Fine Kutch horse head shamshir
Overall length

Sheathed 88.7 cm

Sword 84.9 cm

Blade length

73 cm

Blade thickness

Base 4.5 mm

Middle 3 mm

5 cm from tip 1.5 mm

Blade width

Base 31 mm

Middle 25 mm

5 cm from tip 15 mm

Weight

643 grams

Point of balance

12.8 cm

(To center crossguard)

Materials

Wootz steel, wood, textile, resin, copper, gold, various precious stones

Origin

Kutch, Gujarat

North India

Dating

Late 18th to early 19th century

Price on request

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Description

A fine Indian saber with shamshir blade and gilt copper hilt with horse head pommel. The blade is deeply curved, of Persian style, but with Indian style ricasso and flat spine. It is made of fine-grained wootz steel.

 

Hilt

It has an Indian talwar-style hilt with langets and quillons, made of gilt copper alloy. The pommel is an elegantly shaped horse head, very detailed down to the ears and glass eyes with black pupils. The hilt is further decorated with glass "gems" of a wide range of shades and colors.

 

Fine horse head hilt

 

Contrary to today, glass and especially colored glass could be very expensive in pre-industrial societies. Some glass wares were valuable imports from places like Belgium.

The scabbard is made of wood, covered with red silk velvet, its pile now mostly worn. It is fitted with six gilt copper mounts and its seems top and bottom are covered with gilt copper strips. All the gilding was done by means of fire gilding, resulting in a much thicker layer of gold than would be produced by modern methods.

All scabbard mounts are decorated with floral motifs in relief, this and the scabbard's strips are all typical for work produced in Kutch where this sword is undoubtedly from.

 

Condition/restoration

The blade is with patches of corrosion, too deep to polish out. The velvet scabbard covering has lost most of its pile. The ears of the horse were flattened when I got it, I had them straightened back by Haarlemse Zilversmederij K.H. Schermerhorn, Hofleverancier. (Purveyor to the Dutch court). Small cracks to wood at scabbard's mouth. See photos.

Cracks scabbard mouth

 

 

Comparable examples

A very rare type of saber that knows only few comparables. One is published in, where else, Robert Hales; Oriental Arms and Armour, a lifetime passion. Page 167. Its a very nice piece, but I believe this piece here is better. You be the judge; here they are compared.

Kutch horse head shamshir compared

 

Two others came from Carlton House, the former residence of King George IV, who later moved to Buckingham Palace. The Carlton House provenance means they were collected before 1820, and their relatively early entry on the list (1224) suggests they may even have been collection quite some time before that. Later they were moved to the Windsor Castle North Corridor inventory. No further provenance information is on record.

They are now kept under RCIN 62525 and RCIN 62525.2b.

 

Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration
Fine Kutch shamshir with gilt horse head pommel and glass gem decoration

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