Date: 19th century
Materials: Pattern Welded Steel, Silver, Wood and Velvet
An interesting tulwar with a Rajasthani hilt and pattern welded (skela) blade
This example is true to the traditional regional design of Rajasthan. The steel hilt is anointed with a thick application of silver overlay. The design throughout is consistent, and represents nature as it shows tendrils, flowers and birds; elegant and appealing to the eye. The silver overlay is almost 100% intact. The silver work is crisply executed with fine attention paid to the details. The underside of the pommel disk also features a fine inscription in Devangari. The pommel features a pommel spike, often used for striking. The pommel disk features a fine Surajvanshi (sun-burst) design, which is of Suryavansh origin. Suryavansh are of the Rajput dynasties and link their lineage to ‘Surya’ who is the Sun God. Suryavansha is mentioned in classical Indian texts like the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The blade is of a nice build and is of pattern welded steel, or Skela, as it is referred to in India. The blade is showing an active watering pattern of nice contract. The blade shows age and has a nice edge - it is evident this was a 'fighting blade'. It is likely that this blade is a later marriage to the hilt (which was actually a common practice in India).
Accompanying the sword is a modern scabbard wrapped in an orange fabric with steel chape.
INSCRIPTION, ATTRIBUTION & DATING
Under the pommel disk, the inscription reads
Shri Baldevji Sahay
This means ‘With the protection of Shri Baldev ji’. This invocation is to a deva (deity), possibly ‘Baladeva’ (deity of strength and agriculture), the brother of Krishna, who is seen as one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. Interestingly, this very inscription is also on a Shield (Dhal) held at the V&A Museum. According to the V&A, that particular Shield was Given by the Right Hon. the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum. That shield belonged to a Maharao Ram Singh of Kotah - who was often referred to as Ram Singh of Kotah. The shield at the V&A is attributed to c1840. Inscriptions on arms and armour were very valued in the 18/19th century and were utilised to show to whom or which region/clan it belonged to.
The second part of the inscription is hard to decipher, but it includes:
Kramank means 'number', so this is an issue or inventory number.
Overall a very good example of a Rajasthani tulwar. The tulwar is in a good state of preservation; the silver overlay 90% intact and the pattern welded blade is showing an active pattern.
Further readings/referenced materials:
G.N. Pant Indian Arms and Armour, vol. II. p79
Th. H. Hendley. Memorials of the Jaypore Exhibition, 1883. p1