Origin: Rajasthan (India)
Date: 19th century
Materials: Gold, Wootz Steel, Wood and Velvet
A very fine example of a Jodhpur Tulwar with Wootz blade.
Typically, most in the west will refer to the Indian Sword as simply a Tulwar (often spelled as Talwar or Tulvar). Tulwar in its simplistic form is used to describe a one-edged sword from the Indian subcontinent. This description originates from the Sanskrit word ‘Taravari’. The Tulwar could be utilised by either cavalry or infantry. The talwar or talvār (Hindi) is the archetypical saber of India. These were used both as weapons and status symbols. The ones used for status were distinguished through their design, use of gold work and other ornamental additions.
This tulwar’s hilt-form – with its rectangular langets, near-flattened quillons, and centrally swollen grip – is typical of those made during the reign of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II and is commonly referred to as the Jodhpur type. The disc pommel has been finished with an elaborate sunburst design (likely a nod to Surya, the sun-god that many Rajputs claim descent from), which is bordered by an Devangari inscription. The remaining surface of the hilt is then overlaid in gold with a symmetrical trellis of flowerheads and winding tendrils. The gold is 99% in tact on the hilt which is very scarce. Having gold koftgari on this type of hilt is not common at all, in fact, its the only example on the open market we have encountered. This type of hilt and gold koftgari design is usually done by using silver. The hilt is larger than usual, especially the langets, leading this to be made specific individual. This leads us to believe that this particular tulwar was specially commissioned for an important individual.
The blade is of thick and heavy section and exhibits its original watered steel finish and a scarf weld – a common feature on Rajput swords which was considered auspicious and locally referred to as a ‘mala’ (a sacred thread). The wootz pattern is consistent and prominent throughout the entire length of the blade - a real fighting blade without fault.
The sword is furthermore accompanied by its original scabbard which is covered in a saffron-coloured velvet, a colour which the Rajputs linked with war and martyrdom.
There is a lengthy inscription on the pommel of the sword. It is Sanskirt but as it is done in gold koftgari it is difficult to assess in some cases. We have broken it down below and provided a inscription of what is translatable. Some terms have been added so that the english sentences flow for better reading. These have been added in’’.
‘With the protection of Sri Sita Ram Ji. With your blessings [let this sword] cut of the evil heads [of our enemy] like [Ram cut] Raavan. So lead us to victory. This [victory] cannot be prevented; it is fixed [by the gods]!’
This is a clear invocation by the owner of the sword asking for protection. This was a common feature amongst specially commissioned swords. There are still some parts not translated, but it is most likely the name of the owner.
‘A comparandum which also shows a hilt of the Jodhpur type and stylistic features typical of the master smith Muhammad Ibrahim was published by Runjeet Singh in The Goddess: Arms and Armour of the Rajputs – London 2018 (Cat. No. 15). 10’
Our example was published in Arts of Oriental Warrior - Paris (2020), a catalogue published to accompany Runjeet's 3rd exhibition as part of Parcours des Mondes, Paris. (Pages 18-19)
This Tulwar presents its high quality, status and very good condition, while retaining the original blade finish and quality. A specially commissioned sword, a clear status symbol for an important individual, with fighting qualities. A great addition for collectors interested in adding the finest of tulwars to their collection.