South Indian ankus head
Overall length

77 cm

Head

Length 21 cm

Width 19 cm

Weight

501 grams

Materials

Iron

Origin

South India

Dating

17th or 18th century

Provenance

From the collection of Han Hendriks 1919-2008.

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Introduction

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.

Elephants were expensive, and 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 aṅkus, in that sense, was as much as a tool as an emblem of rank.

For more, see my glossary article: Aṅkus (अंकुस)

 

This example

A tanged head of an ankus with spearhead and hook, on a chiseled iron base.The spearhead and hook both with four grooves on either side. The spearhead emerges from a bird-bodied yali, a mythical south Indian creature. The hook is the tail of another bird-bodied yali. Both pointed ends have reinforced tips.

The head is mounted on a long tang with a threaded butt end. The whole was once probably mounted on a wooden shaft, with a pommel screwed at the bottom.

South Indian or Deccan, 17th to early 18th century.

 

Provenance

The piece comes from Han Hendriks (1919-2008), a notable Dutch blacksmith with a forge in the Balistraat, The Hague. He kept a study collection of antique ironwork from around the world, some of which I have been able to purchase from his descendants.

South Indian ankus head
South Indian ankus head
South Indian ankus head
South Indian ankus head
South Indian ankus head
South Indian ankus head

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