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manishkulkarni 30th March 2019 05:56 PM

Help with identifying a pair of pattas (gauntlet swords)!
6 Attachment(s)
Hello All,

I'm a real newbie to antique swords and never intended to be a collector - it just happened! :) Most of what I've collected is over 2018, it all started from a Firangi. I was born and brought up in Mumbai, the state of Maharashtra which was the home of the great Maratha empire and it's talismanic leader King Shivaji Maharaj. I share the same mother tongue Marathi, so there was a natural affinity to Maratha swords; however, my main focus is on collecting swords from the British Raj era - anything that was manufactured or retailed in India. Can't explain why I feel so emotional about it, but it's a fascinating link to the legacy of how India as a nation shaped up! :) My aim is to collect from every retailer from the Raj times - I currently have swords from Manton & Co, Rankin & Com, Walter Locke & Co and Harman & Co. Below is a snap of the rack I built just a few months ago!

Now on to my question - I've recently acquired two beautiful pattas at an auction, again something very Maratha and I'd been on the look out for a long time! The question is - can anybody guess the approximate period, and equally importantly, the area/kingdom where these might have originated? The elephant and tiger styling probably ought to be unique to a particular princely state/kingdom, although I've seen tiger shaped patta examples before.

What's also interesting is that both hilts are rather small, even for an India hand. I've a relatively small hand/palm and I can just about get through the forearm protector, and it all fits really snugly. Could it be for boy/teenager or perhaps man of small stature - certainly smallish hands! My friends can't even get their hands through to the grip.

Any help with the identification, I'd be eternally grateful!


Robert 31st March 2019 04:04 AM

Hello manishkulkarni and welcome to the forum. I am sure that you will receive answers to many of your questions not only from other forum members but also from using the search feature located at the top of the page as well. To help maintain archival durability please re-post your photos directly to the forum as described here; Again, welcome to the forum and I hope you enjoy your time here.


manishkulkarni 31st March 2019 11:06 AM

Hi Robert,

Not sure I understood, I posted the snaps along with the new post just as explained...?! I'll now Edit the post and attach snaps. Thanks again!


Jens Nordlunde 31st March 2019 04:51 PM

Hello Marnish,
Welcome to the forum, I hope you will have many interesting moments here. Do use the SEARCH function on patas, and you can spend hours.

To your questions. I dont think your patas are very old I am sorry to say.
The elephant one is very 'crisp', and so does the other one look, especially at the top, although the head could be somewhat older. To this comes, that even newer patas could have been 'made' old by griŽnding them a bit, to remove the sharp edges, and to this comes that there are many ways to make steel look older than it is.

The types, seem to me, to be Deccani or South Indian.
Please tell us about the blades. Are they flexible, are they made of wootz, and do they have any markings?

Nihl 31st March 2019 05:22 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Hey there Manish, welcome to the forum!

I consider myself to be a bit of a newbie too, so some other users here will probably be able to tell you way more useful information your pattas, but here's my analysis:

Given their form, these would appear to be early/late 19th century "perfomance pattas", ie pieces that are meant to be show-offy and used in parades and martial arts exhibitions. These kinds of pattas are pretty much always made out of brass (like yours appear to be) and usually feature zoomorphic (animal) or occasionally anthropomorphic (human) designs on them, usually on the "face" of the patta where the blade is attached, as is the case with your elephant and lion headed pattas. Futhermore, these kinds of patta tend to be more sparsely decorated with shallower, vestigial designs reminiscent of those featured on earlier patta used in combat. These can mostly be seen on your elephant patta. I've attached images below of earlier patta with similar design elements.

Then here are some basic questions about them physically that I know other forum users (including myself) would appreciate knowing. How flexible are the blades? Are they stiff or springy? Are you at all able to give us the dimensions of each patta? Like how wide the inside of the gauntlet is? I, oddly enough, have only ever had pattas that were too big for my arms, and I'm a normal (albeit tall) adult male!

Looking at the tiger-headed one first, I would date it to late 19th century. It's a bit more simplistic than the other one, and quite clearly features a bunch of those aforementioned "shallow designs" in all of the various dots that appear to be punched into the "arm" of the gauntlet. One important thing seen in the evolution of the regular patta into the perfomance pata is that, along the way, they invariably lose the arm of their gauntlet. This part gets removed as it is what mainly prevents the use of the wrist in combat, and without it martial artist can whip their blades around in faster, fancier patterns that would otherwise be impossible to preform with a standard pattern. It could quite possibly be early 19th century, or conversely early 20th century, however I unaware of when this switch actually happened towards having a smaller gauntlet, if a definitive switch in styles even happened at all.

The elephant patta appears to be early 19th century, based on how many design elements it has that are reminiscent of earlier pattas. I'll do my best to attach an image showing this, but in words it goes something like: they both have distinct borders around the outside of the gauntlet; they both have decorative borders that divide that the surface of the patta into different sections (hand/head vs arm); around the back of the patta where you insert your arm, they both have a thickened/"reinforced" border back there; they both have a "spine" that runs along the back of the arm, dividing it in half. This aforementioned spine is clearly vestigial on the elephant patta, as it only a little of it remains, running briefly along the middle of the arm. Other than that, one thing to note is that Shivaji, at least in one portrait of him, is shown wearing a zoomorphic patta, and thus this particular style of gauntlet might be seen as more auspicious or regal because of it's relation to Shivaji possibly owning one.

Finally to the unfortunate bit, I, out of my newbie-ness, can't tell you anything about where these patta were made. My guess would probably be somewhere in Maharashtra because of the association with the patta and the Maratha Empire, however equally likely would be that it came from somewhere in Rajasthan due to their historical arms production, or perhaps (and almost more likely) somewhere different altogether!

manishkulkarni 31st March 2019 07:40 PM

Hi Nihl,

Wow, already so much detail! :) I'll catch up soon but just wanted to answer your questions on the dimentions.

The smaller one, with tiger head, is 27 inches double edged and is definiely flexible/springy as I believe pattas should be. The fist bar is about 3.75 inches in width.

The larger one, as a 39 inch blade and it pretty stiff, firmly rivetted to the hilt much like a firangi. Hardly any movement of the blade. The fist bar is just short of 3.5 inches, say by 2mm.

Very grateful for your response!

Mercenary 1st April 2019 07:01 PM


Originally Posted by Nihl

Well done! Thank you very much for such a detailed analysis.

manishkulkarni 1st April 2019 09:26 PM


Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Hello Marnish,
Welcome to the forum, I hope you will have many interesting moments here. Do use the SEARCH function on patas, and you can spend hours.

Hi Jens,

Apologies that I missed your reply! Hopefully I've answered your questions above, don't think its wootz steel as far as I can tell... I'm not really bothered about how old the pattas are - they are a symbol of the great Maratha empire that originated from where I belong, and the their great warriors are often depicted carrying one, none more so than King Shivaji as illustrated by Nihl above... so always wanted to have one! :) Thanks again for your response...

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