Wootz 'Tabarzin' saddle axe
North India, 18th century
Materials: Steel, Iron, Gold, Silkwire
The saddle axe or ‘tabarzin‘ is a common and functional fighting axe which has its origin in Persia and the Ottoman Empire. Most examples are similar with a flat shaped axe head with wedge shaped edge and square back which was used as war hammer. Many were made of plain or wootz steel and attached to a wooden shaft, sometimes covered in metal. ‘Tabarzin‘ axes were commonly used by cavalry troops and proved functional in battle due to their light weight and short length. Our example listed here is from North India, dates from the 18th century and has a contrasting wootz grain visible with fine gold decorated edges.
Made of fine Indian wootz steel with gold decoration on all sides. The top of the head is flat and goes straight in to the wedge shaped edge, running back towards the hammer in three segments. Due to an etching, the head shows a fine wootz steel grain as is often seen with Indian wootz.
The shaft is made of wood, covered in gilded brass with engraved lozenge pattern with borders of leafs. The middle segment of the shaft is covered in silk wire and provides grip. This could be a later addition, since most are covered with velvet, brass or leather.
Condition: Good condition, the axe suffered from active rust which damaged the crosshatched gold. It was cleaned leaving some pitting and ware visible. The shaft was originally gilded, which had faded due to age and time. The base of the shaft is dented. Further a good example of a North Indian axe showing fine wootz steel.
Head: 13.1 x 8.4cm
Shaft length: 50.7cm
Total length: 55cm
– Ravinder Reddy’s Arms & Armour of India, Nepal & Sri-lanka.
– The David collection, Copenhagen acc.nr. Inv. no. 12/1979
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