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Old 1st January 2008, 01:15 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default Talwar Sirohi

In one of his books Th. H. Hendley mentions a sword, which he called Talwar Sirohi. I did not know if he referred to the hilt, the blade or the talwar as a whole, but in the book Memorials of the Jaypore Exhibition, 1883, he gives the explanation on page 1.

“Rajputana, Rajasthan, or the land of the Rajputs, the sons of kings, should produce, and does produce, everything necessary for carrying on the art of war. Sirohi [southern Rajasthan], the small state in which is stated Mount Abu, the Mons Capitalium of Pliny, had been famed since the days of Herodotus [5th century BC] for its sword blades, and at the Jeypore Exhibition it retained its ancient reputation by carrying off the first prize for arms. This small state of the Deora Rajpurs supplies blades and spear points to all Rajputana, but every court employs its own armourers, some of whom have attained fame beyond their homes.”

At the time of Hendley there were many Princely states, some small some big, the names of some of these states are long forgotten, or not known to collectors. The names can be found in old books, on Google or in books like coin catalogues, so, a collectors library should not be limited to books on the weapons collected, but to a wider spectrum of books.
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Old 1st January 2008, 05:33 PM   #2
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I think Jens has posted a most interesting topic, and very well made point on the importance of ancillary resources to find important clues and information on the study of weapons outside the standard references. As has been noted, there are many of these princely states which were established, maintained and amalgamated into others throughout the history of India. Naturally as we examine weapons and find inscriptions, abbreviations and various other references marked on them, a good base referencing these would be essential, if not key, in hopefully determining region and period for the weapons.
This has been of course, one of the main themes over the years in trying to catalog the marks and characteristic inscriptions denoting the armouries of many of these defined states.

I think one of the most important factors in Hendley's writing is that he was keenly interested in establishing regional attribution for the material culture produced in India, including of course weapons. To me this represents a turning point in British perception of Indian weaponry with regard to it as an element of art rather than a typologically catalogued tool of war. Egerton in 1880 beautifully illustrated and catalogued these weapons, however there was little attention given to regional attribution or characteristic style. The only possible clues were donors, dates and regions given in the captioning, which may be regarded in a specious sense as these had often been obtained from elsewhere by the original recipient.

It seems that the 'Sirohi' appellation in describing the tulwar noted, was probably a designation of the place of manufacture of the specific example used in that sense rather than indicating a style or form. It seems that I have seen the term used I think in Rawson, but cannot say it applied to a form of weapon, the reference is not handy.
While Rawson, as noted in earlier discussions, placed emphasis on typology of blade forms, the later work by Pant focused on hilt forms. I do not seem to recall the term 'sirohi' applied to any of the hilt types. Perhaps closer review of these resources might reveal more.

Rajasthan appears to have been in general, the 'Birmingham' of India from ancient times even until the present day. The production of the components of weapons from the many regions of Rajasthan and sent to so many other regions of India severely confounds much of the effort to attribute with any accuracy, so many of the tulwars of India, particularly in the 19th century. I think our best hope is to rely as much as possible on the earliest provenanced examples from established regions which might suggest certain pecularities which might have indicated specific preferences.

The recent interest evidenced in the great examples of tulwars that have been posted recently, as well as of course many other Indian weapons, is most inspiring. I think we have made outstanding progress here with our forum as a group in studying these weapons comprehensively and in more and more detail.
Perhaps this is the year for outstanding breakthroughs in the serious study of the weapons of India!!! Robert Elgood has set the pace with his magnificent contribution "Hindu Arms & Ritual".......lets continue!!!

All best regards, and again HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!!!
Jim
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Old 1st January 2008, 08:43 PM   #3
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Have a look at the attached katar, I have always thought it was north Deccan, but maybe I have been wrong – you will see the reason for the ‘maybe’ when you look at the coin.

The coin – front and backside – is from Nawanagar (gar means fort) located on the Kathiswar peninsula, west-central India, in Kutch. The coin is a 3 Dakda (whatever that is) and dated 1928 VS – 1871 AD. The katar is not used as a mintmark, but as an emblem (a mark of the state), which, of course, is far more powerful than a mintmark.

Bruce II, Colin R, and others: The Standard guide to South Asian Coins and Paper Money Since 1556 AD. Krause Publications, USA

Far too late I realised what a big help such a catalogue can be, and now I have itJ. A lot of the Indian states mentioned, are states, of which I have newer heard anything, they also write where the state is located, and a very short history, so you get a rough idea about the set up when they minted the coins.
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Old 2nd January 2008, 04:16 AM   #4
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Excellent example Jens!
As I recall, the item in Egerton (p.137) describing the Kattees of Gujerat (in Kathiawar) where the mark of the katar was revered and considered the seal of an oath or agreement. Its significance is noted in that signatures in these matters often included the mark of the katar. It would seem that that same mark would be included on legal tender, thus the image of this distinct form with flayed ends on the guard bars suggests probable provenance.

Thank you posting this beautiful katar along with the coin.

All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 2nd January 2008, 12:16 PM   #5
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It should be noted, that although most of the place where the coins were used, also minted the coins – but it was not always so. This means that to go after the mintmark could be misleading, whereas an emblem was used by the state where the coins were used.

The following states used a katar as an emblem on all, or some of the coins. Bundi, Kutch, Nawanagar and Ratlam.

The following states used a katar as a mintmark for all or some of the coins. Shahjehanabad (minted in Agra), Bharatpur, Bindraban, Nabha, Marwar, Jodhpur (minted in Sujat) and Karauli.

There could be a few more, but this should give someone interested something to work on.
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Old 2nd January 2008, 04:09 PM   #6
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Very good point Jens. Much like the weapons being produced in varying locations , the locations of actual minting were not necessarily the location where the product was used. Thank you for noting the coins using the katar as a mark....reminds me of the great photos of Nepalese coins with kukris on them that Spiral shared in a previous thread.

BTW, the shape of this katar hilt looks very much like the 'garsoe' katar in Egerton (#727 I think).

All the best,
Jim
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Old 2nd January 2008, 04:34 PM   #7
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Brilliant inspiring and insightful thread, thank you
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Old 3rd January 2008, 03:09 AM   #8
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Thank you so much for those very kind words Sikh Soldier! Jens has indeed done so much in comprehensively acquiring, studying and advancing the study of the most important weapons of India. This he constantly illustrates with the fantastic pieces he shares, and as seen here, with the topics he selects.

All very best regards,
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Old 3rd January 2008, 12:32 PM   #9
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In Indian Arms and Armour, vol. II, G. N. Pant, pages 79 and 80.

Sirohi or Serye.
The name is derived form a village Sirohi in Rajasthan where the swords are even made today. The blade is slightly curved and is of a very hard temper. It was in great favour with the Rajputs. Egerton says, “the chief favourite of all the various kinds (of swords) found in Rajputana is the Sirohi, a slightly curved blade shaped like that of Damascus. …….



Pant also, in a note, writes that they, at Wallace Collection have two swords #1440 and 1446, which in the catalogue are named as being Sirohi, but although he mentions that he has never seen the swords, he writes that they ‘are certainly not Sirohi’.
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