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Old 28th September 2008, 03:35 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default The chhatri or umbrella

In Jewellery Studies, vol. 10, 2004, Robert Elgood has an interesting article. On page 82 he writes, “The Nujum al-Ulum shows forms of weapons usually given a much later Mughal origin. The manuscript states that certain signs read on a blade in its imperfections or its watered patterns are auspicious or inauspicious and determine the owner’s future. Of particular interest is the comment that the umbrella mark is extremely auspicious. The chhatri or umbrella is one of the auspicious symbols of Hindu rulers and of early Buddhism. It was believed that troubles to the cosmic order would ensue if the King/God and the Sun/God were to look upon one another and so the umbrella was transposed, just as it was considered dangerous for the King to see his own reflection in a bright sword blade. The Hindu rulers chhatri was a vital symbol of his right to rule, and the mark was inlaid on royal Mughal sword and dagger blades. There is no pre-Mughal evidence to show that Hindu rulers inlaid the umbrella symbol on their swords though it is clear that the symbol was looked for in the patterns on the blade as an auspicious mark…..”

The text above gives the impression, that ‘unofficial’ use of the umbrella must have been an offence, and offences, at that time, were severely dealt with. Long ago I read, that a general, maybe a prince, who had distinguished himself in battle was given drums, but I don’t remember to have read, that an umbrella was given to anyone. I have however, seen a blade, on which was an umbrella with three flags on top, not nicely inlaid, but fairly crudely chiselled into the blade. Could the Mughal ruler’s personal guard have the umbrella chiselled into their blades, to show that they were of some importance, and were royal guards?
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Old 28th September 2008, 08:15 PM   #2
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Hi Jens,
A most fascinating topic, that of markings on Indian blades, and this one is most important. It does seem plausible that weapons assigned to the royal bodyguards would carry that symbol as a royal insignia. I wonder since the umbrella was a widely recognized symbol of royalty and auspicious dogma, if various individuals applied different impressions of them. I have seen the ones shown in Figiel, but are there other examples with different attribution?

What might be the earliest known examples on weapons?

All the best,
Jim
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Old 28th September 2008, 08:32 PM   #3
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Yes Jim, I thought it might interest you. Elgood does not comment directly on these markings on weapons, but he does write, “The earliest umbrella mark from Jahangir’s reign (1605-1628) that has come to my notice is on a sword inscribed ‘Shah Jahangir Padshah Gazi’, dated 1027 AH/1608 AD and in addition bears the markers name ‘Abdul Rahim Mushabadi’.”

Maybe the Hindus did not use it on weapons at all – at least in the early times.
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Old 29th September 2008, 04:41 AM   #4
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Hi all,

Quite an interesting topic.

The Hindus have been using the umbrella as a royal symbol and it is also associated with religious customs since time immemorial.

However little or no account exists as to whether it was also used as an auspicious symbol on weapons belonging to Hindus.

I do no believe that it was unauspicous for kings to see their reflection in a bright sword blade; I'm open to change my opinion though because of the following known piece of history.

Shah Jahan had a noble man called Udaram Deshmukh who was known for two things:
1. His fierce valor and gallantry
2. He was very ugly.

Once Shah Jahan wanted to tease him in his court and ordered for a hand held mirror. Saw his reflection in the mirror and passed it on to his courtiers to do the same.
The mirror was passed in the ranks of the courtiers and soon everyone reliazed the emperor's plans of mocking at Udaram.
Everyones interest had peaked as to how Udaram escapes mockery or is at the receiving end of the emperor's trick.
The moment the mirror was presented in front of Udaram, he, without looking at it put the mirror upside down and unsheathed his sword, saw his face and passed the mirror on.
Everyone was dumbstuck as this was a great insult to the emperor. However before anyone could react Udaram uttered "Mirrors are for ladies to see their refelection, for men should see it in their dazzling sword blades"
The emperor was greatly pleased by the brilliant and intelligent gesture of Udaram and gifted him his personal bejewelled Katar (punch Dagger) Which till date can be seen in the personal collection of the descendants of Udaram Deshmukh.

As far as the umberella is concerned we need to dig in deeper details and research before concluding anything.

Regards,
Bhushan
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Old 29th September 2008, 12:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhushan_lawate
Hi all,

As far as the umberella is concerned we need to dig in deeper details and research before concluding anything.

Regards,
Bhushan
Hi Bhushan,

You are quite right, that a deeper research about the meaning of the umbrella has to be made. Unfortunately a big part of the knowledge is likely to be hidden in some palm leaf books, not yet translated – or do you, or someone else, have more information’s?

Interesting history about Udaram, but I doubt that anyone would have be allowed to draw his sword in the present of Shah Jahan.
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Old 1st October 2008, 12:30 AM   #6
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Probably not of much significance, but came across a reference on some ancient coins from Israel. These are bronze 'prutah' minted during the reign of Agrippa I (37-44AD), and carried the umbrella (more of a 'canopy' or parasol) on one side, and it is noted 'symbol of royalty'...the other side three ears of barley. Just thought the royal symbolism interesting, as well as the not often thought of contact in these early times between Israel and India.
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Old 1st October 2008, 01:26 AM   #7
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Shah Jahans dagger, he ruled 1628-1657, the dagger dates to 1629-1630 and has the umbrella displayed. Of interest there are two shades of gold inlay for contrast, that is not often seen of Islamic work.

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Old 2nd October 2008, 03:23 PM   #8
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Jim, it is an interesting observation you have made, and one, which belongs to this thread, the very old trade routes taken into consideration.

Rand, thank you for showing the dagger. It is true that different kinds of gold seldom were used in a weapon.

At the exhibition in Copenhagen 1982 a sword with an umbrella was shown. It had been taken from an eunuch after a battle, so it seems as if not all swords marked with umbrellas were used by royals, but from the way it looked, it must have belonged to a royal.
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Old 2nd October 2008, 05:23 PM   #9
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Thank you Jens! It seems when trying to learn more on the more esoteric properties of historic weapons whether in decoration, markings or features, the trade routes are invariably the deeper fiber of the fabric

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen,
and thinking what nobody has thought"
-Albert von Szent-Gyorgy
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Old 6th October 2008, 12:11 AM   #10
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Default Umbrella & metaphor attributing to a shah

This dagger with umbbrella is exhibited in "Splendeurs des Arns Orientales", page 93 and dates 1620-1630. In its description it is labeled as having a gold imperial umbrella mark.

Of interest it further states that it is inscribed "Sahibqiran-i Thani", which tells us it belonged to Shah Jahan, who known throughout his life as "Second Lord of the Conjunction", the first having been his forebearer.

Is interesting that this is an example of a metaphor being using to determine ownership, as particularly farsi was spoken more as poem the use of metaphors was commen and a compilation of these would become most useful to someone looking for clues for ownership. Mention farsi because of its use in the Mughal court.

Unfortunately there is no reference for why the umbrella is an imperial mark.

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Old 6th October 2008, 12:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Hi Bhushan,

You are quite right, that a deeper research about the meaning of the umbrella has to be made. Unfortunately a big part of the knowledge is likely to be hidden in some palm leaf books, not yet translated – or do you, or someone else, have more information’s?

Interesting history about Udaram, but I doubt that anyone would have be allowed to draw his sword in the present of Shah Jahan.


Hi Jens,

The Ngadju dayak culture in south Borneo got also influence from the Hindus.
The umbrella (payong) plays an important role in all rituall there
The umbrella is indentical with the tree of life.
Maybe because of his protectional task ( I don't know for sure why)
But the tree of life is also often presented as a spear.
If we seen that in one line it looks like there's a connection between the umbrella-tree of life-weaponery.

Maybe because the weapons brings death while the tree of life is the source of new life ? ( in a headhunting culture the death is the start of a new life)

I realize that these cultures are far away from eachother but maybe it helps to find answers about the use of the umbrella on swordblades.


I'm interested about the use of the "eye motif" on swords from India.
Is this because of the " evel eye believe?"



friendly regards,

Arjan.
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Old 6th October 2008, 01:19 PM   #12
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The eye motif is common on the sacrificial swords, and it represents the godess Durga, presiding over the sacrifices.
Regards

Gonzalo
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Old 6th October 2008, 01:31 PM   #13
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Hi Rand,

Interesting knife you show, an umbrella looking like this, is also on the kard made of meteoric iron – if I am not mistaken. Weapons with the umbrella mark are, I think, mostly thought of being used only by the royals. I have however seen a sword, which could have belonged at a royal, but to which was attached a metal label, stating, “Taken from a eunuch of the king of Oudh at the capture of the Imambara [March 14th 1858], by Col. Annesley, COMDG. 10th Regt.”

So it seems as if others than the royals could use these weapons, or maybe the eunuch was a lifeguard, and that was the reason why he fought with a sword marked with an umbrella.

Hi Arjan,

Thank you for joining. In the very early days the Hindu’s had colonies on many of the islands in the area; they are even said to have had a colony in China, so there must have been a strong Hindu influence. It is interesting what you write about the connection between the umbrella and the tree of life, as it is the first time I have heard this. I have earlier read about a connection between the tree of life end the kundalini flame, but only in one or two places. The mid rib on katars is sometimes made like a slim tree, mostly said to be cypress, but I have also seen it described like the tree of life.

Where did you find the connection between the umbrella and the tree of life?

Yes I think the ‘eye motif’, was used for protection against ‘the evil eye’.

Jens
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Old 6th October 2008, 02:12 PM   #14
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Jens, are there many non sacrificial swords with the eye inscription?

I think there are more deep and complex meanings on the imagery used over the war weapons. You can find a very interesting discussion related to the subject of the eye inscription over the blades of the swords in this thread:

http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=79432

Also, there are references to bibliographical analysis in relation to this subject.
Regards

Gonzalo
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Old 6th October 2008, 02:21 PM   #15
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Hi Arjan,

Thank you for joining. In the very early days the Hindu’s had colonies on many of the islands in the area; they are even said to have had a colony in China, so there must have been a strong Hindu influence. It is interesting what you write about the connection between the umbrella and the tree of life, as it is the first time I have heard this. I have earlier read about a connection between the tree of life end the kundalini flame, but only in one or two places. The mid rib on katars is sometimes made like a slim tree, mostly said to be cypress, but I have also seen it described like the tree of life.

Where did you find the connection between the umbrella and the tree of life?

Yes I think the ‘eye motif’, was used for protection against ‘the evil eye’.

Jens[/QUOTE]


Hi Jens,

The connection between umbrella and tree of life is often mentioned in " Ngaju Religion- the conception of god among a South Borneo People" by Dr,H.Scharer -The Hague 1963

he writes:-"The umbrella is indentical with the tree of life.Its not only to be found here but plays important role in every transition ceremony ( when passing from one to another status) A baby is carried under an umbrella for its ritual bath in the river,an umbrella is opened above a bridal pair,a skull is placed under an umbrella on the skull rack and also the umbrella palys a very important role at a funeral and at the mortuary ceremony.-" pag 70.

The use of the umbrella is part of a complex mix of symbols used to represent the upperworld and underworld.

Arjan.
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Old 6th October 2008, 03:25 PM   #16
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Gonezalo, good post, and I agree that it is, at best, a very complex subject to discus.

The link you give is a good one, and it makes me wonder why/how such a connection started and was kept, between Nepal and Bengal – far apart, but still very close, which is most interesting.

I don’t believe that all koras with the ‘eye’ were used for sacrifice, but my knowledge on kores is not very big, so I better not start a discussion on this subject. However the ‘eye’ was used in several other ways, on stupas, on boats and so, so I believe that it was used fairly widely, and maybe had more than one meaning.

Arjan, thank you for the title and the quote. It is, like I said, the first time I have seen the umbrella and the tree of life connected, but if they are connected, like the author says, this gives the subject a new dimension. Besides, I think the knowledge most of us have on this subject lacks a lot of knowledge and understanding – which is hard to find/get, unless you look very hard for it.

Jens
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Old 6th October 2008, 03:47 PM   #17
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Hi !

Standard Marks of Royalty were the Chattar or the Umbrella, Chanwar or the Yaks Tail fly wisk, Nishan or the standards and Banners, Nagara or the Royal Drums.

I think one would be correct in presuming that pieces with the Umbrella or Chattar are royal pieces (provided they are old of course as imitations are not infrequent).

Just my two bits...
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Old 6th October 2008, 05:19 PM   #18
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Hi Karni, nice to hear from you. Yes you are right, of course, but a thing like drums were given to people other than to royalty, generals and other high members of the community. The fact that a eunuch in a battle used a very high quality sword, with an umbrella mark,, does not mean he was royal, he may have been a body guard.

Jens
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Old 7th October 2008, 07:24 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
The link you give is a good one, and it makes me wonder why/how such a connection started and was kept, between Nepal and Bengal – far apart, but still very close, which is most interesting.

I don’t believe that all koras with the ‘eye’ were used for sacrifice, but my knowledge on kores is not very big, so I better not start a discussion on this subject. However the ‘eye’ was used in several other ways, on stupas, on boats and so, so I believe that it was used fairly widely, and maybe had more than one meaning.


Jens, I just only wanted to explore one line of connection and explanation among the use of the eye, and it´s relation with hinduism. This, in response on the last two lines in black in the post from Mandaukudi. I would not point for certain, a relation among Bengal and Nepal, and neither about the sacrificial meaning of the eye over every sword blade. There are other lines to explore, but I´m afraid that many sources are written in oriental languajes.
Regards

Gonzalo
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Old 9th October 2008, 01:39 AM   #20
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Default Chhatri listed as showing it was in royal arsenal

Page 101, number 60 in <"The Art of the Mamluks", by Bashir Mohamed. The parosol/umbrella is said to mean to having been stored in royal armory.
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Old 9th October 2008, 03:04 PM   #21
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Gonzalo, the ’eye’ can be found in many cultures, and it seems as if it can have different meanings. Some of the meanings are, no doubt, long lost, but the tradition still live.

Rand, you are right, the general idea is, that the umbrella was used on the ruler’s private weapons, and maybe on the weapons of his lifeguard. I have however seen an umbrella crudely chiselled into a blade. No gold on the blade, only the chiselling, and it did not give you a feeling of royalty – otherwise the sword could have belonged to a ruler, had it not been for the chiselling.
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Old 10th October 2008, 03:55 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Hi Karni, nice to hear from you. Yes you are right, of course, but a thing like drums were given to people other than to royalty, generals and other high members of the community. The fact that a eunuch in a battle used a very high quality sword, with an umbrella mark,, does not mean he was royal, he may have been a body guard.

Jens


Hi Jens,

Weapons change hands all the time. There is an old saying "A weapon has no Masters...only the person wielding it!!". Just because the Eunuch was found with the weapon does not make him the original owner of the weapon. Captured Royal weapons of enemies may have been given to Eunuchs as a sign of disdain or contempt or to insult the vanquished in court. Also many Eunuchs were body guards specially of the Royal ladies and they may have had the right to use of royal weapons/arsenal. So it is difficult to say.

Best regards,

Karni
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Old 20th October 2008, 11:19 AM   #23
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[font=&quot]Egerton p. 125 writes about the Codrington Collection and mentions some of the things, and at one point he writes, ”Ch’hata. Red cotton velvet parasol, embroidered with gold. Mysore 1850. This is only permitted to be worn by such persons as have been presented with it by their prince”.[/font]
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Old 2nd February 2019, 08:22 PM   #24
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Hi Mytribalworld,
Have you found out something about the eye since last - about ten years!
I think it is interesting, as several peoples have used the eye, so it is/was known world wide. But the meaning could have been quite different. It is, none the less, very interesting.
I do hope you will write again, as your findings will be very interesting to us.



As to the umbrella. I have two, one is very elegant inlaid in gold, and the other one is quite crude. My judgement is that the first one is from the Mughal time, and the other one is from the time after Aurangzeb, as it is quite crude and not gold inlaid. It seems as if after Aurangzeb, the parolsol was used by anyone who would like to be pompous, but not royal.
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Old 2nd February 2019, 09:57 PM   #25
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Amazing! Jens, thank you for bringing back this thread!!!!
What a perfect background for the questions at hand of late and now we can use this background to add to! Thank you so much
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Old 3rd February 2019, 03:20 AM   #26
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Elgood dedicated quite a lot of space to the ch’hatris in his Jodhpur book. Interestingly, he describes quite a lot of them as incorrect, implying their spurious nature.

My guess that just as with the cartouches with Shah Abbas’ name and signatures of Assadullah there was a brisk production and trade in fake ch’hatris. People are only human, and are ready to forge anything ( banknotes, passports, paintings etc) for a profit. Risks be damned!
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Old 3rd February 2019, 01:00 PM   #27
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Here are two examples.
One while the umbrella still was royal - in gold on a katar, and the other one on a tulwar.
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Old 3rd February 2019, 01:53 PM   #28
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Default Katar Cross hatching & inlay

The umbrella applied with a cross hatching technique, either a gold wire or a gold sheet appliqué. The dots and triangular marks appear to be a form of punch inlay.

The umbrella gold overlay looks fairly thick, and in some places it seems to follow the wootz pattern. Is that true?

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Old 3rd February 2019, 02:16 PM   #29
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Hi Rand,
Nice to hear from you:-).
The layer of gold is quite thick, but I am not sure I understand what you mean when you write, 'it seems to follow the wootz pattern'.
Catalogue pp. 145-146.
The other one is catalogue pp. 331-333.
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Old 4th February 2019, 01:59 PM   #30
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Default Follow the wootz pattern

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Hi Rand,
Nice to hear from you:-).
The layer of gold is quite thick, but I am not sure I understand what you mean when you write, 'it seems to follow the wootz pattern'.
Catalogue pp. 145-146.
The other one is catalogue pp. 331-333.


Hey Jens,

When you look at the wootz pattern of the blade, you see dark and light (black & silver) colors and lines. The black lines being similar to the cartography of a map showing the different levels of elevation. On the golden umbrella, you can also see darker lines that are mostly vertical. On the top right of the umbrella, there are some that are at and angle. Compare the dark lines of the blade to the dark lines of the umbrella. What is most obvious is the slanting top right lines that lines up perfectly on the gold and steel areas.

The camera collects data, that is light reflecting off the surface of the katars blade. My theory: In this example, there are slight variences in the wootz surface height from etching. And that when reflected off the gold surface, then give darker and lighter shades of gold, because of varying angled degrees of light bouncing back to the camera .

If this is true, it adds another dimension to wootz steel. This is where an opinion from a metallurgist that has study'd wootz would help.

"The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public."

George Jessel

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