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Old 28th April 2016, 02:56 AM   #1
ariel
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Default Deccani handles?

I was sitting quietly, nursing a glass of Slivovitz, not bothering any one and re-reading Elgood's chapter on Deccani swords.
He bemoans the scarcity of attributable examples and even starts his chapter head-on with the statement that weapons from Deccan are usually attributed kind of by exclusion: neither Vijayanagara, nor Mughal.

And then a thought hit me ( Slivovitz likely played a role): what if this statement could be turned upside down: both Vijayanagara AND Mughal?

I looked at my examples.

The development of "Indian" sword handles stemmed from the Old Indian handle from the South and the Mughal handle from the North. What would we expect to see in the middle, where these traditions bumped into each other, i.e. in Deccan?

The first picture shows:

On the left:

1.Old South Indian handle See the bilateral wing-like handguard.
2. Later development of it, the Basket Hilt, preserving the old pattern of wing-like handguard but with the European-influenced wide D-guard and a stem arising from the pommel for a two-handed grip.

On the right:

Two classical Mughal handles with quillons ending in button-like terminals.

In the middle:

Two tulwars with handles combining features of both: wing-like handguards and wide D-guard of the Vijayanagara tradition ( the left one) AND the typical Mughal quillons.

The second pic shows them from the side: they could have either one or two "wings"
The third pic shows the width of the D-guard: left to right Basket Vijayanagara Firangi, presumed "Deccani", classical Mughal tulwar

Interestingly, Elgood shows a Deccani Tegha with exactly the same handle and even mentions the crooked stem arising from the pommel, asserting that it is a feature of the 17th century ( see the left of the "mixed pattern" ones in Picture 1.

So, here is my question: is it reasonable to assume that the "mixed pattern"
handles are specifically Deccani in their origin?
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Last edited by ariel : 29th April 2016 at 01:16 AM. Reason: adding a pic
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Old 29th April 2016, 06:20 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Ariel, this is an intriguing ponderance! and I visualize you in a winged tufted leather easy chair, wearing a smoking jacket with your snifter of cognac in one hand and trusty 'Elgood in the other.

Actually I think you are pretty much on target, and its always fascinating when we get these 'in between' transitional cases. The Deccani classification as you know is an extremely broad conundrum in analysis of hilt forms, and Elgood notes it is particularly difficult to attribute them with certainty to specific states.
However it would seem most likely that these 'middle' swords with the Mughal type hilts retaining the 'winged' feature of the Hindu khanda would have been from Deccani regions.
The Hindu's were of course reluctant to relinquish certain features of their traditional swords' hilts as these often were key to apotropaic imbuement as well as religious symbolism.
As the Mughal Sultanates took over, many of the Vijayanagara types of hilts were likely amalgamated with the Mughal forms as these weapons filtered through the Bijapur regions.
I think the 'tegha' you mention from the Elgood article was listed as 17th c. so it would seem this time frame may well suit these unusual hybrids.

Well that's my take, think I'll grab a long neck!!!
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Old 29th April 2016, 10:39 AM   #3
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Jim,

Smoking jackets, winged chairs and cognac are for sissies: tee shirt, plastic stool on the deck and 120 proof Hungarian Slivovitz my son brought me from Budapest is more like it:-)

But on a more serious note: I am glad you agree: perhaps we can add Deccani handles to the Udaipuri ones ( as per Jonathan Barrett) to the frustratingly short list of Indian handles with definitive provenance.

Perhaps I should write a paper :-))))

To celebrate this momentous insight your next longneck shouds be India Pale Ale. Bottoms up, man:-)

Last edited by ariel : 29th April 2016 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 29th April 2016, 02:19 PM   #4
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Ariel:

When looking at hybrid examples, I am always of two minds. Does this represent temporal hybridism or geographical hybridism? In other words, are we looking at a transition between two forms that occurred over time (i.e., temporal evolution within a specific region), or, as you suggest, the mixing of two different styles in an intervening region?

Without provenance of specific pieces, I don't think one can distinguish between these two possibilities.

Ian.
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Old 29th April 2016, 02:46 PM   #5
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Ariel, there are a few things, which should be taken into consideration when comparing these hilts. The different parts is India were influenced from different parts of the outside World - but from where?

During the Deccan Sultanates there was a heavy influence from Turkey, while the Mughals were influenced from Persia, and I dont think these two areas changed their fashion, in this case the looks of the hilts, with the same speed.
It is likely that Deccan was more conservative when it came to changes. But diring wars and trade different hilt types did 'travel' over very big distances, and this could also have been part of the change of fashion.

The hilt (no 4 from left) you show in the first picture is interesting.
Have a look at the way the hand guard ends, no animal head and no flower bud - it just ends, which is quite unusual, although it has been seen before. This could be a Deccani hilt, but the strange thing is, that I have a hilt where the hand guard ends in the same way, and I am convinced that my hilt is Mughal, wwith a very fine gold inlay of the decoration.
One could ask if this way of ending the hand guard is Deccani or is it Mughal. I dont know, and I have not yet researched these hilts, but as they are not so common I find it, untill I have learned some more about them, likely that they come from the area.
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Old 29th April 2016, 05:02 PM   #6
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Jens,
I see now what you meant in your PM.

But I do not see a particular problem here as related to the "mix".
The winglike guard and the wide D-guard are unquestionably inspired by Vijayanagara; the general configuration of the hilt and the quillons are unquestionably are just Mughal. The ending of the D-guard might have been a newly-formed Deccani or a purely Mughal feature.

No matter how many additional "Southern" or "Northern" features we find, the very idea of the "mix" remains intact.


Ian,
I also do not see much difference between the temporal and geographical transitions: of course they occured together. Any external influence penetrates a particular geographical region gradually. From there the hybrid product may even spread elsewhere (and be further modified there) , but it will also take time. Thus, both transitions occur in unison and often in waves.

In a way, it may be similar to the relative syncretism of Islam/Hinduism in Deccan.


Overall, my point is that this particular hilt pattern combines both Vijayanagara and Mughal elements, i.e. the postulated mixed form that would be expected in Deccan, at a point of clash between the two traditions.

Of course, actual, attributable examples of Deccani weapons with such hilt are needed to substantiate the hypothesis. In this regard Elgood's Tegha may serve as one example. Are there others?
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Old 29th April 2016, 05:08 PM   #7
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Yes there was a 'mix', especially after the Mughals had taken DEccan and posted soldiers and rulers to represent them, but I think the 'development' went slower in Deccan than in other parts of India - although I can prove this yet.
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Old 29th April 2016, 05:31 PM   #8
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I seem to see your point: military victors imposing their weapons on the vanquished. Fully agree: that would be the expected chain of events everywhere.

But it is rather difficult to obliterate the local traditions and fully replace them with distinctly foreign elements ( see Jim's post above). The Hindu elements would still stubbornly survive the attempt.. So, the two were subsumed.
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Old 29th April 2016, 06:06 PM   #9
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To my opinion the two cultures were 'fighting' each other. Dont forget that the Hindus had their deities, theit gods and their superstition, and the Muslims, although Musilms, were fighting each other.
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Old 30th April 2016, 12:24 AM   #10
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Jens,
I am not trying to be stubborn, but I was asking just about the "mix" handles: are they, in your opinion of plausible Deccani origin or not?

If you think I am wrong, just say so: I am not invested in this hypothesis and do not plan to make a publication out of it. This was just an amuzing thought on a lazy evening:-) I just wanted to ran it by some friends who know more about Indian arms than I do.
Sock it to me, Bro! :-)))))
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Old 30th April 2016, 01:20 AM   #11
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So...Ariel......you discover the phenomenon of hybridization after some 'Slivovitz' ? Not sure what this stuff is, nor, more important ..how much you had....but, .uh, I'm in Texas, and its Lone Star not that ale you mentioned for me.

I try not to indulge in alcohol and sword studies.......at least not since the Drambuie, tulwar......and ceiling fan!!

Now that you have piqued our interest........no paper? so I guess the movie is out if the question.

What is remarkable is that out of this Slivovitz addled query.......some brilliant observations by Jens and Ian seem more than worthy of serious consideration.
As Ian has noted, hybridization is far more complex than simple categorization to period or region. Also as Jens has pointed out, and as you agree, development and transition is typically subtle and gradual.

As I have learned, mostly from Jens, the definition of Deccani or the Deccan itself is actually more complex than can be explained readily, and as in Ian's observation, the factors being considered take that even further.

As always, these discussions are not about being right or wrong, nor I would hope, not debates, just fact finding missions or sharing of ideas.

It would seem that your idea of probable Deccani provenance is quite plausible, but as with most Indian arms, there remains the possibility of other provenance with the constant diffusion of weapons.

By 'the numbers' and Occams Razor, my feeling is they probably are Deccani. As to finite region in that rather broad spectrum, the jury is still out!
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Old 30th April 2016, 01:22 PM   #12
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Ariel,
The mixed hilts are possible from Deccan.
There are two reasons why I wont say it 100%. First I would like to have it in my hand, and secondly you should read what Robert writes in the Jaipur book page 128-129. He writes 'possible Kotah or Bundi', and further 'The design points to the hilt being Deccani, from the seventeenth-century, but it appears to draw on that style rather than being part of it.'
For all I know, the sword Robert shows could be Deccani, captured /bought and taken to Rajasthan, and used there till it ended up in the Jaipur armoury.

Jim,
I think you are doing quite well when judging the Indian weapons .

Jens
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Old 30th April 2016, 01:33 PM   #13
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Jim,

Allow me to lift a veil of ignorance from your Texan eyes.

Slivovitz is a Central European plum brandy.

Realistically, they make brandy out of every fruit possible: plums ( Polish, Czech, Balkan Slivovitz), pears ( Hungarian Palinka), cherries ( German and Swiss Kirshwasser), apples (French Calvados), you name it.

Come to think of it, they also use grape skins and pips to make grape Brandy: French Marc, Italian Grappa, Balkan Loza, Balkan Rakija, Georgian Chacha and even Peruvian/Chilean Pisco.
These are all simple peasant drinks: aristocracy took the choiciest part of the grape, ie the juice, fermented it, ran it thru sophisticated distilling apparati, aged it in special barrels and sipped it slowly. Peasants took all that grape residue, or just cheap and plentiful fruits, mashed it, made a moonshine and gulped it like real men:-))

As you can see, the infamous "name game" is played not only by weapon collectors, but by us, old sots, too:-)

I fully appreciate Ian's and Jens' comments. I am just having a gut feeling that I might be right.

What is sorely missing, is a solid list of true Deccani examples with such handles.

Elgood has one.

Does anybody here knows of other examples: provenance would be crucially important.

Who knows, we may even make a Bollywood movie out of it, " The Adoni Conspiracy", with Danny de Vito playing Aurangzeb, Nicole Kidman as Queen Victoria, and late Rudolf Nureev as Alexander Borgia :-)

Last edited by ariel : 30th April 2016 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 30th April 2016, 01:43 PM   #14
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Jens,
Thanks! Glad you also have the same gut feeling.Getting better proof is another thing altogether.

If you or any other Forumite happen to recall other examples of such hilts on proven Deccani swords, please let me know.
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Old 30th April 2016, 09:12 PM   #15
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Ariel,
You must remember that tons of weapons were taken in Deccan after all the battles and moved to Rajasthan.
Why leave weapons on the battle field that the enemies can use against you at a later time?
Very few of these weapons are registrated as comming from the Deccan. The only ones I am aware of, are the ones in the Bikaner armoury, and only some of them are marked as comming from Deccan.
This gives us another head ache, and that is are all the chiselled weapons from the Deccan, or are they north Indian?
If you read Goetz, you will see, that all the gold and silver decoration came slowly in the north, for a long time chiselling was prefered, by others than the Mughals.
Chiselling was used a lot in the south, but are all the chiselled weapons in the Bikaner armoury from the south?
Would you be able to point out the ones from Deccan?
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Old 30th April 2016, 10:26 PM   #16
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Jens,
Yes, it is a conundrum...

If we cannot identify actual examples from Deccan, is it possible at least to talk about " Deccani pattern"?

Or, do you think even that is hopeless?

You know, I never thought much about Deccan: for me martial culture of India was either North or South. The entire center of the country was a blur, a white spot.

Just to think that we cannot pinpoint anything specific about it, is rather depressing. Dhup? Sossun Pata? Tegha? Are even they Deccani in origin?
Kind of tragic for the martial culture of almost half of the entire India to disappear without a trace.....

When Elgood can write a whole book about Vijayanagara, two volumes about a single Northern museum but only a short and tentative paper about the entire Deccan, it means we lost a giant chunk of human history....
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Old 1st May 2016, 10:44 AM   #17
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Ariel,

Some types can be pin-pointed to Deccan, while other types will get the stamp - maybe/could be/perhaps/possible and so on.
An example could be a Deccani miniature. You see one of the Deccani Sultans and two or three other persons. We know who the Sultan is, but the names of the others are seldom given, so are ther employd at the court, or are they visitors? If they are visitors, maybe from Rajasthan their weapons are not from Deccan, but you can get the feeling that when they are shown in a Deccani miniature it must be Deccani weapons. They could be Deccani weapons, but they dont have to be.
In the very early times, the kukri and the kora were widely spread over big parts of India, but this did not last, at least not in most places.

There is, however, some hope ahead as many objects of art from Deccan have been researched far more than the weapons, and that is where we should look for some of the answers - books like.
Mohamed, Bashir: The Arts of the Muslim Knight
Stronge, Susan: Bidri Ware
Zebrowski, Mark: Deccan Painting
and others.
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Old 18th November 2017, 04:41 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Ariel, there are a few things, which should be taken into consideration when comparing these hilts. The different parts is India were influenced from different parts of the outside World - but from where?

During the Deccan Sultanates there was a heavy influence from Turkey, while the Mughals were influenced from Persia, and I dont think these two areas changed their fashion, in this case the looks of the hilts, with the same speed.
It is likely that Deccan was more conservative when it came to changes. But diring wars and trade different hilt types did 'travel' over very big distances, and this could also have been part of the change of fashion.

The hilt (no 4 from left) you show in the first picture is interesting.
Have a look at the way the hand guard ends, no animal head and no flower bud - it just ends, which is quite unusual, although it has been seen before. This could be a Deccani hilt, but the strange thing is, that I have a hilt where the hand guard ends in the same way, and I am convinced that my hilt is Mughal, wwith a very fine gold inlay of the decoration.
One could ask if this way of ending the hand guard is Deccani or is it Mughal. I dont know, and I have not yet researched these hilts, but as they are not so common I find it, untill I have learned some more about them, likely that they come from the area.


A hilt with a guard similar to your from the Prince of Wales Museum in Bombay.
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Old 19th November 2017, 10:36 AM   #19
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Hi Kikhari,

Yes you are right. Do you know wat the text says to the hilt you shows?
Mine is Mughal 17th century.
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Old 19th November 2017, 03:56 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Hi Kikhari,

Yes you are right. Do you know wat the text says to the hilt you shows?
Mine is Mughal 17th century.


It is a Quranic text starting with the word Bismillah.
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Old 19th November 2017, 04:13 PM   #21
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Likhari,
Thank you, and I am sorry I spelled your name wrongly.
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