Basket Hilt Shamshir
Origin: India (possibly Deccan)
Date: 18th/19th century
Materials: Steel, Wootz, wood and cotton
A large Hindu Basket Hilt Shamshir of large proportions with a fine quality Wootz blade.
THE BASKET HILT
The hilt of the typical Hindu basket hilt of larger than average proportions. It's made of steel, and entirely constructed by forging and chiseling (no casting). At the end of the disc-pommel is a long, curved spike with a flower bud shaped finial. The spike is also larger than usual, providing a large and adequate space for two hand use. Also, it would give extra protection of the lower arm. The hilt throughout is chiselled and pierced with intricate cuts to provide a fine boarder along the edges of the hilt. On its own, the hilt is simple, and in this lies its history and beauty. The larger than average proportions and chiselled design indicate that this was a functional sword, to be utilised in combat, rather than serving a decorative purpose for court wear.
The blade is forged of Wootz, with a tight grain pattern throughout the entire length of the blade. The wootz is consistent, with a good contrast and repetitive swirls. Wootz was made in a crucible and highly prized due to the process of making it and also its qualities, primarily hardness and toughness. For most collectors, the visual beauty of Wootz is what makes it worth collecting. The process of making wootz was guarded by smiths and was not a skill of the masses and the art died in the 19th century. Arms and Armour created using Wootz are thus of high quality and such arms are therefore very sought after due the scarcity and desirable nature of such metal. The blade is of a ‘shamshir’ type. A shamshir (Persian: شمشیر) is a type of Persian/Iranian sword with a radical curve. The name is derived from the shamshīr, which means "lion's claw or lions tale" in the Persian language. In India, the term ‘Goliya’ (meaning circle) was used to describe these types of blades; referring to its curve. Towards the forte, there is even a ‘scarf weld’, which was a common feature on Rajput swords. This was considered ‘talismanic’ (or auspicious) and was referred to as a ‘mala’ (term used for sacred prayer thread) by Indians.
This example is accompanied with a new made scabbard, wrapped in a floral cotton fabric.
Overall, this is a very good example of a Basket hilt Shamshir (or Goliya) with a tight grain Indian Wootz steel. The larger proportions show this a functional sword, which is a nice change from the usual decorative examples. A great addition for seasoned and intermediate collectors.