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Old 23rd December 2019, 06:45 PM   #1
ariel
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Default Afghani pulwar: old and ( perhaps) revealing

This is an Afghani pulwar, with a typical Afghani blade : false edge, narrow profile and very thick spine, thin fullers interrupted by flat planes and indentations filled with yellow and red lac. I suspect it is wootz because of a long " seam" or "crack" at the spine, but could not reveal it with lime juice or ferrous sulfate.

But my real question is about its handle: crudely-cast brass with very deep cup-like pommel and a baluster going all the way up from the bottom and having a lanyard hole. At first blush I thought that it was a traditional Afghani pommel with a lid lost, but the lanyard hole looked to be located quite low, below the presumed lid. I placed a very thin piece of metal next to it and indeed, at least a third of the hole was below the level of the presumed lid.
The rivet through the guard is distinctive though one can see this construction in Jodhpur in the 19th century examples and in the south even earlier (See Elgood's " Rajput Arms", vol. 1, p.22): the "adoption" of that feature went from South to North. Old brass shows that Afghanis used this material well before 20th century.

Thus, my cautious conclusion that this pommel had never had a lid, it was open, just like the pommels in Hamzanameh, the Brian's tulwar similar to piso podang or Jens' tulwar on pp. 350-3 in his book. If so, this might be an early pulwar handle, 17-18 cen. at the latest. Apparently, the owner thought it quite valuable for some reasons: one langet was broken and carefully shortened and reformed. The blade is likely newer than the hilt. Pics are attached

Your thoughts?
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Old 23rd December 2019, 07:24 PM   #2
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Why ask a question if you yourself answered this question for yourself a month ago by expressing your opinion?

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=25438

Message № 8.

Didn't you say that "I think the Afghani pulwar fully matured from the Deccani/ N. Indian cup-like form into a full “ pulwar one” not earlier than 17-18 century".

You are probably showing a Deccan sword, or an Afghan pulvar with a handle from Deccan (according to your own ideas)
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Old 24th December 2019, 01:01 AM   #3
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Don’t be concerned: this sword was looked at by Robert Elgood, and in his opinion it is 100% Afghani.

I know , you do not trust opinions of recognized authorities, especially when they are “elderly”. But maybe, just maybe, you would make an exception in this particular case? :-)
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Old 24th December 2019, 04:18 AM   #4
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I don't need be concerned This is not my sword. And I do not need to try to prove to anyone rarity this sword

I respect the opinion of Robert Elgood. But I think that only the psychic who sees the past can accurately state where and when the hilt of this sword was made. One can only speculate, paying attention to some signs) By the way, Robert Elgood did not tell you in which his book we will see your unique sword?
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Old 24th December 2019, 06:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahratt

I respect the opinion of Robert Elgood. But I think that only the psychic who sees the past can accurately state where and when the hilt of this sword was made.


Pity you cannot carefully read and comprehend his books: that’s exactly what he does.

Well, now can I get an informed and intelligent opinion from the Forumites?
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Old 24th December 2019, 11:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Pity you cannot carefully read and comprehend his books: that’s exactly what he does.


Don’t worry) It’s good enough to pay a professional translator and you can read any book that interests you. The main thing is not to be greedy

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Well, now can I get an informed and intelligent opinion from the Forumites?


It is strange to wait for an answer to a question that you yourself answered a month ago. Probably these are signs of age. Sclerosis?

You have not answered my question: Robert Elgood did not tell you in which his book we will see your unique sword?
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Old 24th December 2019, 01:01 PM   #7
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Please let’s get back to discussing this sword!

Sorry, Ariel, no informed contribution from me either since this is not my area of expertise if any. It certainly looks like a good ol’ warrior who could tell a bunch of stories!

Any signs of the lost wax casting remaining with this hilt? The guard does look typical. BTW, any idea which mythical creature is associated with this type by Afghan ethnic groups or possibly cultures elsewhere?

Considering that the open cup most likely is the original design, it is amazing how rare genuine examples appear to be extant while their descendants are pretty common on Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula.

The blade seems to exhibit the pretty crude craftsmanship often seen with Afghani blade decor. Any signs on the hardness of the steel when you cleaned the blade?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 24th December 2019, 03:21 PM   #8
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Kai,
I really do not know what are the specific signs of the lost wax casting I should be looking for:-(( But it was cast, no doubt, very basic work, kind of “ village level”.

Generally, the ends of downturned quillons on Afghani/Persian hilts are associated with dragons.
The blade is hard. Also, look at the second pic( handle with intact langet): there is a small part of the edge that “crumbled out” after some mechanical stress( a blow?). Thus, the steel is quite brittle, and that was yet another hint of the wootz nature of the blade.

The “open cup” design was first shown among the mid- 16 century illustrations for Hamzanama commissioned by Akbar. It was indeed considered extinct , but for the only surviving example belonging to Brian Isaac and illustrated by Elgood in his “Hindu” book. It indeed looks just like Piso Podang. However, similar idea was preserved in NW India, albeit with more shallow cups. The example from Jens’ collection ( see above), also from brass ( correct pages 321-323, sorry for the earlier mistake) is one of them, and I have several simpler ones. They are difficult to differentiate from the Afghani, but the close connections between the two areas are well known.

And yes, it is old. The broken langet was fixed for continuous use and the grip of the hilt is polished bright by the hand(s) of the owner(s). Even incised decorations on the grip are almost completely extinct, with only bits and pieces left over.

Last edited by ariel : 24th December 2019 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 24th December 2019, 03:41 PM   #9
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I am with Ariel. I dont think the cup disc has ever been closed.

Although it is a different hilt type see also my catalogue pp. 321-323 - picture attached.
From left to right, NW India/Afghanistan 17th century, Afghanistan 17th top early 18th century and Afghanistan late 18th to early 19th century.
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Old 24th December 2019, 08:02 PM   #10
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Jens,
Thanks for the examples!
Your first one ( brass) also seems to have been rather crudely cast; not as bad as mine, but still...
I just noticed another similarity between the two: the widened part of the grip is asymmetrically shifted toward the pommel. I looked at all my pulwars and all of them had it located in the midsection of the grip. Also, crenellated lower langets.
Was it a chancy coincidence, a “ signature” of a particular caster, or an early pattern ?
Curiousier and curiousier.....

Last edited by ariel : 24th December 2019 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 25th December 2019, 01:52 AM   #11
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Gentlemen, Kai is correct. Let us stay on topic and DITCH THE PERSONAL INSULTS!
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Old 26th December 2019, 08:49 PM   #12
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Just to add fuel to the discussion:-)

Here are 2 sabers. Both have thickly-patinated " tulwar" handles, but with a twist: their pommels are cup-like without lids. Both have crude fleuret terminals of their quillons. The upper one has no pin through the quillon bloc, but the lower one does.
The blade of the upper one is typically Afghani, the lower one - likely Afghani, but may conceivably be of NW Indian origin. No evidence of newer mastique, it is pretty crumbled and some of it is lost in both cases. Very ( very!) cautiously I would conclude that the entire handle/blade assemblies are original or at the very least belong to the working life of these sabers.

Overall, my interpretation:
-both are most likely old Afghani swords. Judging by the fleuret-like quillons, they may be 18 century ( See discussion of Jens' example from his book, p. 321 and its picture posted by him).

Are they, as well as my earlier example with brass handle, predecessors of the full-blown Pulwar pommel?
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Old 27th December 2019, 04:59 AM   #13
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Thanks for posting these Ariel. I know that the cupped parts of Indonesian piso pedangs come from Indian influence like these.
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Old 27th December 2019, 04:35 PM   #14
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Yes, Indians brought it to Sumatra together with Hulu Meu Apet ( original Gulabhati).
BTW, is it piso pEdang or piso pOdang? I remember a version that Podang was derived from Portuguese espadao ( -ao pronounced as -ang), "a sword". We have Portuguese gurus here, let them enlighten us.

Sword with both of those handles seem to have a whiff of European influence, with Achenese Peudeung often carrying European blades. Apparently, it was not popular there; the locals preferred swords that were heavy in their distal end to amplify their slashing power.
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Old 27th December 2019, 07:38 PM   #15
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I stand corrected and I think your spelling is the correct one - piso podang.

Thanks for catching that one .
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Old 27th December 2019, 10:10 PM   #16
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Not at all: it's my autistic obsessive-compulsive demon raising its head:-)
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Old 28th December 2019, 11:27 AM   #17
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Difficult to see exactly the way this hilt developed but I tend to think it was closed originally but in some the top fell off thus the open examples available. Were these strange pommels not used as fillers for seeds or small pebbles? in fact below is a turbaned or ball pommel and it indeed is filled with small pebbles or seeds ...

Pulouar is a Hindu word meaning flower from its more accurate spelling PHULA. Tulvar probably came from the same word. I wondered if it was from the Poppy? I show the poppy seed box below>>> is this perhaps the origin of the pommel in this case?

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...77&page=4&pp=30 illustrates a number of similarities and on the Blade at Ariels example it has peculiar parallel lines. Are these representative of the tears of the afflicted grooves and in the copper/brass inlaid dots are these pearls or tears in solid form?
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Last edited by Battara : 30th December 2019 at 12:06 AM. Reason: link to commercial website
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Old 28th December 2019, 12:24 PM   #18
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Ibrahiim al Balooshi, original and beautiful version.
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Old 28th December 2019, 03:23 PM   #19
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Ibrahiim,
We have already went thru a fanciful theory of the meaning and importance of “ phul” ( see topic “On the Use of Indian Terms for Identification of Weapon Types”).
We can also consider the possibility that perhaps the very word “pulwar” is a phonetically -mistaken variant of “ Tulwar” that entered European books either through a leaden ear of a European traveler, or through a pitch-perfect ear of the same traveler listening to a toothless Afghani. Indeed, the locals only shrug their shoulders in incomprehension when being asked about “ pulwar”: they call this saber “ shamshir”. The calamity of a straight-bladed peshkabz allegedly called “ Karud” is an example how phonetic tricks can find their way into European books and usage:-)

The connection between poppyseed boxes and hemispheric Afghani pommels seems unlikely, IMHO: those boxes are fully spherical ( as in your example). Had your suggestion been the case, we would have seen predominance of spherical form, but in reality they are almost as rare as hen’s teeth. Local and rare variants of spherical pommels stemming from hemispherical ones can be seen in other cultures: Sumatran Piso Podang’s open hemispherical cup became solid spherical one on Borneo Iban analogs.

Any hypothesis may be original and beautiful, but it does not make is plausible.
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Old 28th December 2019, 03:54 PM   #20
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The answer to how the Piso Podang hilt got spread to other countries may be found in Suvarnadvipa. Hindu Colonies of the Far East. By Dr. R.C.Majumdar. Cosmo Publications, India, 2004. Vol. I-II.
It starts in the 8th century and goes on till it all broke down centuries later. This Indian influence is likely still to be seen in some of the countries, and most cetrainly on some of the hilts.
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Old 29th December 2019, 12:14 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Ibrahiim,
We have already went thru a fanciful theory of the meaning and importance of “ phul” ( see topic “On the Use of Indian Terms for Identification of Weapon Types”).
We can also consider the possibility that perhaps the very word “pulwar” is a phonetically -mistaken variant of “ Tulwar” that entered European books either through a leaden ear of a European traveler, or through a pitch-perfect ear of the same traveler listening to a toothless Afghani. Indeed, the locals only shrug their shoulders in incomprehension when being asked about “ pulwar”: they call this saber “ shamshir”. The calamity of a straight-bladed peshkabz allegedly called “ Karud” is an example how phonetic tricks can find their way into European books and usage:-)

The connection between poppyseed boxes and hemispheric Afghani pommels seems unlikely, IMHO: those boxes are fully spherical ( as in your example). Had your suggestion been the case, we would have seen predominance of spherical form, but in reality they are almost as rare as hen’s teeth. Local and rare variants of spherical pommels stemming from hemispherical ones can be seen in other cultures: Sumatran Piso Podang’s open hemispherical cup became solid spherical one on Borneo Iban analogs.

Any hypothesis may be original and beautiful, but it does not make is plausible.





Salaams Ariel,

Any hypothesis may be original and beautiful, but it does not make is plausible.

I agree but then neither does it make it implausible. Local folk often shrug their shoulders when they don't know something....it is hardly proof.
NOW whereas I realize the difficulty note that I have shown a ''whats in a word '' derivative that is very plausible...TULVAR. PULOUAR. Add the Hindu word Phula meaning flower and you will agree that the poppy seed arrangement looks very similar to the pommel in the Turban/Ball form.

If I can focus on the hilt for a moment on Tulvar Pulouar and the word for flower Phul. Its not a word describing the Hilt but only the Pommel.

I ADD that in the case of Turban/Ball form and Tulvar Pulouar that seeds or pebbles were put in both possibly to alert the owner that someone was stealing their sword? My thought on the almost identical Turban/Ball form is that this possibly came earlier but did not defend the sword hand so well as the broader half ball or Tulvar Pulouar style... so it fell from use...

Regarding the variation and mistakes bouncing around other regional weapons; they may occasionally be similar in generating errors but hardly any are the same thus there are no hard and fast rules and none that I can judge of being the fault of the language they are printed in; while they may be part of the mystique, myth and legend of ancient tribal weaponry we call Ethnographic.
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Old 29th December 2019, 01:51 PM   #22
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There is a small twist of purely English spelling:-)

Correct spelling and pronounciation of the word Tulwar is Talwar:From Hindi तलवार (talwār). Pronunciation (UK) IPA: / ˈtʌlwɑː/; (US) IPA: /ˈtʌlwɑɹ/.

Spelling Tulwar is a purely English phenomenon : sometimes -u is pronounced as -a; see “dust”, “rust”, “lust” , “ugly”, “umbrella” etc. It largely depends on the initial linguistic origin, but sometimes it is messy and defies logic: see study and student. British colonizers heard the word as tAlwar, but spelled it differently, each to his own liking.

Some of us in writing still spell it as “ Tulwar”, some as “Talwar”, but no matter what pronounce it as tAlwa(r).

Thus, one cannot derive word Phul from it. Moreover, the word “phul”, flower, is pronounced as “Ful”, not “Pul”, and “ pAlwar” has nothing to do with “flower”.

Apparently, there is a Hindi word “pAlwar” ( also spelled with “-u”), but it has nothing to do with swords:
pul·​war | \ (ˌ)pəlˈwär \
plural -s
Definition of pulwar
: a light keelless riverboat used in India.

The bottom line: there are no flowers in pulwars:-)

G.B. Shaw made fun of English spelling, saying that word “ fish” should be spelled as “ghoti”: gh pronounced “f” as in laugh, o as “i” as in women, and ti as “sh” as in nation.
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Old 29th December 2019, 02:22 PM   #23
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Salaams Ibrahiim

I think these miniatures confirm that the spherical top of the handle sword was not uncommon.

Illustrations from the Manuscript of Baburnama (Memoirs of Babur) - Late 16th Century
Bāburnāma is the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur (1483-1530), founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur. It is an autobiographical work, originally written in the Chagatai language, known to Babur as "Turki" (meaning Turkic), the spoken language of the Andijan-Timurids. Because of Babur's cultural origin, his prose is highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology, and vocabulary,and also contains many phrases and smaller poems in Persian. During Emperor Akbar's reign, the work was completely translated to Persian by a Mughal courtier, Abdul Rahīm, in AH (Hijri) 998 (1589-90).

These Painting, being a fragment of a dispersed copy, was executed most probably in the late 16th CE century.
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Old 29th December 2019, 04:39 PM   #24
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Thanks. Very helpful.
When the picture is enlarged to 400-500%, one can see clearly that the pommels marked in red are not solid spherical, but flat on top ( hemispherical), hollow inside, have no lids and in some of them balusters protrude above the boundaries of the pommel. Also, their quillons are fleuret-like and not down-turned, strengthening Jens' statement of their earlier origin.
They look very much like my original example, only less Persianized ( quillon tips) suggesting that mine may be 16-17th century.
Again, thanks for confirming my suspicions.
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Old 29th December 2019, 05:57 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Thanks. Very helpful.
When the picture is enlarged to 400-500%, one can see clearly that the pommels marked in red are not solid spherical, but flat on top ( hemispherical), hollow inside, have no lids and in some of them balusters protrude above the boundaries of the pommel. Also, their quillons are fleuret-like and not down-turned, strengthening Jens' statement of their earlier origin.


You probably did not enlarge the miniature that I showed.
Although there are also hemispherical pommel on the miniature (I highlighted with a white arrow). The ratio of spherical pommels and hemispherical pommels is about the same, so it is difficult to say which shape of the top was more archaic.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Memoirs_of_Babur_(Walters_MS_596)#/media/File:Zahir_al-Din_Muhammad_Babur_-_The_Battle_of_Sultan_Husayn_Mirza_Against_Sultan_ Mas'ud_Mirza_-_Walters_W59618B_-_Full_Page.jpg
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Old 29th December 2019, 07:19 PM   #26
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You just did not zoom them enough. Look at their tops: they are flat.
Hemispherical as they can be , all showing darkened innards with protruding balusters, all just like the one with a white arrow.
Again, thanks for providing incontrovertible iconographic evidence in my favor.
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Old 29th December 2019, 08:04 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
You just did not zoom them enough.



If you enlarge the images even further, since the clarity of the image will be lost, you can expect any form of pommels.
I think everyone could see the form conceived by the author of the miniatures.
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Old 29th December 2019, 08:43 PM   #28
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Having politely thanked Mahratt for his valuable evidence in favor of my original post, I hereby stop responding to his comments.
Any other critiques/suggestions/interpretations are more than welcome.

Happy New Year!
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Old 29th December 2019, 09:08 PM   #29
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Salaams Ibrahiim

Maybe my eyesight is failing ... Look, please, are you leading a spherical pommel this sword here? Or a hemisphere?
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Old 30th December 2019, 12:15 AM   #30
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It does remind me of a rounded poppy. Interesting.
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