There are interesting contrasts here in estimating possibilities for this sword, especially what appears to be a typical German trade blade possibly early to mid 19th c. of the type that characteristically entered North Africa to be mounted on kaskaras. In India, these probably came in via Arab trade in the northwest, and Sind is directly northeast of Karachi, which is of course a key port. Sind is known to have had distinct and often more apparant affinity for Persian styles in weaponry as noted in Egerton. It seems many of the shamshir type hilts on tulwars may be from regions in Sind.

What is key about this unusually mounted sword with tulwar hilt and broadsword blade is its association to the 'pattisa' *which is only vaguely described and loosely parallels the khanda. These are primarily Deccan weapons which toward the northwest were favored by Rajputs. It would seem a broadsword with this type hilt might suggest Rajput association in northwest frontier regions or even Sind further south.

*pattisa do not have the khanda hilt but an open hilt such as this and usually have a broadsword blade although with flared point.

The hilt does have certain characteristics that favor the paluoar, such as the bowl type pommel as well as slightly downward slope on the tulwar quillons. The hilt with vertical fluting is unusual, and one of the very few examples I have seen is one in Figiel (fig. 17c, PS9) which he suggests is a Persian shamshir. It has tulwar form hilt although different than this one, does have a version of this fluting. Something else significant to me is the appearance of the concentric circles motif. This is typically seen in Afghanistan on various weapons and usually in bone grips.

So here we have elements of influence from regions to the north, found on what may be a Rajput weapon from Sind, reflecting influences from the Deccan and even from the Mughal sphere far to the south in the use of brass, which is more characteristic there. Then with the use of a German trade blade more commonly found on kaskaras in Africa.
A fascinating anomaly !!!

Nicely done Andy!! I think you should seriously think about tickets to Las Vegas!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 23rd December 2005, 09:26 AM   #8
Andy Davis
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Default Interest?

Ah Jens, every edged weapon of any nationality interests me and its only now that I've tried to specialise in Indian items. Still at over 30 tulwars, I think I could claim to have an interest! Its just that I dont always expect my funds to be able to get the most spectacular...just the cheapest
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Old 23rd December 2005, 04:19 PM   #9
Jens Nordlunde
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Hi Andy,
I was surprised to see that you have over 30 tulwars, that is quite a lot, and I doubt that many, if any at all, on the forum can beat that.
Cheap or expensive weapons mostly have the same characteristics, and when you want to study the weapon as a weapon, it is these characteristics, which are of interest.

Hi Jim,
So you also took the decoration of the hilt into consideration – I should have known it. Yes it is interesting to see such a decoration on a hilt from the Sind area, but on the other hand, it may not have been there from the start, and weapons travelled a lot earlier. Foreign blades are not unusual on Indian weapons, but this one is rather unusual, but like you said, even blades without hilts travelled a long way in those days.
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Old 23rd December 2005, 07:26 PM   #10
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Let me toss out another theory to spark more discussion. Perhaps the migration is the opposite way. Instead of a German blade that one typically finds on Kaskara finding its way to India via known trade routes, why not an Indian hilt, or style of hilt, finding its way to N Africa. The circle motif is found on N African pieces, such as Berber swords. Perhaps this is a Kaskara whose owner utilized a hilt style obviously influenced by Indian hilts. We will probably not know in either case but I think one can hypothesize both scenarios.
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Old 24th December 2005, 03:05 AM   #11
Jim McDougall
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Hi Jens,
Thank you so much for the response, and I agree with what you say about the diffusion of these weapons and thier elements, especially in India. I also very much like your notation on the decorative design of the hilt, which does recall the more ancient architectural designs that reflected more primitive fashioning of grips and hilts.

Rick,
I think that is outstanding thinking, and it would seem quite plausible as we have often noted that weapons diffusion may move in either direction between points of contact. Actually it has often been distinctly curious to me that with the obvious influences of certain Indian weapons in North Africa, and elsewhere for that matter, that the very recognizable tulwar hilt, to the best of my knowledge, is not found outside the Indian subcontinent.
While various Ottoman and Persian weapons are often found in the North African regions within the Muslim sphere, it seems that even in presentation or diplomatically inclined weapons,the tulwar hilt is not to be found.
I recall one sword I saw years ago with tulwar hilt and clearly a kaskara type blade much like this example, and was identified specifically as tulwar and with Indian provenance. I have also seen patas with these European blades as seen on kaskaras, even with much earlier blades, which seem to suggest that the movement of the blades to India, somehow did not encourage the movement of these hilts to Africa.
You have a very good point about the concentric circles presence in Berber motif also. This extremely ancient symbolism seems very well known within the perameters of folk religion and shamanism, and seem to exist in only slight variation in many cultures. I am unclear on the Berber versions though, do they appear typically on hilts, or blades, or both? It seems you have mentioned this Berber motif before, but I cant exactly recall the instance.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 25th December 2005, 03:11 AM   #12
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Hi Jim,

I have had two of those Berber swords over the years with the clipped blade style and handle with hole in the middle. On one example, the handle was covered in these circle motifs and in the other example, the scabbard had been stamped with these motifs.

As far as Tulwar hilts being found in Africa, I could understand why they may not be popular as we have had countless discussions about how do you grip one, were they made for small hands, etc etc and someone not familiar with the martial style may not have found a tulwar hilt to their liking. After giving more thought, I wonder if there was much of an Indian population in N Africa in the 19th century where perhaps an Indian working/living in N Africa decided to match up a Kaskara blade to a hilt they were more familiar with. I am glad you mentioned one other example of Tulwar hilted, Kaskara blade combo because there probably are not too many examples out there so it leaves us to hypothesize.(which I love to do and think it is part of the fun of our hobby!)
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Old 25th December 2005, 06:19 AM   #13
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There was and still is a substantial Indian population along the coast of East Africa and a substantial trading colony at Aden in Yemen and at the Ethiopean port of Massawa since medievel times.
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Old 25th December 2005, 10:28 AM   #14
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I wonder why we have to guess!
In a culture that was well advanced enough to write and describe the activities of every day life, history and myth, I wonder why we have to speculate so much over "how the tulwar is held" or just why we have so much difficulty with identification.
It seems to be that we need a proper database, created only from items that do have a accutrate and tracable provinance. Likely to be through museums and the major private collections, from which we can then expand to theories on the other examples. I know im talking in an ideal world! I have European, military issue edged weapons, that nobody can identify either but the data available is far more precise.
Jens, thats exactly why I do have so many in my collection, the fact that I look for even the slightest variation and where my fasination remains. Actually its an addiction but I like to justify it.

By the way, I may have said this before. If anybody ever wants to consult my collection for serious research or general interest and finds their way to the North East of England, I'm always open to guests...with advanced warning etc
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Old 25th December 2005, 09:53 PM   #15
Jens Nordlunde
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Andy, your collection looks impressive. I can’t by far number the same amount of tulwars as you can.
Collectors are a strange lot, they may collect the same things, or within the same area, often for very different reasons, but when it comes to the bottom line, most of the interests are the same.
From where does the weapon origin, if possible within a very narrow area, how did it develop, how old is it, what does the markings mean, why was the tulwar hilt only used in India, and why the katar – these, and a lot of other, far more complicated questions, are what collectors of Indian weapons ask themselves. The list of questions is of course much longer, as you well know, but it all comes down to, that a lot of the answers are long forgotten, and we try to seek the answers. Few of us, if any at all, will likely find the answers alone, and that is why a forum like this is a good place to start exchanging information’s. Your offer is very generous, and should I come to your part of England – I will take you up on the offer - and let you know in good time.

The Indians did indeed have trade stations form the very early times at the east coast of Africa, Zanzibar, Arabia and many other places, just like the Muslims had trade stations at the west coast of India.
I am fairly sure that I have seen the round decorations on hilts from the west coast of India – on Maplah’s(?). So this decoration, like so many others ‘travelled’ around. Jim mentioned the NW frontier, where it is also seen. For some it was only decorative, but for others it had a special meaning.
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