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Place of Origin: SOUTHERN INDIA

Date: 16th or Early 17th Century

Overall Length: 520mm (20 ½ Inches)

Reference: 344

Status: Sold

Full Description:

The refined craftsmanship of this rare spearhead is best appreciated upon close examination. A large iron washer pierced with two concentric circles of small holes forms the base, above which the tubular socket comprises four bulbous mouldings alternating with silvered bands, all chiselled throughout with rows of recurrent geometric patterns and floral motifs.

The double-edged, gently curving blade is then intricately chiselled at the forte on each face with a symmetrical composition of opposing makara that exhibit large, curved fangs and stepped scales which have been cleverly cut to mimic the ridged texture of the mythological serpents’ skin. A central lotus design separates the creatures and repeats in miniature at the base of the blade’s deep-cut arrowhead fullers.

As explained in Dr. Ravinder Reddy’s recent study, “Southern [Indian] spearheads tended to be weighty, straight or curved, adorned with chiselled mythological beasts and generally with no gold but sometimes with silver plate.”[1] A spear remarkably similar to the present example has been illustrated in another recent publication, The Hindu Warrior (2019), a work by friend and client Roy Elvis.[2] Robert Elgood’s discussion of these spearhead-types points to further comparanda that are preserved in important museums and collections, and observes that “the iconography also relates to the ornate Nāyaka style of the time.”[3] The Nayaks – renowned for their intricate artworks and spectacular architecture – formed a dynasty in Southern India after the collapse of the Vijayanagar Empire, and ruled from the 16th to 18th centuries.


UK art market

[1] Ravinder Reddy, Arms & Armour of India, Nepal & Sri Lanka: Types, Decoration and Symbolism, Hali Publications Ltd (2019), p. 110.

[2] Roy Elvis, The Hindu Warrior (2018), p. 381.

[3] Robert Elgood, Hindu Arms and Ritual: Arms and Armour from India 1400-1865, Eburon Academic Publishers, Delft (Netherlands), p. 194.


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