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Place of Origin: Mughal Dominions or Deccan, India

Date: Mid-to-late 17th Century

Overall: 925mm

Blade: 755mm

Reference: 528

Status: Available

Full Description:

The steel hilt of this magnificent sword (tulwar) is decorated in an unusual but effective reverse manner. Heavily applied gold forms the ground and floral silhouettes of darkened steel are left bare to then be finished with more precise gold details. Although the shape of the hilt provides subtle clues to the date of this sword, it is the undeniably Mughal and Deccani floral theme that ultimately characterises it.

The long, sweeping curved blade is made of jawhar steel, also referred to as wootz or Damascus steel. It is of seventeenth-century Persian manufacture. An inlaid gold cartouche is filled with the name of the bladesmith:

 عمل میر علی اصفہانے

It reads, ‘Made by (amal) Mir Ali Isfahani.’ The use of Isfahani indicates that the maker is from the Persian city of Isfahan – an area synonymous with sword-making excellence.

An astonishingly similar katar can be found in the Al-Sabah collection.1 The same reverse gold decoration reveals identical iris blossoms and leaves overturned on their tips. This alone could make a strong enough case to suggest that these two items were made in the same workshop. However, both objects also share a more intricate detail; one that shows it is not just a copied pattern but rather a consistent theme. The edges of both katars hilts have a repeating four-petalled flower head enclosed within double crescents. This detail is mirrored on the mogra, the small bulbous button that crowns the pommel disc of the hilt of our sword. The pattern is repeated on the edges of the nath; the hinged loop that is attached to the mogra for a wrist loop. The identical decoration on both objects provides a motive to confidentially state that they were decorated at the same time, in the same workshop, and almost certainly by the same hand. Another assumption might be that they were made as a garniture and then later separated.

The overall floral theme can be seen on yet another seventeenth-century Deccani or Mughal sword in the Al-Sabah collection with what also looks like a Persian blade.2 The hilt on this sword is decorated in enamel but the theme is comparable, and the shape of the iris blossoms and leaves can be compared closely with the sword in focus.

The scabbard of this sword is a later addition that has an English inscription. It is made of black leather, with copper mounts, all having traces of gilding. The top locket is marked thus:


Sword Cutler 

to H.R.H the

Prince of Wales


Charing Cross


Samuel Brunn was a leading royal sword cutler and gun maker to the Prince of Wales.3 He was ‘By appointment to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales from 1800 to 1811’ and ‘to the Prince Regent from 1811 to 1820’.4 An important sword relating to the Napoleonic wars is currently in the Royal Museums Greenwich and bears an almost identical mark on the top locket.5 On that sword, the address is recorded as no.55 Charing Cross, where Brunn was active from 1798 to 1804. The address found on our scabbard is no.56, where Brunn was active between 1803 and 1819.

My thanks to Henry Yallop, Royal Armouries for the Brunn references.


Private UK collection


1Salam Kaoukji, Precious Indian Weapons and Other Princely Accoutrements, 2017, pp.78-79,

2IBID, pp.290-291,

3L.Southwick, London Silver-hilted Swords, Royal Armouries 2001, pp.58-59.

4Swords for sea service by May, W.E; Annis, P.G.W. Publisher: London HMSO 1970, 2 volumes, pp.271.



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