Early Indian talwar
This item has been sold.
Overall length

88.4 cm

Blade length

77.7 cm 

(tip to center crossguard)

Blade thickness

Base 10 mm

Middle 7 mm

Start backedge 6 mm

5 cm from tip 2.5 cm

Blade width

Base 32 mm

Middle 25 mm

Start backedge 31 mm

5 cm from tip 22 mm

Weight

816 grams

Point of balance

20 cm

(From center crossguard)

Materials

Iron, steel, old, resin

Origin

North India

Dating

Blade 16th - early 17th century

Hilt 17th - 18th century

Provenance

A British private collection

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Introduction

The Mughal Empire was founded by Babur in 1526 and lasted to 1857. Babur was of notable pedigree, born in what is now Uzbekistan he could trace his ancestry on his father's side back to Timur, and on his mother's side to no less than Ghengis khan. Through intermarriage, the Mughals soon also mixed with Persian and Rajput ancestry. 

Early Mughal sabers much resemble older steppe patterns, with narrow but thick blades with a prominent backedge. The main difference with early steppe sabers is their increased curve, a trend seen throughout the Islamic world. Such swords have increased cutting power at the expense of the thrust, and was most likely caused by less reliance on armor due to the more widespread adoption of firearms.

 

This example

A beautiful example of an early Indian blade in very good condition. It has a narrow but thick blade with an elegant curve and a raised backedge, all reminiscent of earlier steppe sabers. Both sides are hollow ground for better handling, with a narrow groove running along the spine. The spine is flat, and the first portion of the blade is not sharpened, both typical features of Indian-made talwar. The blade is very tightly forged showing a lively burl pattern. 

There is a crescent-shaped stamp at the base on the left side, probably a maker's stamp. 

 

Inscription

 

A partially faded inscription in old Persian, the Mughal court language, is on the spine. It is barely legible, but very similar to a longer inscription on an important talwar in an anonymous private collection. Our inscription closely matches a segment on that piece, which helped to work out the writing as follows:

ﺍﻳﻥﺸﻣﺸﻳﺭﺗﻳﺯﺁﻫﻰﻧﻣﻭﺩﺍﺳﺕﺗﻳﻎﺣﺎﺻﻞﺳﺭﻓﺭﺍﺯﻯ
In šamšir tiz āhi nemud ast tiq hāsel sarfarāzi

"This sharp sword is a symbol of glory"

ﺠﻼﺍﻠﺩﻳﻦﺍﻛﺑﺭﺸﺎﻩﻏﺎﺯﻯ
Jalālel Din Akbar Šāh Qāzi

"Jalālel Din Akbar Shāh, the warrior"

-Translation provided by Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani. 
The other sword was published on jugasingh.com but has since been taken down.

 

Significance

The reference piece is believed to have been one of the personal swords of Emperor Akbar who ruled between 1542-1605. The quality of the inscription on our talwar here is inferior in execution, so it goes too far to say it belongs to that same group. It was probably a later dedication to Akbar.

That said, the style of the blade is correct for the period, say the late 16th to early 17th century. The quality of the forging is very good and consistent with other high-quality Mughal swords, indicating it was probably made for a person of note within the Mughal realm.

 

Hilt

It comes with a graceful talwar hilt with prominent thickening in the grip, disc pommel with upturned rim, and dome on top. It is decorated with  floral designs in bold gold overlay, with the actual floral designs being in the negative space. This is usually a sign of earlier work, in the 19th century the trend went towards more gold with less negative space and somewhat less bold designs so I would date this to the late 17th to 18th centuries.

 

Condition

Blade: No flaws, pitting, cracks or chips, save from some indication of past sharpening that distorted the blade's arc a little. Hilt: In good condition for age, with some wear to the gold. See photos.

Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar
Early Mughal talwar

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