Indian Hunting Sword
Place of Origin: Trichinpoloy, Tamil Nadu, India
Date: Circa 1860
This most unusual Indian hunting sword hails from Trichinpoloy (known as Tiruchirappalli today)—an ancient city in the state of Tamil Nadu that was once a French concession of South India and later one of the most important cities under the British Raj. The sword boasts a rare, opulent and ambitious application of Trichinpoloy silver, the silversmiths having incorporated the ‘swami’ style of Madras to develop this unique fashion of dense and fine relief work.
Heavily mounted with the silver, the sword features a straight, partially double-edged blade that terminates in a sharp, central point. The cross-guard concludes on each side with a makara head. The lavishly decorated grip shows a variety of interesting subjects, all beautifully rendered. Look for: an elephant dressed for a procession; a large depiction of Saraswati, goddess of music, art and knowledge riding a peacock; the Trichinpoloy hill fort with flag aloft; Shiva as Nataraja; Matsya the fish god as an incantation of Vishnu; and finally Lord Krishna resting on a Nandi cow, playing his flute. Capping the pommel is a further ornamented elephant, striding within an oval frame.
The wooden scabbard is covered in worn green silk. Flowers and foliage provide a backdrop for the flamboyantly decorated silver repoussé that shows Hindu scenes of mythology and the architecture of Trichinpoloy. The scabbard is mounted with a throat-piece decorated with floral patterns, a central V-shaped mount with similar decorations, and a chape with a Trichinpoloy temple in a typical ‘Trikula’ tiered arrangement on one side and another architectural design on the other (perhaps depicting an inner building with columns either side and steps leading to three arches).
Provenance: American private collection.