Origin: India (Balasinor)
Date: 17th and 19th century
Materials: Steel and Gold
A very fine and important Firangi with Royal Provenance. The term firangi derives from the Arabic term ‘al- faranji’ to describe a Western European, therefore meaning Foreigner. The ‘Firangi’ referred to an Indian sword type which used blades manufactured in Western Europe, particularly Germany and imported by the Portuguese. Later, blade-smiths within India imitated the design of European Blades and joined them onto Tulwar or Khanda style Hilts. The foreign blades were used for their characteristics of being long fullered blades. Because of its length the firangi is usually regarded as primarily a cavalry weapon and is used for both thrusting and cutting. Though associated with the Marathas, who were famed for their cavalry the firangi was widely used by the Mughals and those who were under their rule during the 16th-18th century, including the Sikhs and Rajputs. There are various paintings of Mughal Royalty (such as Shah Jahan) holding firangis, suggesting that the Firangi became a symbol of martial virtue and power.
THE BLADE AND DATING
This beautiful and fine Firangi dates to c1828-1882. The Firangi is fitted with a 19th century hilt and a cleaned 17th century blade of period. It is likely that since this Firangi belonged to royalty, that the blade was generational, passed on through generations and kept with each ruler, while changing the hilt, which would explain why the blade is cleaned. The blade is double-edged, straight and double fullered, staying true to the original design and origin of the Firangi sword type. The steel blade is very tough and flexible which meant it was very durable for vigorous combat during the 19th century. Towards the forte of the blade there is a marking of three circles in the form of a triangle. There are two possible meanings to this marking on the blade. Firstly, it possible that the marking is referencing ‘Trimurti’. Trimūrti ("three forms") is the triple deity of supreme divinity in Hinduism, in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, typically Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. The second possibility is that it is a ‘killing mark’ often put on swords to signify its use in battle and having achieved ‘100 kills’.
GOLD KOFTGARI AND ITS INSCRIPTIONThe creator of this Firangi has created a very aesthetically appeasing visual by decorating the hilt in small chevrons and flower motifs. The forte has an asymmetric floral and lotus design which was popular amongst Mughal and Rajput rulers. The pommel has a prominent stalk, curved by design, to allow the wielder to grasp. The entire hilt including the knuckle-guard and panels are decorated with gold koftgari in floral form. Upon the pommel, there is an inscription in Devangari. The script reads:
Shri: Nawab Jorawar Khanji Bahadur
This Firangi therefore belonged to Nawab Jorawar Khanji Bahadur of the Babi Dynasty and sixth ruler of Balasinor (in Gujrat). The Babi Dynasty were the rulers of the Balasinor State, a state which was founded on 28 September 1758 by Pashtun ruler, Nawab, Sardar Muhammed khan Babi belonging to the family of last deputy Governor of Gujarat province in Mughal Empire. The rulers were titled Nawab Babi. The Babi dynasty or Babis or Babais are a community (Pashtun Tribe) in the Indian Subcontinent, originally of afghan Pashtun descent, now residing in India, largely. The community traces its origins to the dynasty founded in 1654 by Sherkhanji Babi (ruled 1654–1690). Members of this dynasty ruled over the princely states of Junagadh, Radhanpur and Balasinor, as well as the small states of Bantva Manavadar, Pajod and Sardargarh.
CONCLUSIONOverall a fantastic Firangi with rare Royal provenance, in good state of preservation and condition. It is rare for a sword to come with Royal provenance and still retain its inscription in full along with the intricate gold koftgari. The fullered blade is fit for purpose and adds a nice dynamic to the overall appeal and aesthetic to the sword. The basket hilt shows that this firangi had a very practical purpose and suitable/fit for combat.
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