Date: Late 18th century/early 19th century
Materials: Steel, Wootz, Wood, Cotton and Leather
An excellent example of Indias most infamous weapon, the Khanda.
The word khanda has its origins in the Sanskrit khaḍga(खड्ग), from a root khaṇḍ meaning "to break, divide, cut, destroy". The khanda is one of the oldest forms of the Indian swords, dating back as early as the 2nd century A.D. Traditionally, Khande are large, heavy, have double edged blades - which widen towards the tip. The weight of the Khanda allows for heavy cuts. Often, the blades are reinforced on a single edge. It was during the 17th century when basket hilts were developed and added to the Khanda to allow for better manoeuvring and hand protection.
There is significant iconography of the Khanda within the religions of the world. In Dharmic religions, such as Hinduism, the Khanda is represented as wisdom cutting through veil of ignorance. Hindu and Buddhist deities are often shown wielding or holding khanda sword in 18th/19th century art. For the Sikhs, the Khanda holds a high place, as it was the weapon of choice in the Amrit ceremony (often referred to as Khanda-Ki-Pahul (nectar of the double-edged sword) and welded by the likes of Baba Deep Singh, the famous Sikh Saint-Soldier.
This Khanda, most likely Rajput, has a very functional and practical purpose, which is expressed through its build and aesthetics. The hilt is large and of a typical ‘Hindu basket’ hilt, constructed entirely of steel. At the end of the pommel is the traditional long spike that would provide the capability to weld the khanda with two hands to allow for more control and cutting power. Though, it could also be used to deflect strikes and attack. The long spike is naturally curved with a bud finial and a beaded ring at the base of the spike.
The heavy, but well balanced blade, features a rounded tip which is typical of the patissa Khanda. The blade is entirely constructed of high quality Indian Wootz Steel, with a very attractive, vivid and crystallised finish (the pattern is of fine-grained wootz steel). Wootz steel is a crucible steel characterized by a pattern of bands and high carbon content. These bands are formed by sheets of microscopic carbides within a tempered martensite or pearlite matrix in higher carbon steel, or by ferrite and pearlite banding in lower carbon steels. The art of creating wootz has only survived in a number of people worldwide. Obtaining wootz of this quality has become very sought after and these items have become more scarce as the years have passed. The wootz steel blade of this Khanda is straight and widens towards the tip. There are two steel edge reinforcements, which are decorated in a floral manner. Towards the tip of the blade, 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.
The Khanda comes with two modern, period style scabbards. The first is constructed of wood with a simple black leather covering, whereas the second example is more ornate - with a fabric covering (matching the knuckle guard cushion) with a large steel chape at the bottom and top of the scabbard. The large chape of the scabbard brings the design of reinforced edge of the blade onto the sheath, which provides a great aesthetic appeal.
Overall, this is a very impressive and fine example of a functional Khanda. The workmanship of this Khanda is of real admiration - simple yet imposing. Khandas of this quality, especially with a wootz blade, are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, making this a great addition to any collection.
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