North Indian Shamshir
Date: 19th century
Materials: Steel and Silver
A rare Shamshir most likely associated with the Lahore (Sikh) Empire.
The hilt on this sword has been, generously, and graciously, overlaid with multi-petalled flowerheads in silver. The application of the silver is thick, with 90% in tact throughout the hilt. The style of work in silver is without doubt typical of tulwars made towards the end of the Sikh Empire (1799-1849) in the Punjab workshops. The hilt comprises langets with lotus-head outlines, domed quillons, and a centrally swollen grip. A knuckle guard with animal-head terminal recurves toward the disc-pommel which has been attached with a pointed sunburst plaque, a decorative feature further fitted at its centre with a lightly fluted dome and lotus bud finial.
There are clear indications that this particular hilt is of Punjab manufacture: (1) the fat vase shape of the grip section, (2) the slightly forward angle of the quillons and (3) the floral style of silver koftgari. The hilt is of larger than average proportions and fits comfortably in the hand.
The blade of considerable size, yet slender, and good quality is fitted to the hilt and could possibly be of wootz - this can only be revealed through a professional etch, polish and cleaning of the blade. We have chosen not to do this to keep the historical integrity of the sword and its age.
The blade shape is purely Persian, of shamshīr (شمشیر) form with a narrow, pointy blade of deep curvature. Such blades are ideal for close-quarters cutters, with the deep curve helping it target specific places that normal swords could not attach. The type of blade is a referred to as a ‘goliya’ (meaning round) in India. The blade is a practical one, with indications that it was used in battle.
For a hilt with near identical work, see the sword of Maharaja Ranjit Singh held at the Amritsar Museum (image attached - Gold work tulwar). Notice the flowers and tendrils and their layout. Both are very similar with the same layout.
A Similar Hilt is held at the Cleveland Museum of Art
All in all a nice sword!