Language: Hindi


Aṅkus (अंकुस) comes from the Sanskrit word aṅkuśa (अङ्कुश) means "elephant goad". It is a hooked instrument with a sharp spearhead-like point. They were used by the mahout (the keepers, trainers, and drivers of elephants) to control elephants.

A south Indian ankus

A small South Indian aṅkus. Probably ceremonial.
Sold by Mandarin Mansion in 2019.

Elephants were expensive, only those of considerable wealth could afford them. They were also important and dangerous assets in the field. Those who controlled them well were of considerable importance to rulers and trusted with important tasks during processions, hunting, and warfare. 

The importance of the aṅkus is underscored by the fact that the finest example of South Indian metalwork known in the world is not a sword, but indeed, an aṅkus. Now in the Bostom Museum of Fine Arts. It was said to have been in the collection of the Maharaja of Mysore, India. Sold by Spink and Sons, Ltd., London, to the MFA in 1995.

MFA Ankus

The aforementioned aṅkus in the Bostom Museum of Fine arts, , accession number 1995.11.
Image © Reproduced under fair use.


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Its decoration consists of fantastic designs of various animals, mythical and existing.


With markings attributing it to Jalore.


Chiseled with a rare type of decor on the base, and with two Islamic inscriptions.


With great sculptural qualities.


A heavy Indian katar with substantial armor piercing blade.


With a hilt that is of typical southern form, with a cupped base and langets.

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