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Old 31st March 2021, 04:52 AM   #1
DavidFriedman
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Default Lohangi Katti Indian Mace

Itís a pleasure to be a new member of this group. I welcome an opportunity to learn from you all.

Here is a recent acquisition that I very much enjoy. It is a Lohangi Katti mace from India, circa 1800ís. Itís length is 57 inches with a unique iron/steel wrapping configuration around rattan with well fashioned ferrules.

I would love any feedback on its history. It is featured in Egertons book and I found two examples in British museums identical. The VA Museum.

Cheers
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Old 1st April 2021, 01:10 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum David.

That's a lovely mace. I recall seeing a similar one in Egerton's book, and his extensive personal collection mostly ended up at the Victoria and Albert Museum, so maybe it's not surprising that you found pictures of examples there. Sorry, but I don't have any specific information about these.
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Old 1st April 2021, 11:21 PM   #3
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A wonderful, untouched piece with mellow patina. Quite a neat bit of blacksmithing on the iron "cage" surrounding the shaft.

It would be great if someone on this forum has additional information on these rare weapons and the tribe that used them; pity that the information in Egerton is so scanty.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 06:04 AM   #4
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While it is true that Egertons description is notably vague, what is important is to note the regions he names as locations of collection. #8 comes from Indore (Madhya Pradesh location); while #9 is from Satara, a location in Maharastra state in Western Ghats.

These regions are 'Deccani' and regions of the Maratha Empire. Notes on these weapons (they seem to be deemed 'clubs' rather than maces, and are over 4 ft. in length. Both areas are vast and covering Central India (typically considered the Deccan) and descriptions term these as used by 'aboriginal tribes' of Central India.

The collective term for 'aboriginal' tribes in India is 'Adivasi', and it seems to be inclusive of many tribes and sub tribes, so it is hard to be specific as to which tribe might have use of these. It does seem that whomever used them, it was a weapon favored by village watchmen. In appearance they seem to be more a contrived style of club which must have become popularized among tribal peoples in these regions, and notably uses the flanged mace head style seen in the maces of warriors of Marathas and others.
Among the tribes of Madhya Pradesh are the Gonds, and possibly searches into this and associated tribes might lead to more specific detail.

Robert Elgood ("Hindu Arms & Ritual" , 2004, p.281 lists the 'Lohangi' and Longi Kati' with apparent reference from Egerton, but adds cite to "List of Weapons Used in the Dakhan and Khandesh", W.F.Sinclair , Indian Antiquary, Vol.II, p.231, (1878).
I have this reference but need to locate it to see if any viable notes might lend more.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 08:22 PM   #5
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From : "List of Weapons used in the Dakhan and Khandesh"
W.F.Sinclair, 'the Indian Antiquary', Vol. II, p.216-17, Aug.1873

"...perhaps the most popular of all native weapons is the lohangi or longi kati-or ironbound bamboo: specially affected by Ramusis' and village watchmen.
I have one weighing six pounds, which was the property of a Koli dakait called Bugunya Naik who used to carry this in his left hand and a sheathless patti in his right when on service. Bagunya however disdained ordinarily to use his right hand or his trenchant blade but was content upon common occasions to rely on the club in his left, with which he actually knocked down two men in the affray that caused his final apprehension. "

The term 'Koli' apparently was used in regions of Gujerat to describe lawless people, but the Koli as a people were interpolated with the Bhil people. The term 'dacoit' (Sinclair notes 'dakait') means highwaymen or robbers.
This likely corresponds to the individual Sinclair describes and the 'affray' in which he was apprehended.

It would appear that the blades/flanges on the head of these clubs may have come from the 'bladed' maces termed 'shashbur' (the word means six bladed but they may have 6,7 or 8). These were used by Mughals but of course Rajputs as well ("Islamic Arms and Armor of Muslim India", Dr. S.Z.Haider, Lahore, 1991, p.226).
These Koli often assimilated into the Rajput ethnicity so influence would be of course likely.

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Old 4th April 2021, 07:18 AM   #6
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Default Lohangi Katti

Ian, Philip and Jim, thank you for your responses. Jim, your references are amazing, thank you. I have Egertons entry, but did not know of Sinclairís. I look forward to digging up his references.

I showed the weapon to a friend, who thought it was a fantastic piece. He noted some number (perhaps museum inventory numbers) which my fading eyesight missed. Tomorrow in the light and with the aid of a lens, I will take a picture and post the numbers on the rattan.

Iím wondering if inside of the rattan, if there may be a thin iron rod bridging through the entire length, the top and bottom ferrules, pinned in by pins of indeterminate length. Iím thinking to find a very strong magnet to feel any magnetic pull along the shaft.

Thanks again for all of your help. It will be exciting to study the tribes that were mentioned.

One more thing. I asked a teacher of Indian martial arts about it. He mentioned that, from his understanding, Kaparlik (sp?) skull carrying acolytes of the Shiva tradition (if I understood correctly) used this type of mace/staff. A legend was that these semi-naked spiritual warriors would sneak up on tigers and kill them in their sleep. It sounds to me more a metaphor of courage, stealth and wildness, rather than an actual practice. But I wonder if that is a lead to follow up on as well.
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Old 4th April 2021, 07:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Welcome to the forum David.

That's a lovely mace. I recall seeing a similar one in Egerton's book, and his extensive personal collection mostly ended up at the Victoria and Albert Museum, so maybe it's not surprising that you found pictures of examples there. Sorry, but I don't have any specific information about these.
Iím wondering if this one may have originally belonged to Egerton. Time for some sleuthing :-)
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Old 4th April 2021, 07:52 AM   #8
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Here is the link to the Victoria Albert Museum:

https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O442021/club-unknown




QUOTE=Ian]Welcome to the forum David.

That's a lovely mace. I recall seeing a similar one in Egerton's book, and his extensive personal collection mostly ended up at the Victoria and Albert Museum, so maybe it's not surprising that you found pictures of examples there. Sorry, but I don't have any specific information about these.[/QUOTE]
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Old 5th April 2021, 01:32 AM   #9
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Default going after sleeping tigers

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidFriedman


One more thing. I asked a teacher of Indian martial arts about it. He mentioned that, from his understanding, Kaparlik (sp?) skull carrying acolytes of the Shiva tradition (if I understood correctly) used this type of mace/staff. A legend was that these semi-naked spiritual warriors would sneak up on tigers and kill them in their sleep. It sounds to me more a metaphor of courage, stealth and wildness, rather than an actual practice. But I wonder if that is a lead to follow up on as well.
David, I know you have a martial arts background, but please refrain from trying this at your local zoo. Even if the shaft of your mace does have an iron core!

Seriously, the legend makes it a great metaphor. It mirrors the longevity of the tradition of European aristocracy hunting wild boar with spears, from the Middle Ages until recent times as evidenced by countless works of art, and spears of various dates and origins in collections. Indeed, the practice is depicted in Roman art (most notably a dramatically carved marble frieze in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence), and is immortalized in the Greek legend of Meleander and Atalanta killing the Hogzilla-sized Calydonian Boar, as recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Europe, lacking tigers in its native fauna, found the wild boar a worthy substitute for tenacity, strength, and ferocity. The animal was revered by the ancient Celtic peoples as a symbol of courage (the ancient tribes of Scotland used a war-trumpet modeled after a boar's tusked gaping maw, called a carynx, before they got the hang of bagpipes; its sound was enough to cause some alarm in the ranks of Roman legionaries facing them in the field.) Numerous stone boar statues from prehistoric times have been unearthed in northern Portugal and adjoining Spain, where Celtiberian civilization had a long tenure.
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Old 5th April 2021, 02:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidFriedman
Ian, Philip and Jim, thank you for your responses. Jim, your references are amazing, thank you. I have Egertons entry, but did not know of Sinclairís. I look forward to digging up his references.

I showed the weapon to a friend, who thought it was a fantastic piece. He noted some number (perhaps museum inventory numbers) which my fading eyesight missed. Tomorrow in the light and with the aid of a lens, I will take a picture and post the numbers on the rattan.

Iím wondering if inside of the rattan, if there may be a thin iron rod bridging through the entire length, the top and bottom ferrules, pinned in by pins of indeterminate length. Iím thinking to find a very strong magnet to feel any magnetic pull along the shaft.

Thanks again for all of your help. It will be exciting to study the tribes that were mentioned.

One more thing. I asked a teacher of Indian martial arts about it. He mentioned that, from his understanding, Kaparlik (sp?) skull carrying acolytes of the Shiva tradition (if I understood correctly) used this type of mace/staff. A legend was that these semi-naked spiritual warriors would sneak up on tigers and kill them in their sleep. It sounds to me more a metaphor of courage, stealth and wildness, rather than an actual practice. But I wonder if that is a lead to follow up on as well.

Glad I could add to the entries with the guys here, I excerpted all the material from Sinclair which is simply a brief article in that periodical, and I had a photocopy from the British Museum from about 20 yrs ago.
It does seem possible that the weapon in Egerton is the same as the one in V&A holdings as its provenance is noted as Satara, as noted in his reference.
It is a shame that so much has been put into storage at V& A since Tony North passed .

There is a great deal of 'lore' on many Indian weapons, as well as many of the esoteric tribal groups, religious ascetics and cults. One such group was the 'thuggee' (even mentioned in the 30's film "Gunga Din") who were notorious killers and robbers who had a mysterious and unique axe they used.

Much of this material can be found (with notable sleuthing) in the volumes of adventure, travel literature of the early to mid 20th c. but not easy to locate. Still, thats the challenge!!!! '...the games's afoot!!!'.
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Old 5th April 2021, 06:46 AM   #11
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Hi Philip,
Haha, my martial arts skills extends to being able to enjoy the practice of Chai Tea. Hmm, zoo, I have to get past the video feeds first.

Actually in the Shastar Vidiya martial art of the teacher mentioned. The primary grade of animal style in the sequence, is Wild Boar, a style of unflinching ferocity, without much ability to retreat or any fancy (intelligent?) movements. So interesting that the Wild Boar was revered by the Celts. Iíd love to look into that more.

It sounds like the hunting of boars and tigers were heroic rites of passage, of hunter-warriors, equivalent to the slaying of the Minotaur in the labyrinths.

I believe that a Japanese God, Marishi-Ten rides a Wild Boar into battle. Originating from the Buddhist deity Marici.

Iíd love to have heard the Boar-Pipes atop the hills of Lairig Gru in the mists.

Cheers



Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
David, I know you have a martial arts background, but please refrain from trying this at your local zoo. Even if the shaft of your mace does have an iron core!

Seriously, the legend makes it a great metaphor. It mirrors the longevity of the tradition of European aristocracy hunting wild boar with spears, from the Middle Ages until recent times as evidenced by countless works of art, and spears of various dates and origins in collections. Indeed, the practice is depicted in Roman art (most notably a dramatically carved marble frieze in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence), and is immortalized in the Greek legend of Meleander and Atalanta killing the Hogzilla-sized Calydonian Boar, as recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Europe, lacking tigers in its native fauna, found the wild boar a worthy substitute for tenacity, strength, and ferocity. The animal was revered by the ancient Celtic peoples as a symbol of courage (the ancient tribes of Scotland used a war-trumpet modeled after a boar's tusked gaping maw, called a carynx, before they got the hang of bagpipes; its sound was enough to cause some alarm in the ranks of Roman legionaries facing them in the field.) Numerous stone boar statues from prehistoric times have been unearthed in northern Portugal and adjoining Spain, where Celtiberian civilization had a long tenure.
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Old 5th April 2021, 06:55 AM   #12
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Thanks again Jim for providing such wonderful information. Definitely itís putting me in a good direction to follow sleuthing for the origins and use of this thugee bonker.

I have a book I read half of regarding the exploits of a British journalist who was trying to track down the last king of the Thugees, a killer bandit who claimed to be some kind of Robin Hood with a Mahakala twist. Iíll see if I can find the title. I had heard that the Thugees loved to strangle their victims with a wipe/cloth that had metal weights of some kind on either end. They would whip the weighted sole/cloth around the victims neck and strangle them. The weight allowed the rope to spin around the neck quickly and by suprise.

I am very interested in finding out more about the ancient martial traditions of the Indian tribal, ethnic and spiritual sub groups. Especially the skull bearing Kaparlikas.

Unique axe, Iím curious what kind of axe the Thugees used. Any idea as to its form?

Yes, much sleuthing to be done, Iím looking forward to wild tales, and hope to share anything of significance if something unorthodox comes to light.

Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Glad I could add to the entries with the guys here, I excerpted all the material from Sinclair which is simply a brief article in that periodical, and I had a photocopy from the British Museum from about 20 yrs ago.
It does seem possible that the weapon in Egerton is the same as the one in V&A holdings as its provenance is noted as Satara, as noted in his reference.
It is a shame that so much has been put into storage at V& A since Tony North passed .

There is a great deal of 'lore' on many Indian weapons, as well as many of the esoteric tribal groups, religious ascetics and cults. One such group was the 'thuggee' (even mentioned in the 30's film "Gunga Din") who were notorious killers and robbers who had a mysterious and unique axe they used.

Much of this material can be found (with notable sleuthing) in the volumes of adventure, travel literature of the early to mid 20th c. but not easy to locate. Still, thats the challenge!!!! '...the games's afoot!!!'.
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Old 5th April 2021, 09:20 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
...(the ancient tribes of Scotland used a war-trumpet modeled after a boar's tusked gaping maw, called a carynx, ...
The Celtic world used 'em. Y

Your Music Lesson for the day:

See The Voice of the Carynx

( If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a few minutes of time )

Another carynx video

To be fair and balanced the Romans had a similar version:

The Cornu


...And now the science

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Old 6th April 2021, 03:01 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by kronckew
The Celtic world used 'em. Y

To be fair and balanced the Romans had a similar version:
Thanks for the links, carynx has a lot of musical possibilities -- what an otherworldly sound! Both eerie and awe-inspiring. Some years ago I saw a display in a vitrine at the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, featuring an excavated and surprisingly intact original, and an exact copy of same made by a notable instrument-maker in country. Unfortunately, there was no audio track for visitors to hear what it sounded like. YouTube is great.

I liked the way the Roman reenactor played Verdi's triumphal march from "Aida" on his cornu. The only improvement might be if the piece was performed on the dynastic Egyptian counterpart, in keeping with the theme of the opera.

The Romans had their share of brass instruments for military use: the circular cornu, the long straight tuba (similar concept as the much larger Tibetan ones blown at temple ceremonies), the buccina, and the lituus which was shorter and had a single bend looking like a tobacco-pipe. None of these had zoomorphic bells or mouths like the carynx. Even though the boar was an important symbol seen on military regalia such a legion standards.
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Old 6th April 2021, 05:35 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
From : "List of Weapons used in the Dakhan and Khandesh"
W.F.Sinclair, 'the Indian Antiquary', Vol. II, p.216-17, Aug.1873

"...perhaps the most popular of all native weapons is the lohangi or longi kati-or ironbound bamboo: specially affected by Ramusis' and village watchmen.
I have one weighing six pounds, which was the property of a Koli dakait called Bugunya Naik who used to carry this in his left hand and a sheathless patti in his right when on service. Bagunya however disdained ordinarily to use his right hand or his trenchant blade but was content upon common occasions to rely on the club in his left, with which he actually knocked down two men in the affray that caused his final apprehension. "

The term 'Koli' apparently was used in regions of Gujerat to describe lawless people, but the Koli as a people were interpolated with the Bhil people. The term 'dacoit' (Sinclair notes 'dakait') means highwaymen or robbers.
This likely corresponds to the individual Sinclair describes and the 'affray' in which he was apprehended.

It would appear that the blades/flanges on the head of these clubs may have come from the 'bladed' maces termed 'shashbur' (the word means six bladed but they may have 6,7 or 8). These were used by Mughals but of course Rajputs as well ("Islamic Arms and Armor of Muslim India", Dr. S.Z.Haider, Lahore, 1991, p.226).
These Koli often assimilated into the Rajput ethnicity so influence would be of course likely.
Hi Jim,

The Koli people are still found in Gujarat today. I worked with a large group of them and studied the nutritional status of their children (which was surprisingly good compared with the nutrition of locally resident children). The Koli are nomadic itinerant workers and moveóhomes and familiesófrom major town to major town. Snake charming, magic tricks, making of trinkets and charms are their means of making a living. Local residents treat them with disdain and suspicion, relegating them to the class of "untouchables." While nominally Hindus, the Koli are known to eat meat also (which likely helps improve the nutrition of their children by increasing the intake of iron, protein, and vitamins).

In many ways the Koli resemble the Romani of Europe. Indeed, there may be a direct relationship with the Romani (gypsies) who speak a language very similar to Gujarati. Reputable anthropologists have explored the genetic and cultural links between the Romani and the Koli.

The Koli of today could hardly be called dacoit. They may partake in petty larceny, but they are a peaceful group in my experience and of a rather likeable disposition when I got to know them. Of course, the fact that their group was paid a fee for the privilege of studying their children's height and weight and obtaining nutritional histories, may have had something to do with why they interacted positively with me. Being an old white Sahib with a beard was probably a help too.

In the group of Koli whom I studied there were also Bhil people traveling with them. However, the Bhil were definitely subordinate to the Koli in terms of where they were allowed to encamp and their share of funds collected by the overall group. The Bhil children were also more undernourished than the Koli children.

Ian
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Old 6th April 2021, 10:55 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Jim,

The Koli people are still found in Gujarat today. I worked with a large group of them and studied the nutritional status of their children (which was surprisingly good compared with the nutrition of locally resident children). The Koli are nomadic itinerant workers and moveóhomes and familiesófrom major town to major town. Snake charming, magic tricks, making of trinkets and charms are their means of making a living. Local residents treat them with disdain and suspicion, relegating them to the class of "untouchables." While nominally Hindus, the Koli are known to eat meat also (which likely helps improve the nutrition of their children by increasing the intake of iron, protein, and vitamins).

In many ways the Koli resemble the Romani of Europe. Indeed, there may be a direct relationship with the Romani (gypsies) who speak a language very similar to Gujarati. Reputable anthropologists have explored the genetic and cultural links between the Romani and the Koli.

The Koli of today could hardly be called dacoit. They may partake in petty larceny, but they are a peaceful group in my experience and of a rather likeable disposition when I got to know them. Of course, the fact that their group was paid a fee for the privilege of studying their children's height and weight and obtaining nutritional histories, may have had something to do with why they interacted positively with me. Being an old white Sahib with a beard was probably a help too.

In the group of Koli whom I studied there were also Bhil people traveling with them. However, the Bhil were definitely subordinate to the Koli in terms of where they were allowed to encamp and their share of funds collected by the overall group. The Bhil children were also more undernourished than the Koli children.

Ian

Ian, this is absolutely fascinating to have this kind of first hand anthropological insight into this group of people in India! I am sure that the instance being described by Sinclair, the author of the excerpt I noted, was describing an instance which reflects the disdain of which you speak toward these people in that time.

With the extreme diversity in India of ethnicity, religion, and languages, these kinds of circumstances in the social spectrum are to be expected, and the prevalent caste systems that exist there surely add to such conflicts.

Interesting that you note the Romani ('gypsies') in comparison to the Koli, and from what I have studied of the Gypsies, the references to India being their ancestral source seems widely held. The 'gypsy' term, if I am not mistaken, may derive from 'Egyptian' which Europeans considered 'exotic' and a sort of pejorative slang term with reference to them.

With these itinerant groups of India, another coming to mind are the Lohar, to the north and into what is now Afghanistan, who were apparently tinkerers and metal workers. Apparently Lohar is another of India's dialectic languages and its name became applied to this group of people. They have become known for the distinct 'pick axes' known from Khyber regions and termed 'lohar' in the panoply of Indian arms.

Which brings me to the question you asked David, on the axes of the 'Thuggee'. As I mentioned, an axe purported to be one of these was handled by the commander of the fort in "Gunga Din", and if I recall was a hafted type similar to the 'lohar'.

As far as generally known, there are no examples of these secretive weapons to have survived, and little is known of them. From what I recall the only reference to them (which I found passim in one source) is that they were small and of a hafted type very similar to lohar (a kind of ravens beak form).
Apparently they were crafted by the thug individual himself and followed elaborate ceremony involving concoctions of milk etc. and one note indicated decoration with seven strategically placed red dots.

It is interesting that this description of these axes being made by each man himself is remarkably mindful of the same description made by Stone (1934) toward the lohar axes of the Khyber, which each tribesman ( I believe they were Bannuchi if I recall) made himself.

We are seeing connections of these tribal groups here, and with the seeming variations of religious ascetics and mendicants which include the well known 'fakirs' it would be a fascinating study to learn how they are connected or differ. The unusual assortment of weaponry broadly ascribed to 'fakirs' such as madu madu; fakirs crutch and others seem to have an arms genre of their own, to which the lohar, Thuggee axes and for that matter these 'lohangi' may be added.
I just noted with 'lohangi' a possible cognate with 'lohar' ?

Again.....the game is afoot!
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Old 17th April 2021, 04:24 AM   #17
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Thanks Jim and Ian et all for further insight, reference and direction.

I will research these tribal groups within the Indian subcontinent. Also I will reach out to the Victoria Albert Museum to see if more insight can be attained from their provenance (Egerton?).

My eyesight is not the Eagle eye it used to be. My friend was glancing the weapon and he spied some numbers on the pole immediately bellow the iron bludgeon wrap.

Possibly museum catalogue numbers?

Iíve attached a closeup.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Ian, this is absolutely fascinating to have this kind of first hand anthropological insight into this group of people in India! I am sure that the instance being described by Sinclair, the author of the excerpt I noted, was describing an instance which reflects the disdain of which you speak toward these people in that time.

With the extreme diversity in India of ethnicity, religion, and languages, these kinds of circumstances in the social spectrum are to be expected, and the prevalent caste systems that exist there surely add to such conflicts.

Interesting that you note the Romani ('gypsies') in comparison to the Koli, and from what I have studied of the Gypsies, the references to India being their ancestral source seems widely held. The 'gypsy' term, if I am not mistaken, may derive from 'Egyptian' which Europeans considered 'exotic' and a sort of pejorative slang term with reference to them.

With these itinerant groups of India, another coming to mind are the Lohar, to the north and into what is now Afghanistan, who were apparently tinkerers and metal workers. Apparently Lohar is another of India's dialectic languages and its name became applied to this group of people. They have become known for the distinct 'pick axes' known from Khyber regions and termed 'lohar' in the panoply of Indian arms.

Which brings me to the question you asked David, on the axes of the 'Thuggee'. As I mentioned, an axe purported to be one of these was handled by the commander of the fort in "Gunga Din", and if I recall was a hafted type similar to the 'lohar'.

As far as generally known, there are no examples of these secretive weapons to have survived, and little is known of them. From what I recall the only reference to them (which I found passim in one source) is that they were small and of a hafted type very similar to lohar (a kind of ravens beak form).
Apparently they were crafted by the thug individual himself and followed elaborate ceremony involving concoctions of milk etc. and one note indicated decoration with seven strategically placed red dots.

It is interesting that this description of these axes being made by each man himself is remarkably mindful of the same description made by Stone (1934) toward the lohar axes of the Khyber, which each tribesman ( I believe they were Bannuchi if I recall) made himself.

We are seeing connections of these tribal groups here, and with the seeming variations of religious ascetics and mendicants which include the well known 'fakirs' it would be a fascinating study to learn how they are connected or differ. The unusual assortment of weaponry broadly ascribed to 'fakirs' such as madu madu; fakirs crutch and others seem to have an arms genre of their own, to which the lohar, Thuggee axes and for that matter these 'lohangi' may be added.
I just noted with 'lohangi' a possible cognate with 'lohar' ?

Again.....the game is afoot!
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