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Bhuj

Place of Origin: KUTCH

Date: 19th Century

Overall Length: 545mm

Reference: 240

Status: Sold

Full Description:

These polearms almost always originate from the town of Bhuj in Kutch, India, and that name has now become synonymous with them amongst collectors and researchers[1]. This particular bhuj is an outstanding example of its kind: splendidly ornamented and in excellent condition. Its blade’s distinctive shape is typical of these weapons and designed to administer both cuts and thrusts to any enemy unfortunate enough to oppose it. Made from polished steel, the wide blade has a silver-gilt panel applied to both sides and these show flowers and leaves framed within a simple border. At its base resides an elephant’s head, sculpted with great care to present to us many minute details and finished with a generous covering of gold. The animal’s eyes are deep red crystals that have been set on a foil backing in order to catch the light and provide greater lustre, as are the stones that sit in the centre of the two paterae atop its head.

This head sits on a long, steel shaft that has more foliate decorations rendered in silver for its entire length.

Echoing the jewelled opulence found in the elephant’s head is the pommel. This has been just as elaborately decorated and is, in fact, quite rare due to this; with more gilding and crystals resplendent beneath a bud finial. The entire pommel can also be unscrewed from the shaft to reveal a slender dagger.

This bhuj also retains its original scabbard—a rare bonus. It is made from gilt-copper and shows embossed sunflowers curling amid multifoil arches, all set against a stippled ground. The effect is one of rich texture. Small diamond-shaped flowers grow along a border that leads the eye towards the scabbard’s tip where a cluster of leaves provides structural reinforcement. A further border, this time with a series of flutes, introduces the scabbard’s mouth and has been expertly shaped to nestle into the contours of the elephant’s head.

For a similar bhuj, though lacking the gemmed pommel and silver elements, please see the book Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India by Kajal Meghani.[2]

 

[1] R. Elgood, Arms & Armour at the Jaipur Court: The Royal Collection, Niyogi Books, 2015, p.141.

[2] K. Meghani, Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India, 1875–6, Royal Collection Trust, 2017, p.146.