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Shikargah Tulwar

Place of Origin: RAJASTHAN

Date: 19th Century

Overall Length: 905mm

Reference: 233

Status: Reserved

Full Description:

The style of gold ornamentation on this tulwar’s hilt is reminiscent of the work produced in Sirohi, Rajasthan. Roaming leaves and stems bloom into flowers here and there, while neat borderlines enclose this foliage and give the hilt greater visual definition.

The single-edged blade is made from much sought-after wootz and the currents of carbon can be seen playing within the bright steel. Also visible is the junction where the two billets used to make the blade meet—the so-called scarf weld. The Rajputs coveted this feature and named it the mala, considering it to be an auspicious symbol much like the red string some of them tied upon their wrists.

Just as this sword shows high levels of craftsmanship, so too does the impressive scabbard. This has been made from a wooden core covered in silver which has been manipulated through repoussage and chasing to depict floral motifs and a variety of hunting (shikargah) scenes. These scenes are rendered in a style redolent of that made in Kutch and are often most dramatic. Ferocious big cats fight to the death while horsemen close upon wild boars—their hound or spear ready to deliver the killing blow; elephants and dancers perform as hunters emerge silently from the foliage to stalk their unseen prey. One particularly interesting scene shows a fighter thrusting his katar into the belly of an attacking lion just as it sinks its teeth into his shoulder. In between all of this theatre, wild flowers spread their petals boldly and large leaves curl and intertwine with smaller ones.

Similar hunting scenes are illustrated as line drawings in the 1883 work by Hendley, Memorials of the Jeypore Exhibition[1], and described as outlines of ornaments on a silver tea service, engraved by Nund Kishore, Jeypore, and by Pani Lal, Ulwar. In the same publication is a gilt-brass and niello sword scabbard with similar decorations to our scabbard and this is said to be from the armoury of His Highness the Maharaja of Jeypore[2].

 

[1] T. H. Hendley, Memorials of the Jeypore Exhibition, London, 1883, pl.XXXVII.

[2] T. H. Hendley, Memorials of the Jeypore Exhibition, London, 1883, pl.IX.