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Old 11th December 2020, 06:07 PM   #1
Drabant1701
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Default Indian sword with strange markings for comment

I have this indian sword that has me a bit puzzled, so I am hoping some of the more seasoned collectors of indian arms can enlighten me.

It's a large and heavy sword, about 90cm. I think its south indian, maybe second half of the 18th century. It has a ricasso. On one side there is a Genoese eye lash mark. On the other side there are arabic numeral 436, most likely added later as a collection or armory mark. And then there is a very strange marked carved into the blade, I have no idea what it is. If you remove some bits, it may resemble a unbrella. But this is obviously not a royal sword. I have also read that most umbrella marks are added later to add to the sword value, but if that is the case why put this odd thing on it at not a simple umbrella.

I would appreciate any additional information on the sword and the markings. Thanks for looking!
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Last edited by Drabant1701; 11th December 2020 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 11th December 2020, 11:21 PM   #2
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Elgood, in his most recent book about Jodhpur armory has a special chapter about the umbrella mark.
They were put left and right to signify royal ownership, with which they had nothing in common. They might have been put later in sword’s life, but also by the original master. In retrospect, such forgeries are benign, silly and naive, and just add some human touch. I would not hesitate to hang this sword on my wall.
And overall, it is a very fine sword.
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Old 12th December 2020, 03:28 PM   #3
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I have a similar one with only eyelash markings and a T shaped spine.
I believe these are known as Tegha type for cutting through cloth armour.
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Old 12th December 2020, 03:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will M
I have a similar one with only eyelash markings and a T shaped spine.
I believe these are known as Tegha type for cutting through cloth armour.
That sounds likely. The blade is all business, very rigid and heavy.
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Old 12th December 2020, 06:24 PM   #5
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I very much agree with Ariel's well stated comments, which reflect the observations of Robert Elgood in this outstanding reference concerning the 'umbrella' marking.
The use of this marking was indeed meant to signify regal association and as is often the case, became widely used in the manner that makers often spuriously used the marks of the 'espadero del rey' (for example)as a quality symbol. This type of spurious use to present and suggest strong imbuement in a blade is of course pretty much well known through blade making history.

The tegha is indeed intented as a heavier bladed weapon and is, as in this case, more associated with the Deccan into the northwest regions. I would presume this to be a Rajput weapon despite the umbrella which is typically regarded nominally to Mughal context.

The circled dot marking seems to be added to the umbrella in some augmenting manner or embellishment rather than having key symbolic meaning. It may be considered a solar representation which is often significant in Rajput context in association with symbolism concerning the clans, solar, lunar, fire etc.

The use of textiles on weapons is often used in auspicious manner, and colors were keenly used in accord with significant meanings in Rajput context. These are often well explained in Robert Elgood's work as well.
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Old 12th December 2020, 03:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Elgood, in his most recent book about Jodhpur armory has a special chapter about the umbrella mark.
They were put left and right to signify royal ownership, with which they had nothing in common. They might have been put later in sword’s life, but also by the original master. In retrospect, such forgeries are benign, silly and naive, and just add some human touch. I would not hesitate to hang this sword on my wall.
And overall, it is a very fine sword.
Thank you, Ariel for your comment, as always much appreciated.
Personally the most enjoyable part of collecting ethnographic antiques is the hours of research I get from almost every item I purchase. Most things I will eventually find in my books or on the Internet. But then there are things like this strange mark. And the ring of dots. Why? At some point I accept that at this point in time there is no answer and move on. I do however always enjoy the journey.

I also found a sword with similar fabric on the handle. That one is a documented battle sword, maybe it served to better the grip during battle
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Old 12th December 2020, 07:40 PM   #7
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For some reason this mark reminds of those enigmatic comet or shooting-star type marks occasionally found on Sudanese kaskara blades ...
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Old 12th December 2020, 08:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
For some reason this mark reminds of those enigmatic comet or shooting-star type marks occasionally found on Sudanese kaskara blades ...
Well observed Colin!! In is that same convention it is likely intended, or at least its inspiration was. It is often hard to say when such markings are copied by subsequent makers as they often apply such marks without realizing the original intent, and replicate them to add desirability to the blade.

We have still never really figured out those markings on kaskara, which are profoundly enigmatic. Its always fascinating to see the many well thought out ideas many have entered on these, many quite compelling.
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Old 13th December 2020, 03:28 AM   #9
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AFAIK, the word “ tegha” stems from “tigh”, i.e. just “ sword” :-)
I can’t recall mentioning its ability to cut through cloth armor.
Bent baluster suggests 17th century.

The “ wings” of the handle undoubtedly owe their existence to the Khanda handle, and it in turn stems from the “ old Indian basket” encountered on old Southern swords.

My guess ( a guess, no more) that we may me talking of a Mahratta/ Deccan as a nexus of that construction: Northern Mughal curved blade and a Southern- inspired handle.

Real ch’hattra ( umbrella sign) was always very simple and compact, with no embellishments. This one has circles with dots, a crescent base etc. that look rather vulgar. Those are indications of a spurious marking, kind of “ too much to be true” phenomenon.

But decorations aside, the worth of a sword is in its fighting ability and I have very little doubt that it could perform admirably in the hour of need.

I have never encountered( or just cannot remember) another Indian sword with such fabric wrappings. But your example of a similar one indicates a somewhat more widespread use. You might be correct: some people just felt that it improved their grasp.

Last edited by ariel; 13th December 2020 at 04:13 AM.
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Old 13th December 2020, 06:13 PM   #10
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Many thanks for your comments. It would be nice if the sword is actually older than I thought, often it is the other way around.
Anyways, I have new theory what the mark is. Ariel mentioned Rajput Arms and Armor by Elgood, and the chapter about umbrella marks. I have the book (very heavy, good read) so I read that part again. Elgood writes:

"In India the state umbrella was believed to be the abode of the goddess Lakshmi"

So I googled Lakshmi, she sits on a bed of lotus petals. Some times with an umbrella or/and a pointy hat.

I think the anchor shaped part of the sword mark is representing the bed of lotus. The rings with dots could represent lotus flowers. I added some pictures of paintings of the goddess I tried to find old examples. What do you think?
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Old 14th December 2020, 02:35 AM   #11
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Very interesting. I never thought of that angle.
But .... where is Lakshmi?

Last edited by ariel; 14th December 2020 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 28th December 2020, 01:30 PM   #12
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Hi,
Although not the same one of the markings on this Kora of mine exhibits some similarities with the one on the sword in question.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 4th January 2021, 11:53 PM   #13
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Default Fabric On Hilt

I've found an image to add to the group of swords with fabric or leather around part of the hilt. It's on p89 of

Asiatische Blankwaffen
Asian Edged Weapons

Deutsches Klingenmuseum Solingen

(Barbara Grotkamp-Schepers & Maximilian Berkel)

This pulouar seems to have a similar dark wrap around part of the hilt.
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