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francantolin 6th June 2021 07:06 PM

an Afghan pulwar sword -translation if possible...
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Hello gentlemen,

I received this large pulwar sword,
I trade this sword with other stuff,
it wasn't inexpensive but I think it's a good piece.

The hilt is finely crafted and
the blade seems made of good quality
there is on one side an interesting
arabic script inlay ( gold )( maybe it's afghan not classical Arabic ).

sadly the wooden parts of the scabbard are worser than I thought,
the large tip mount is interesting too ( really rusty,
I clean it a little... )

francantolin 6th June 2021 07:19 PM

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There are two eye lash marks
and on the other side an interesting stamp at the basis of the blade
( cf picture )

For me it's an indian blade with this mark
but for the seller it comes from Persia...

Does anybody know were this arsenal (?) ''stamps'' mark come from ?

Any Idea about age ??

Difficult to me to give a date, ( so maybe the translation will help :) )...
The blade seems ''recent'' because it's really in nice conditions

but the scabbard was on the opposite, poor conditions ( maybe just stored in a wet place for a long time...)
and the well crafted hilt seems older...

Maybe beginning of 20th century ?

What do you think ?
Kind regards

Jim McDougall 6th June 2021 09:02 PM

Nicely crafted but quite modern version of the well known Afghan sword mostly of late 18th into 19th c. termed 'paluoar' a term which is indeed of Persian etymology.
The 'eyelash' or 'sickle' marks (twin dentated arcs) are a well known mark which apparently began centuries ago in North Italy (mostly Genoa) but were copied in Styria (Austria) and the Caucusus later.
They were regarded as 'quality' or 'magic' imbuements on trade blades used in many native contexts, but in these northern regions of India, it seems they were consistently used on these Afghan swords.

Actually these interpretations on this example are not near the original form typically seen, but are faithfully applied in this interpretation of the sword type.

The deeply stamped cartouche at the forte near the langet is placed also faithfully in the manner of many North Indian tulwar blades in which there are often inscriptions or symbols usually in Urdu, but as far as known, are not arsenal or makers marks.

I cannot help with the translation, but look forward to what it says.

francantolin 11th June 2021 06:16 PM

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Thank you Jim for the comments about pulwars swords,
so a modern blade for you ?

I waited before my reply but not a lot of success with the translation...

I'll try with a few more pics:
the engraving and rests of gold in the eyelash
and a gold or copper mark on the hilt ( under the rust )
( only one side...) : something like an X or a double greek epsilon in capital letters...

Kubur 11th June 2021 07:13 PM

Hi my friend

I disagree with Jim, this is not modern.
It is a very nice Afghan pulwar.
The blade is old and scabbard too (19th).
I have to admit that the hilt is a bit weird, maybe it is the reason why Jim wrote that.
I have a pulwar with the same kind of blade, but without the inscription... damnit!
One forum member is an expert and wrote a book about Afghan weapons, I have to find the book...


Jim McDougall 11th June 2021 08:48 PM

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Originally Posted by Kubur (Post 263421)
Hi my friend

I disagree with Jim, this is not modern.
It is a very nice Afghan pulwar.
The blade is old and scabbard too (19th).
I have to admit that the hilt is a bit weird, maybe it is the reason why Jim wrote that.
I have a pulwar with the same kind of blade, but without the inscription... damnit!
One forum member is an expert and wrote a book about Afghan weapons, I have to find the book...


I think I best qualify what I mean, 'modern' suggests perhaps end of 19th c.
The hilt is indeed unusual with the quillons being this close in, a characteristic which in many ways reminds me of Arab sabers with these narrow quillons.
The paluoar was used into the 19th century, residually, and they became less often present, so a later made version may well have been in this unusual character. The 'eyelash' marks are not as well executed as on earlier examples where they seem invariably present.

Compare this example which I believe is possibly late 18th-early 19th c. and the differences, especially the 'sickle marks'.
These are more in line with the actual Genoan/Styrian types with the triple dots etc.
The hilt here seems notably different, but is smooth rather than the fluting and quadrangular design (which is indeed correct but absent on mine), the fluted scabbard (I do not have one) which is absolutely correct as well.

I think it is important to remember they were using these weapons in varying cases tribally into the third Afghan War (1919) and beyond. There were battles and warfare well into the 1930s. The blade on Francotolins is of the type made late 18th into 19th in Rajasthani regions and I have seen the cartouche (usually in Urdu) in that quadrant of the forte on tulwar blades.
It is the markings which seem 'modern' and the hilt seems made 'in the style of' in the manner of both tulwars and some paluoars of these northern regions. In my opinion it is an authentically made example but somewhat recomposed.

ariel 12th June 2021 04:43 AM

I mostly agree with Jim about the relative " newness", and I think we need to look at the separate parts.
The chape: it has a drag, which is a purely European feature, acquired by the Afghanis from the British military, late 19-early 20 century and continued later.
The blade is Indian, which is no brainer: there are scores of Afghani pulwars with imported blades. It carries Indian stamp, but no Afghani ones. It looks either pristine or grossly overcleaned. I am surprised that there is no rust/patination under the langets: these areas are the most difficult to clean. No pitting, the edge is intact. No signs of repeat sharpening. Brass inlay is very clumsy, with no losses whatsoever. The blade does not seem to go down into the scabbard all the way. Am I correct?Dry wood? But with all of the above I have a nasty feeling that the scabbard was not made for this specific blade, on the contrary the blade was chosen as best as they could for a particular scabbard. There is a stark contrast between the condition of the scabbars'd metal parts ( bumps, patination, discoloration, some losses, rotten dry wood etc) and the pristine condition of the blade.

The handles are easily available and present no difficulty to combine with a blade. Again, no patination or pitting at all. I would be most interested in the condition of the filler: full, smooth or dry, crumbly, with areas of losses? BTW, what is the material of the filler? The old way to prepare the filler was to mix lac, a little bit of wax and crudely powdered bricks or such, and those are easily made locally, and the filler doesn't hold intact forever.

Overall, I have an uncomfortable feeling that this sword is an assembly of a relatively old scabbard ( end of 19-beginning of 20 century) with much newer blade and with overcleaned (?) handle of uncertain age. Manufacture of "antique" swords is perhaps one of the main sources of foreign currency in modern Afghanistan, with the exception of opium. That part of the world is awash in spare parts for whatever weapons one's heart desires, and Indian/Pakistani/Afghani armorers are also in great supply.

My 5 cents. A disclaimer: I could be able to express a more accurate opinion had I been able to hold this sword in my hands. Dating antiques by examining pictures is a dicey proposition.

Kubur 12th June 2021 07:16 AM

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I agree with Ariel the scabbard is late 19th c.
The blade could be Indian (it's what collectors say...)
The only forum member who could answer with precision to your question is Mahratt.
Here is the pulwar that I mentionned: you should post your sword the same manner to compare the blades.

francantolin 12th June 2021 09:19 AM

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Thank you for the comments,
It needed more informations about the sword:

an heavy sword weight 1080 grams
length 98cm, 103cm with scabbard

The blade fits good entirely in the scabbard ,
just the end of the the scabbard was really bad preserved as I wrote ( humidity...) I think there was a metal chape before...

the blade maybe was polished later when they did the engravings for the afghan sentence ?

I think end of 19th century for this sword is right,
the indian blade, don't really know ...
Thank you Jim about the Indian Urdu cartouche

About the hilt, maybe not too old but it is really finely crafted and of higher quality than average pulwar hilts I think,
I saw a few sword with all these delicate holes/perforations, One similar sold by Czern'ys, another from Mandarin Mansion, ( thank you for the pictures !)

( Inside there are too 'small 'stones'' inside who makes rattle sound,
I read it could be Mecca stones...)

I am the overcleaner :) and remove rust from everypart ( too under the langets ;) ),
some might say I wouldn't to and perhaps it has less value like that,
but I couldn't leave it like that: cf pictures ...
we can see that the blade was already in better conditions than the rest of the sword before my ''wash'' ,
that's what surprise me first too the blade was maybe polished later
( when they did the engravings for the afghan sentence ? If it's afghan... )

francantolin 12th June 2021 09:21 AM

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the last...

Kind regards

Jim McDougall 12th June 2021 05:04 PM

As Ariel has noted, the 'industry' of creating representations of traditional weapons is well known in Afghanistan, particularly in Khyber and Northwest province regions, and has been since mid 19th c.

I had not noticed the 'drag' on the chape, a distinctly western affectation reflecting the move to western influences post 2nd Afghan War (1879-80).
By this time Afghanistan had become controlled by Great Britain much as in the Indian Raj, and the military was augmented by native units as well as the use of British uniform elements and weaponry.

The Khyber knife was vestigially replaced by European style hilted short sabers, though these hilts were also placed on the heirloom blades of the Khyber knives in many cases.

The inscription on this blade is likely in either Dari Persian or in Naskh if in Pashto. Unfortunately I cannot translate.

The 'mecca stones' are an unusual affectation in these (I think Ashoka had one) and these are known in pommels of late 19th c Sudanese swords, so possibly a Sufi feature?

On a personal note, my preference is to avoid overcleaning swords, primarily because I am a historian, and removing patination is to essentially remove history itself in a sense. Naturally it is important to stabilize a weapon from any active corrosion or rust, and add any minor repair to maintain the integrity of the weapon. However over cleaning and alteration typically remove the elements of the 'adventures' the weapon has gone through over time and its working life. Just my thoughts :) each collector has own preferences.

ariel 12th June 2021 05:11 PM

If the contrast between physical conditions of the scabbard vs. blade is explained by your overeager cleaning ( note: this is my personal opinion, I prefer to keep mine with “ kisses of time”, but others might agree with you), the only issue remaining is the age of the filler: was the sword disassembled and/ or the handle is a replacement. Based on your recent pics with heavily patinated handle, I tend to think that the handle is original.
If all is fine, the issue of age will be closed: not earlier than the end of 19 century, and then all the way up to the first third of the 20 century. This one does not look like a regulation weapon ( no government marks), and a private purchase is very likely. That could have happened any time withint the above time frame.

ariel 12th June 2021 05:19 PM

We crossed the posts:-) Glad we agree.

francantolin 12th June 2021 08:05 PM

Thank's a lot gentlemen
for your useful ( and corroborating :) ) advice !

Sure remove rust removes a part of history
but It can make appear buried signs/clues ( but I'm ok, this time it's overcleaned...)

For the translation, glad if one day something can come out !

Kind regards and one more time thank's a lot !!

Jens Nordlunde 12th June 2021 09:24 PM

Maybe this picture will help.

Jens Nordlunde 12th June 2021 09:27 PM

The picture is very black - is it possible to make it lighter?

francantolin 13th June 2021 06:52 AM

? :confused:

Quite the contrary, it's a really light picture ! :)

Jim McDougall 13th June 2021 05:12 PM


Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde (Post 263472)
Maybe this picture will help.

Hi Jens,
Were you attaching a picture?
Any thoughts on this? I know you know tulwars better than anyone :) but thoughts on these sickle marks ? The ones on this example seem modern (20th c). while the blade seems 19th.

Kubur 13th June 2021 08:58 PM

Well guys
I friendly but strongly disagree with you.
Maybe the blade is older, but the hilt and the scabbard are late 19th c.
Please look at Mahrat's book, p. 152-167, the same hilts with same quillons.

For some readers, I'm aware that some forum members criticized the book of my Russian friend.
I know that some forum members will not consider what I write because they know better.
But some forum members are following my posts and I will write for them first.
Even if Mahrat’s book is not perfect, even if some of you spotted some mistakes.
First, nobody is perfect, and my respect will always go first to the people who do something, for example a book on Afghan weapons.
As far I know it is the only monograph on this topic, so even not perfect it is a reference, maybe not The reference but a reference, the only one devoted to this topic.
Like Kozo’s book on Balkans knives is not perfect (see my previous post), it is a reference for Balkan knives.
In short, honest and good researchers will mention Mahrat’s book, like Tirri’s or other book. It is maybe not what you like but the book is there.
If some of you think they can do better, please write a book, I’ll buy it.

PS: My comments are not adressed to the previous posts/authors but connected to previous discussions and posts about the same topic.

Jim McDougall 13th June 2021 10:28 PM

Thank you for the kind words, and well placed on the book by Dima, who is a very close friend of mine for years now, I am proud to say. I knew when he was writing the book, and had the opportunity to help with some of the material used. His book is EXCELLENT! and cannot be mentioned in the same context as Tirri's, which is a different story, a different kind of book.

Please understand, and I must reiterate, I do not doubt the scabbard is 19th c. nor the hilt, most likely the hilt is newer and is unusual in the type of piercings, the narrow set of the quillons, etc. The blade is certainly 19th c. as well and as noted probably Rajasthani...........the 'sickle' marks are of unusual nature and seem later, perhaps early 20th.
I will have to get my copy of the book, not at hand at the moment.

Please erase the word 'modern' from my comments as it is the source of too much consternation. The sword is late 19th into early 20th, with a older scabbard, and the blade N. Indian mid 19th.

These paluoars were no longer heavily used by the 1880s, except in remote tribal environs. The inscription on the blade suggests a genuinely tribal context, and may well have been a diplomatic presentation as often the case with traditional ethnic forms.

Regarding again the book, of course there will always be disagreements, it is inevitable, but as far as I'm concerned, I admire anyone having the courage to publish......there will always be critics. As I was once told by a well known author, "...just write Jim, tell the people what they need to know...and dont worry about the critics...most of them never lift a pencil.....just write!".

ariel 16th June 2021 05:33 AM


Originally Posted by Jim McDougall (Post 26351)

The inscription on the blade suggests a genuinely tribal context, and may well have been a diplomatic presentation as often the case with traditional ethnic forms.

We need Kwiatek.

francantolin 16th June 2021 03:39 PM

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Hello all,
Glad if Kwiatek can help !! :)

I post other picture about what I found in my internet ''hunt'' for pulwars with similar hilt and scabbard,
found two,
I think, 18th century is exagerated by the auction house
( and the blade is different and made of wootz )
but I put the picture because they wrote to compare the almost similar hilt, to have a look on this book:

Indian and Oriental Armour by Lord Egerton of Tatton,
Plate III, sword no 7
Somebody has got this book perhaps ??

Kind Regards

kwiatek 17th June 2021 11:32 PM

I cannot make sense of this as Arabic or Persian, though there are Arabic/Persian words in it. The first words look like

عمل شاه محمود

'amal-i shah mahmud

'Work of Shah Mahmud'

and the last word is اول



What comes in between I can't help you with I'm afraid!

francantolin 18th June 2021 10:39 AM

Hello Kwiatek,
Thank you for time and help !!

Kubur 20th June 2021 06:48 PM

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Originally Posted by francantolin (Post 263616)
Indian and Oriental Armour by Lord Egerton of Tatton,
Plate III, sword no 7
Somebody has got this book perhaps ??


francantolin 22nd June 2021 08:28 PM

Shazaam :)
Thank you !!!

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