Thread: Elephant swords
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Old 5th December 2018, 01:24 AM   #30
Jim McDougall
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Looking further into this, regarding the interesting example shown here now in the Royal Armouries and the subject of the article by Thom Richardson (op.cit. 1999, p.133) it does appear these were to secure over the tusk, "...the inside of each socket tapers to a flat end, and is intended to fit over the sawn off tusk".

In the article it is stated these, like the elephant armor on display there, were acquired from Powis Castle, the items acquired by the Earl of Powis c. 1798 .
It is claimed that the armor dates from 16th c. but H.Robinson (1967, "Oriental Armour" p.119) says tradition claims it was taken by Clive at the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
While it was suggested these items belonged together, Richardson doubts it and suggests perhaps the tusk swords are earlier.

In looking at these tusk swords, the distinct fuller system is remarkably similar to the blades of Vijayanagara weapons of the 16th century, which is in my opinion possibly why Robert Elgood considers these Hindu, and I think this fullering supports the 16th century notion.


While these were it seems most probably Hindu examples, it does seem that Mughals did adopt tusk weapons in some degree.


In Robinson (1967) it is noted that "...the tusks of the beasts were tipped with metal points".


To this reference to points, Richardson notes from the Zafarnama of Sharaf ud-Din Yazdi the battle between Timur and the Delhi Sultan in 1398 (theaccount written 1424)..."...the enemies great reliance on war elephants - noting sharp poisoned points fastened to the tusks'.

The later accounts (1468-74) of Athanasius Nikiton in "Voyage to India" describing the Bahmani armies at Bidar having "...large scythes attached to the tusks and trunks of the elephants".

This account is suspect in my opinion as I have previously noted, the idea of bladed weapons attached to the trunk of an elephant seems insane.
Further these accounts describe swords of 100 lbs attached to the tusks and heavy weights on the trunk.
Why would ANY sword weigh 100 pounds? and put this enormous weight on the tusks? and THEN put heavy weights on the trunk?

I would better receive the notions of steel tips on the tusks than these huge blades...though the poison is a bit dramatized as often the case I think.
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