Place of Origin: North India (Lahore?)
Date: Circa 1800
Overall: 850mm (32.5 inches)
This sword is re-published here following exciting new research. It was originally published in the PDF catalogue that accompanied the author’s exhibition at Fine Art Asia, 30th September–3rd October 2017. Object number 11.1
This rare Indian sosun patah sword has a slender iron hilt covered with fine gold koftgari in a highly unusual arrangement of stylised swastikas within two concentric circles. All set against a dotted background.
The elegant downward curved T-section blade is forged from fine wootz (jawhar) steel. These highly sought-after and important swords are often forged from the best quality steel and this example shows dark (kirk) wootz with contrasting silver and black circles and spirals. The contemporary wooden scabbard is covered with ornately tooled black leather and is fitted with a decorated brass chape.
The design of the hilt perfectly matches an artwork in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston which depicts a sword handle dated to about 1800, possibly from Lahore (accession number 17.2691)2 . The artwork, which was purchased by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy in India in 1916, not only shows a hilt that matches this example in shape, but also offers identical decoration—even down to the finer details like the differing orientations of the swastikas. It is highly likely that the two objects have a direct relationship with one another.
A recent exhibition held at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry, England, entitled Crafts of the Punjab (20th October 2017–21st January 2018) displayed a set of armour belonging to the Victoria and Albert Museum which had a similar swastika pattern to this sword, albeit rendered in a more stylised and symmetrical form. This was also thought to have been made in Lahore in the 19th century3.