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Old 14th March 2021, 03:38 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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Originally Posted by Mercenary
Two different words that sound the same in one language, in another language will be spelled similar. But these are two different words.

The author of the treatise knew what he was writing. Treatise on astrology. About dagger "bank" it is not his fantasy, I think.

Thank you Mercenary, very well explained and all points well taken. There are many instances of words written the same or pronounced the same, which may have entirely different meanings when taken out of context.
I think Robert Elgood was most prudent in pointing out in his glossary ("Hindu Arms and Ritual") that the term 'mel puttah bemoh' was may have not been the proper term in local parlance, but noted it more as a point of reference.

Wayne, thank you for the illustrations! As always, especally in this case, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words!!!

Most collectors strive for concise and exact categoric descriptions, and this is perhaps the reason behind the plethora of 'collectors term' that plague the serious study of ethnographic arms. As you well point out, 'it is not quite so simple'.It seems however that while scholars in these studies of course seek more accurate and proper terminology, collectors and the general populace go for a term that serves collectively in their own vernacular.

In following your use of analogy, take for instance the case of the Sudanese 'kaskara' broadsword. Years ago studying these I was surprised when I discovered that in virtually the entirety of regions using these swords, this term was NEVER used to describe it, only (as in many Arabic speaking areas, the word sa'if was used). Using that term to speak to locals was pretty much useless. Years later we found that the term was from tribal dialect in regions west of Sudan, and in my opinion likely entered the collectors lexicon with Sir Richard Burton (a linguist, "Book of the Sword", 1884) to describe these.

Simiilar dilemma occurred with the 'katar' situation, which seems to be generally held that Egerton (1885) transposed the term from another dagger to the transverse grip 'jamadhar' (as per Pant, 1980), thus, again, entering the collectors lexicon accordingly. While most of us know the term is technically incorrect, the the sake of expediency, we use 'katar' in discussion and descriptions.

In that convention, it seems that mel puttah bemoh serves for the same purpose, while more etymologically and linguistically proper term will hopefully be added to the scholarly literature as research develops into conclusions.

Wayne, thank you for the excellent illustrations! As said, a picture is worth a thousand words, especially in these kinds of situations!!
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