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Old 1st June 2021, 02:44 AM   #1
kahnjar1
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Default TULWAR for Comment and ID

Can anyone please ID the origins of this Tulwar. The 32" curved blade (very sharp) appears of good quality and has no marks of any sort visible.
The hilt is what interests me in that it appears to have been cast with very nice decoration. Most Tulwar I have seen either have a plain hilt or have Koftgari decoration.
Any and all comments welcome.
Stu
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Old 1st June 2021, 10:40 AM   #2
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Very nice. Ferrous hilts are usually forged in several pieces and brazed together rather than cast in one and the decoration chiselled in. Look carefully and you might find the brazing lines. If it is cast in one piece then I would think it a later piece rather than 18thC.
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Old 2nd June 2021, 10:05 PM   #3
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I will add here that based on how the hilt is decorated it is likely of South Indian origin. Of course, the blade could be from anywhere north or south.
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Old 3rd June 2021, 04:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by David R View Post
Very nice. Ferrous hilts are usually forged in several pieces and brazed together rather than cast in one and the decoration chiselled in. Look carefully and you might find the brazing lines. If it is cast in one piece then I would think it a later piece rather than 18thC.
Thanks David. Clear signs of brazing Had not thought to look before.
Stu
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Old 3rd June 2021, 04:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Nihl View Post
I will add here that based on how the hilt is decorated it is likely of South Indian origin. Of course, the blade could be from anywhere north or south.
Thanks Nihl this is what I was hoping to find out. From the comments in Tirri's book it would appear that different hilt styles are also called by different names. Any idea on this one?
Stu
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Old 3rd June 2021, 07:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Nihl View Post
I will add here that based on how the hilt is decorated it is likely of South Indian origin. Of course, the blade could be from anywhere north or south.
Hi Nihl,
Like Stu I would like to know more.
Which decoration let you think that the hilt is South Indian?
Is it the guard, the pommel or something else?
Thanks
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Old 4th June 2021, 11:30 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
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A very nice example Stu, and what I would consider probably Rajput, if considering the designs in the pommel bowl. The langet and general styling corresponds with tulwars from N.India, particularly regions near what is now Afghanistan, and south into Sind, Baluchistan, Rajasthan....noting that Rajasthan held most of the production centers.

It is extremely difficult to geographically place tulwars as these were used in so many regions, but primarily in India north of the Deccan. Tulwars did however follow southward through Deccan to Sultanates in south as far as Mysore with Mughals.

It is pretty much always safe to assess 19th century with these tulwars, though many can place further back into mid to latter 18th on occasion. Mostly they are mid to latter 19th c. Remarkable numbers of these were collected as souvenirs during the British Raj, and at the huge 'Durbar' events where sellers from many princely states presented their wares.

Tirri's book follows many writers in relying on the Pant classification system ("Indian Arms & Armor", G.N.Pant, 1980) where the author has categorized various styles mostly in accord with regions, and while useful as far as using the terms in discussion to specify, these classifications are not entirely viable.
For example terms like Udaipuri, Sirohi etc. are among numerous locations in Rajasthan where hilts and blades were widely produced, exchanged and exported. These hilts were maintained traditionally for centuries, and only decorative nuances and motifs can sometimes offer more specifics.
For example Lahore had distinct preferences for enamel on hilts, some locations used gold koftgari in a 'diaper' pattern , some used the silver over back 'Bidri' style. The floral or star shape on the guard on this one along with the face like langet remind me of northwest frontier (then termed India, but now Afghanistan, Khyber into Sind).

The designs in the pommel remind me of the kinds of designs used by Rajput clans, in this case solar themed.
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Old 5th June 2021, 04:23 PM   #8
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Thank you Jim, very informative as always!
If I remember Rawson discussed Indian hilt styles too, but the lack of pictures makes the text difficult to understand...At least, Pant had these ugly, but useful, drawings...
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Old 5th June 2021, 05:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
Thank you Jim, very informative as always!
If I remember Rawson discussed Indian hilt styles too, but the lack of pictures makes the text difficult to understand...At least, Pant had these ugly, but useful, drawings...

Thanks Kubur, actually I had great opportunities in learning about tulwars in years of discussions with Jens, as well as researching these in many resources that developed along with them. Actually Jens was involved in printing the first edition of 'The Indian Sword" in Denmark and once shared the original manuscript from Philip Rawson, which was written in cataloging the collections in V & A in London.

Actually, as Jens once pointed out, Rawson was concerned primarily with blade forms and made little mention of hilts. Pant, in 1980, was concerned primarily with hilt forms, though of course did make some observations on blades. He also took issue with numerous statements made by Rawson, and noted those in rebuttal in his book.

Its funny, even as much as I learned on tulwars, for years, I have only found more questions to be answered!
The learning never stops.....which is why we're all here.
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Old 5th June 2021, 09:49 PM   #10
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A very nice example Stu, and what I would consider probably Rajput, if considering the designs in the pommel bowl. The langet and general styling corresponds with tulwars from N.India, particularly regions near what is now Afghanistan, and south into Sind, Baluchistan, Rajasthan....noting that Rajasthan held most of the production centers.

It is extremely difficult to geographically place tulwars as these were used in so many regions, but primarily in India north of the Deccan. Tulwars did however follow southward through Deccan to Sultanates in south as far as Mysore with Mughals.

It is pretty much always safe to assess 19th century with these tulwars, though many can place further back into mid to latter 18th on occasion. Mostly they are mid to latter 19th c. Remarkable numbers of these were collected as souvenirs during the British Raj, and at the huge 'Durbar' events where sellers from many princely states presented their wares.

Tirri's book follows many writers in relying on the Pant classification system ("Indian Arms & Armor", G.N.Pant, 1980) where the author has categorized various styles mostly in accord with regions, and while useful as far as using the terms in discussion to specify, these classifications are not entirely viable.
For example terms like Udaipuri, Sirohi etc. are among numerous locations in Rajasthan where hilts and blades were widely produced, exchanged and exported. These hilts were maintained traditionally for centuries, and only decorative nuances and motifs can sometimes offer more specifics.
For example Lahore had distinct preferences for enamel on hilts, some locations used gold koftgari in a 'diaper' pattern , some used the silver over back 'Bidri' style. The floral or star shape on the guard on this one along with the face like langet remind me of northwest frontier (then termed India, but now Afghanistan, Khyber into Sind).

The designs in the pommel remind me of the kinds of designs used by Rajput clans, in this case solar themed.
Thank you very much Jim. As usual most informative.
Stu
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Old 6th June 2021, 12:11 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
Hi Nihl,

Which decoration let you think that the hilt is South Indian?
Is it the guard, the pommel or something else?...
I am with Nihl.
My “sign” would be the dot ( or hemispherical ) protrusions on the edges all over the handle.

And, of course, it is difficult to find tulwars with both original handle and blade.
The genuinely older ones were often “mix-and -matched” repeatedly during their working lives, and then in the 20th century by the dealers. Perhaps, as Elgood has pointed out , the instances of their “ first and only” marriage can be seen coming mainly from the workshops of Indian princely families around late 19th century as gifts or just plain souvenirs.
Per Elgood’s opinion, Wallace collection assembled after 1870 is full of them, while they are exceedingly rare in the V&A collection assembled prior to that.
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Old 6th June 2021, 06:02 AM   #12
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I am curious about the 'South Indian' suggestion as far as the style of this tulwar hilt, and I dont mean to dispute but understand just what region(s) of south India is being referred to.
The 'tulwar' , that is the hilt form generally termed Indo-Persian as seen here is as I have noted predominant in the northern regions I named.

The features I noted, the pierced langet, the decoration in the pommel disc interior, the four point star or floral motif on the guard, are all characteristic to northwest India, particularly into Afghan regions.
The paluoar, which is considered an exclusively Afghan sword with drooping quillons and the bowl type pommel, is often seen with the four point motif on the guard, and the pierced langet which somewhat recalls zoomorphic figures as on langets (the makara is typically known in north, while yali in south).

I would point out that it is generally held that the paluoar is actually a northern India form of tulwar (as described in Egerton, 1885) and its features influenced by styles from the Deccan (central part of India).

Influences from there into Afghan regions were cross diffused with the Pathan communities which developed in Kurnool, Cuddapah and Savanur regions in the Deccani sphere.

While the 'tulwar' (as described) was not used in any notable degree in the south, Tipu Sultan did have one (now displayed in New Delhi).

However I can see the feature of the 'beaded' edges on the guard etc. being regarded as 'southern' as this fashion does occur on katars and some other weapons of Tanjore (Tamilnadu). I think it may be reasonable to think that this 'convention' might have transmitted to the 'north' after Adoni (1689) where large volume of arms and armor were captured and taken to the armory at Bikaner (Rajasthan).

This might offer an explanation for the apparently amalgamated overall design of this very attractive hilt.

As has been noted, it was quite common to have hilts and blades stored separately in many armories in the princely states, and these elements were imported from various sources, often assembled as required. As with most ethnographic weapons, swords were refurbished, often numerous times, as local or individuals tastes specified. With this well known propensity it is hard to specify 'original' or homogenous state on weapons which were subject to these kinds of changes in their working lives.

The Great Exhibition in London very much increased the public interest in items from India and acquisition of many souvenirs imported, which undoubtedly included weapons. The interest waned in large degree by 1863 when East India House was closed, and holdings dispersed.

I hope this better explains my perspective on this particular tulwar posted by Stu, and on the disposition of these swords from 19th c.

Attached are images of 'paluoars' (north Indian /Afghan tulwars 19th c) showing the langet and guard decoration I refer to, and a grouping of pommels from tulwars, primarily from Rajasthan centers with likely Rajput orientation possible.
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Old 6th June 2021, 06:08 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by kahnjar1 View Post
Thank you very much Jim. As usual most informative.
Stu
You are quite welcome Stu, its always good to see a great example for discussion and a chance to revisit old studies.
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Old 8th June 2021, 07:20 AM   #14
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Hi Jim,
I guess the door is still open in terms of the origins of my Tulwar. So it could be either North or South India depending on your particular view. Anyway lets say at least it is Western India (either north or south!)
My understanding of those Northwest Indian swords is that if they have the downturned quillons then they are Afghani Poulwars and not Tulwars, but whats in a name anyway!
Really love that pic of the Tulwar hilt tops!
Stu
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Old 8th June 2021, 02:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1 View Post
Hi Jim,
I guess the door is still open in terms of the origins of my Tulwar. So it could be either North or South India depending on your particular view. Anyway lets say at least it is Western India (either north or south!)
My understanding of those Northwest Indian swords is that if they have the downturned quillons then they are Afghani Poulwars and not Tulwars, but whats in a name anyway!
Really love that pic of the Tulwar hilt tops!
Stu

I guess it comes down to, just WHAT includes South India...........the tulwar (Indo-Persian hilt as commonly known) was simply NOT used south of the Deccan. The only exception was that Tipu Sultan of Mysore had one, and if his forces possibly used them. It is just they were not prevalent by any means. Nobody will find a Tamil tulwar.
In the Deccan what prevailed was the khanda, firangi, though I have an example of a 'shamshir hilt' 'tulwar from Deccan.

Correct on the downturn quillons regarded as paluoars (cognate with 'tulwar'), which were regarded as Northwest Indian in 1880s into early 20th.
Now they are considered Afghan but their use had already gone by these times. The 'features' in the hilts were regarded as Deccani in the quillon terminals and bowl pommel .

So I am curious in the suggestion of South Indian tulwar, just what geographic area is meant?
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Old 8th June 2021, 06:41 PM   #16
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Default tulwar hilt forms

I wanted to add the 'Deccani' type tulwar mentioned in my previous post.
This hilt has what is termed 'Persian' style (=shamshir) hilt.
What I would note here is that 'tulwar' is an Indian dialect term for 'sword' in general, so here it is termed tulwar even with this type hilt.
What is interesting here is this one has a British M1788 light cavalry blade, and is an amalgamation likely from East India Co. in Mysore post Seringpatam (1800+).

Next is the most familiar 'Indo-Persian' hilt as seen in the OP form, but here the styling with peaked midrif, squared elongated langet is a type regarded (Pant.1980) as Udaipuri (Udaiper, a city in Rajasthan state), and these probably may be considered mostly Rajput in use, though of course Sikhs and Jains also.
Note the 'stem' in the disc pommel, often associated with the longer stem on khanda/firangi also used by Rajputs (and of course Marathas), west central to northwest India.

Next is the 'Delhishahi' form (Pant, 1980) but without knuckleguard. This may be seen more as Mughal in form and as noted from Delhi in the north,but more eastward. These I have always considered more for 'court' wear, dress occasions.
This one unique in that it has an Osborn (England) 1796 blade, and may well derive again from East India Co. contact and Mughal connections between the south into Delhi in the north.
It is notable that Tipu Sultan of Mysore did have an Indo Persian hilt tulwar now on display in Delhi. Note the koftgari motif and floral pommel disc decoration, as opposed to the radiating geometrics in Rajput forms.
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Old 8th June 2021, 07:00 PM   #17
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Default Geography India

In this map of India, which might help clarify 'tulwar areas'

From the upper 'Central Provinces' northward are regions of the tulwar, with Rajasthan the primary production center for hilts. Often hilts were exported such as into regions in the 'gray' are which included Delhi, Lucknow and Agra, all Mughal primarily.

The central provinces comprise the 'Deccan' which can be considered geographic, cultural or ethnographic including tribal, religious followings. This 'very' loosely in my view becomes a kind of line of demarcation for the Indo-Persian hilt tulwar.
The exceptions are as noted with Tipu Sultan in Mysore, which along with Hyderabad were the possibilities for tulwar use, but only in degree as these are not significantly represented in tulwar references.
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Old 8th June 2021, 07:42 PM   #18
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Great explanation. Thank you, Jim.
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Old 9th June 2021, 02:07 AM   #19
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Hi Jim,
Once again thanks for a most useful and informative post. Seems to me that the hilt style varies by region which should make origin easy, but of course it does not. Just gives a guide to what SHOULD be, rather than what actually is.
Stu
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