Language: Marathi
Source: Molesworth, 1857.


Māḍū (माडू) is a type of Indian double dagger that consists of two antelope horns connected together, often tipped with steel points. Many have a small shield as well, that looks like a miniature version of the Indian ḍhāl (ढाल).

They were used primarily by the Bhil people at least up until the 1880s, but also by beggars like yogi and fakirs. Alternative names in found in the literature are márú, maduvu and singauta.


Indian madu parrying weaponIndian madu parrying weapon



In the literature

The first mention of māḍū (माडू) is in James Thomas Molesworth's 1857 Marathi-English dictionary:

"A weapon formed of two iron-tipped antelope-horns so joined together as that their ends point outwards." 1

The word probably derives off the Marathi word māḍūḷa (माडूळ) / māḍhūḷa (माढूळ), defined as:

 1. A species of snake, Amphisbæna.
2. A worm with two heads or mouths.


The first mention of them I have been able to find is in W.F. Sinclair's List of weapons used in the Dakhan and Khandesh of 1873:

"Mâdû (M.): The stiletto of the Khandesh Bhills and other wild tribes, also a favourite weapon with Hindu religious beggars. It consists of a pair of horns of the gazelle (chinkara) set parallel, but with the steel-tipped points in opposite directions, and joined by two transverse bars. Is sometimes used in the left hand of a swordsman for guarding." 2

Mádú and márú first appear in Wilbraham Egerton's An Illustrated Handbook of Indian Arms of 1880, and passage is later re-published in the more famous Oriental Arms and Armour of 1890:

"434. Parrying shield; "Márú "Mádú," or
"Singauta" (Cf. Tayler Collection, South
Kensington Museum) ; consisting of a pair of
black buck antelope horns tipped with steel,
and united at their butt ends, where they are
held. Used by Bhils and Hindu Fakirs. Taken
at Lucknow. L. 2 ft. 11 in. (8748-'70)" 3


This piece is now in the Victoria & Albert Museum, under accession number: 3109(IS).

Egerton mentions five others in this work. In my words for ease of comparison:

690. Two antelope horns, tipped with steel and a small circular steel shield. 3 ft. Shield 8 inch diameter. Delhi. Cataloged 1855.

691. Two antelope horns, tipped with steel and a small circular steel shield with silver mounts. 3 ft. 6 in. Shield 8 inch diameter. Delhi.

692. Two antelope horns, tipped with steel and a small circular steel shield bossed and damascened with gold. 3 ft. 6 in. Shield 8 inch diameter. Punjab.

693. Two antelope horns, tipped with steel and a small circular brass shield with four bosses and a crescent. 2 ft. 9 inch. Shield 9 inch diameter. Benares, Uttar Pradesh. Cataloged 1855. 

694. Two black buck horns, tipped with steel, damascened with gold. Small circulars steel shield damascened with gold and bearing a large central gilt boss. Grooved dagger blade projecting from under the guard. Datia, Madhya Pradesh.

Richard Burton's The Book of the Sword of 1884 also covers them.4
The relevant pages from Burton:




Richard Burton on Madu


Burton mentions in footnote 4 that the catalog of the India Museum at South Kensington lists one as singhauta, which he thinks derives off the Hindi sīṅga (सींग), meaning "horn".

George Cameron Stone offers no new information but illustrates three of them.5

Madu in Stone


These are now all in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. See all madu in their database.


Notable examples

One of the best examples of its kind was presented to King Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, during his tour of India in 1875-76 by Bhavani Singh, Maharaja of Datia. It is housed in the Royal Collection Trust, accession number RCIN 38056.

It is a very large example, 105.2 cm long with a 20.5 cm shield. Both iron tips and the steel shield are damascened in gold.

Notice that #694 described by Egerton above is very similar, and also said to come from Datia.


1. James Thomas Molesworth; A dictionary, Marathi and English. 2nd Edition, revised and enlarged. Bombay: Printed for Government at the Bombay Education Society's Press, 1857. Page 642.

2. Lord Egerton of Tatton; Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour. Originally published in 1890. Dover Publications; Revised edition, 2002. Page 78.
3. Lord Egerton of Tatton; Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour. Originally published in 1890. Dover Publications; Revised edition, 2002. Page 133.
4. Sir Richard Francis Burton; The Book of the Sword. London, Chatto and Windus. 1884.
5. Stone, George C.; A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times. (Reprint) Jack Brussel, New York, 1961. Page 423.

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