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Place of Origin: DECCAN, INDIA

Date: First Half of the 17th Century

Overall: 790mm (31 inches)

Reference: 321

Status: Sold

Full Description:

A fine and well-preserved example of the Indian sword-type known as a ‘tegha’, the massive blade thought by some to suggest that these swords were typically used for executions (though there is little evidence to support such a claim).

The crossguard of the heavy steel hilt is inlaid in silver koftgari with a spray of blossoming poppy flowers amidst foliage, their details picked out with fine delineation and the arrangement bordered by a continuous row of small circles. The stylised floral langets and trefoil foliate quillons reflect the decorative style which spreads throughout the rest of the hilt: the grip is decorated en suite with the crossguard and the gently recurved hand guard is decorated over its surface with further silver koftgari leaves, terminating in a makara-head finial. The tilted disc-shaped pommel is covered with further poppy flowers, the central domed boss on its underside carved around its edges to present the form of a three-dimensional flowerhead. The centre is further fitted with a pierced circular bracket for suspension.

The large but graceful curved blade is forged from wootz steel, exhibiting excellent preservation and a tight watered pattern. The first section of its length shows a mark over is surface and is single-edged before the back-edge of the blade is cut inwards, the central section then double-edged and slender before the blade returns to its original single-edged section and tapers to a large tip. Finally, along a small section of the back-edge is a dedicatory inscription in silver that reads: “Presented to E.A. Clissold by S. Holder Esquire.” The blade was likely given to Clissold as part of a military ceremonial gesture.

An enamelled katar in the Al-Sabah collection in Kuwait shows similar floral work to this sword, Kaoukji noting that such patterns can themselves be compared to those depicted in the page-borders of albums assembled during the reigns of Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan.[1]

[1] Salam Kaoukji, Precious Indian Weapons and other Princely Accoutrements: the al-Sabah Collection, Thames & Hudson, 2017, Nos. 8 & 9, pp. 48-51.


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