A pattern welded Khyber from Lahore
The ‘Khyber’ or ‘Salawar Yataghan’ is usually associated with Afghanistan and the tribes near the Khyber-pass region, but was also found in the region of Lahore.
Being mostly found without guard makes this Indian example with ‘Talwar’ hilt quite rare. The style of this ‘Khyber’ sword is typical for the Northern Indian Rajput reign.
Lahore region, Rajput period, Northern India (present day Pakistan) – 19th century
Materials: Steel, Gold, Wood, Velvet
A very fine type of ‘Khyber’ or also called ‘Seylaawa’ with an excellent quality blade and an Indian style gold koftgari ‘talwar’ hilt. It has its origin in the Lahore region and was made during the reign of the Rajput. Many of the Rajput were a warrior caste to whom arms and armour were considered as very important. The Lahore region had a long tradition of decorating the hilts with koftgari and gold damascening.
A characteristic ‘talwar’ hilt type with knuckle guard and two flaring quillons. The ‘Hakim shahi‘ hilt has a pronounced V shape where the grip merges into the crossbar. The pommel is slightly lopsided, which accommodates a firm grip. The disc shaped pommel has a small dome with fine decorated gold floral and diamond patterns.
The curved knucklebow depicts a ‘Makara’ head running out to the end. The blackened hilt with koftgari pattern is of an interesting diamond-shaped form boundaried by cartouches filling up the entire hilt.
The blade is shaped in typical early Khyber style and has a small curve down to the tip. The base has a fuller on both sides fading towards the center of the blade. It consists of high quality steel with a very interesting welding pattern. The sharpened cutting edge starts shortly from the base and ends up with a curve towards the tip. The spine is, like most Khyber swords, flat and slightly T-sectioned. Next to wootz, this kind of quality pattern welding can be found on the most high-end khyber swords. The blade was fitted into the hilt with a strong resin, which is a common construction for Persian and Indian hilts. The blade has a very smooth surface and etching which gives a magnificent rendering of the welding pattern.
Very good general condition, the hilt has some traces of rust, but has most of its koftgari work still maintained. The blades shows signs of cutting, but is very smooth and in well preserved condition. The scabbard is original, but in poor condition and seems to have been restored on several points. The tip of the scabbard suffered damage and is missing some parts, but still functions preserving the blade.
Blade length: 68.2cm
Blade thickness: 6mm
Total length: 79.7cm
Provenance: A United Kingdom private collection.
– Cameron Stone ‘A Glossary of the construction, decoration and use of arms and armour in all countries and in all time’ p.354-355
– Peter Dekker’s Glossary at Mandarin Mansion
Copyright by Peter Andeweg – Antiques by the Sea 2020
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