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Thread: A Moghul Indian Tabarzin

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    A Moghul Indian Tabarzin

    This is really a beautiful piece with excellent crucible steel pattern. The following is taken from the site of Oriental Arms:

    The heavy blade is 3 inches wide, 5 inches tall, forged from very fine high contrast wootz steel. The 21 inches long handle is covered with heavily gilded copper. The blade is very richly decorated with gold koftgari work.

    Any input and your ideas on the decoration style of this axe are highly appreciated. Or any other ideas and opinions. Thanks.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani

    By courtesy of Oriental Arms
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    Cavalry Warfare

    It would be interesting to see how this weapon would be deployed in cavalry warfare. The Sassanian Savaran elite cavalry (esp. from the period of Shapur II) often used maces and to break the opponent's armor, just as battle-axes would. It would be interesting to see (a) how infantry and cavalry used this weapon and (b) modes of training with the weapon.

    Kaveh Farrokh

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaveh Farrokh View Post
    It would be interesting to see how this weapon would be deployed in cavalry warfare. The Sassanian Savaran elite cavalry (esp. from the period of Shapur II) often used maces and to break the opponent's armor, just as battle-axes would. It would be interesting to see (a) how infantry and cavalry used this weapon and (b) modes of training with the weapon.

    Kaveh Farrokh

    Kaveh jan,

    Welcome to SFI and we are all happy to have you here. Indeed it will be very nice to find out about th techniques. As you know there are a number of similar tabars in Iranian museums as well. They are all massive and very well-crafted. Some miniatures show them in warfare as well. I am sure we can find out more about their usage in period manuscripts.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr

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    Dr. Kaveh, welcome to SFI! We're very pleased to have you.

    Manouchehr, congratulations on the acclaim your book has earned. We're very proud of your achievements!

    Regarding this splendid piece, I've always been curious as to how typically deep gold decals run. I understand in some cultures that gold was ground into a powdered form, and then a kind of lacquer would seal the gold to the surface. However, is the receiving area typically pre-shaped on pieces like this where the gold powder (if such was used) filled depressions into the metal?

    Further, if there were preparatory depressions made, how were their specific shapes so well defined? Was it by hand carving or by etching?

    Thank you!
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

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    Hi Adrian,

    Thank you very much for your kind words and support. I really appreciate it. As you know there are different methods to apply gold to the surface of the metal for decoration purposes. One of them is gold-overlaying. I think this piece has gold-overlaying technqiue. Just look at the raker areas in the corner. This is done via hatching the surface like criss cosses, then the gold wire is applied to the surface and the polished and the gold sticks. Obviously, this is the easier and cheaper method to true gold-inlaying which requires cutting grooves into the metal and applying gold into it. First the workers engraved a design on steel with a fine engraving tool, slightly undercutting the surface. In the next step they hammered fine gold wire into the groove There is also gilding the surface of the metal. In this case the surface was gilded leaving the inscriptions or decoration blank where one could see the steel. The contrast is of course very beautiful.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr


    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Ko View Post
    Dr. Kaveh, welcome to SFI! We're very pleased to have you.

    Manouchehr, congratulations on the acclaim your book has earned. We're very proud of your achievements!

    Regarding this splendid piece, I've always been curious as to how typically deep gold decals run. I understand in some cultures that gold was ground into a powdered form, and then a kind of lacquer would seal the gold to the surface. However, is the receiving area typically pre-shaped on pieces like this where the gold powder (if such was used) filled depressions into the metal?

    Further, if there were preparatory depressions made, how were their specific shapes so well defined? Was it by hand carving or by etching?

    Thank you!

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    Talking about gold-overlaying, or koftegari, look at this marvellous Indian tabar with gold-overlaid decoration. What is very interesting and unique about this piece is that its handle is covered with layers of rhino horn. Really unique. Read the text below please:

    By courtesy of Oriental Arms

    "This short and heavy battle axe is of Indian origin, with the 3 ž X 4 inches blade richly decorated with gold koftgari work and inscriptions all around. The blade is fixed to a haft made of four sectors of dark Rhino horn with clear fibrous structure, riveted to the reinforcement central steel strip with steel rosettes and also decorated with gold koftgari work. Gold rings are mounted above the connection lines between the horn sectors to conceal it. Total length 19 inches. The gold rings are later to the haft."
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    Could someone please identify the deity depicted on teh axe? Thanks.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr

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    Regarding the first set of photos, I can't tell from the photographs how the details on the handle were formed. In the case of some kukri, they used sheet metal and hammered it against hard metal templates -- instead of engraving.

    The photos of the grip detail are blurry. Do you think they formed the details against templates, or did they typically do engraving for the grips?
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaveh Farrokh View Post
    It would be interesting to see how this weapon would be deployed in cavalry warfare. The Sassanian Savaran elite cavalry (esp. from the period of Shapur II) often used maces and to break the opponent's armor, just as battle-axes would. It would be interesting to see (a) how infantry and cavalry used this weapon and (b) modes of training with the weapon.

    Kaveh Farrokh
    Dr. Kaveh,



    Would axes with this level of decoration have been used in cavalry warfare, or is this more a ceremonial piece? I would imagine that if the piece represented in the first set of photos were used in combat against armor that there would be more wear on the gold pattern in the edge.
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Ko View Post
    Regarding the first set of photos, I can't tell from the photographs how the details on the handle were formed. In the case of some kukri, they used sheet metal and hammered it against hard metal templates -- instead of engraving.

    The photos of the grip detail are blurry. Do you think they formed the details against templates, or did they typically do engraving for the grips?
    Hi Adrian,

    I think I misunderstood you. Do you mean the handle?

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr

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    Hi Adrian

    I did not inspect this piece. I think the handle is gilded copper and chased.

    KInd regards

    Manouchehr

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Ko View Post
    Dr. Kaveh,



    Would axes with this level of decoration have been used in cavalry warfare, or is this more a ceremonial piece? I would imagine that if the piece represented in the first set of photos were used in combat against armor that there would be more wear on the gold pattern in the edge.
    Hi Adrian

    You raise up a very good question. There is no doubt that the axe above could cause serious damage. These axeheads with crucible steel are extremely sturdy and well-made. You are right that the majority of soldiers did not have and could not afford decorated items. But a number of high-ranking officers used decorated swords and weapons in war. You can read about the descriptions given in the period manuals. I will report on this later. I think back then it was not only a symbol of rank but a way to show their standing.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr

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    Hi Manouchehr. Great pics and item.
    Are the remains of insrciptions on this Kolah Khud made the same way ?

    http://www.webalice.it/tsubame1/images/IMG_0523.JPG

    It seems that to have such a well preserved gold work on this axe would
    mean not much involving into battles...

    EDIT : I'm really interested in the pattern put on the board of the helmet, just around the holes for
    the chainmail rings. It resemble Higaki-yasuri of japanese swords and the making of such pattern is
    intriguing for me. Suggestions about its making (filing?) welcomed.
    Last edited by Carlo Giuseppe Tacchini; 02-02-2007 at 10:53 AM.
    Please forgive my english.

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    Adrian raised an excellent point. The weapon is highly decorated and at first glance appears to be ceremonial. Romano-Byzantine sources do report the Sassanian commanders and elite Sassanian cavalry (and Dailamite infantry later) appearing on the battlefield with decorated weapons. The sword of Emperor Heracles was in fact captured during the initial Sassanian expansions into the Byzantine Near East - it is reputed to have resided in Ctesiphon until its fall to the Arabs after 637 AD who captured Heracles' sword. The broad-sword of Khosrow II (which was also captured by the Arabs) was by then a purely ceremonial weapon as its battlefield utility had been surpassed by the 6-7th centuries AD by the Turco-Avar style locket-suspension sword.

    Regards
    Kaveh Farrokh

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaveh Farrokh View Post
    Adrian raised an excellent point. The weapon is highly decorated and at first glance appears to be ceremonial. Romano-Byzantine sources do report the Sassanian commanders and elite Sassanian cavalry (and Dailamite infantry later) appearing on the battlefield with decorated weapons. The sword of Emperor Heracles was in fact captured during the initial Sassanian expansions into the Byzantine Near East - it is reputed to have resided in Ctesiphon until its fall to the Arabs after 637 AD who captured Heracles' sword. The broad-sword of Khosrow II (which was also captured by the Arabs) was by then a purely ceremonial weapon as its battlefield utility had been surpassed by the 6-7th centuries AD by the Turco-Avar style locket-suspension sword.

    Regards
    Kaveh Farrokh

    Kaveh, thank you. I would imagine that a surface application of gold powder and binder (be it laquer or some kind of glue -- or ancient equivalent to modern epoxy) would be much easier to apply from a restoration standpoint. Let's say decorated weapons were used and were scuffed or suffered edge damage. After grinding, polishing and re-establishing the surfaces, it would be easier to redecorate if there was no depressed receiving areas.

    So then comes certain questions:

    1. How common is it to find such weapons with actual battle damage, or did the smiths endeavor to restore them after battle.

    2. Was the gold decorations done purely by eye, or was a template used (e.g. paper cutouts) that would ensure the consistency of the artwork such that the restored art was contiguous and flowed with the original?
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

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    Hi Carlo,

    Hard to tell from the picture. I do not see a cross hatching. Maybe traces of gilding? I need a magnifying glass to see that. Could you do that and check whether you see such a hatched surface?

    Yes this battle could not have been used or the decorations were put later on the blade.

    Kind regards

    Manocuhehr


    Quote Originally Posted by Carlo Giuseppe Tacchini View Post
    Hi Manouchehr. Great pics and item.
    Are the remains of insrciptions on this Kolah Khud made the same way ?

    http://www.webalice.it/tsubame1/images/IMG_0523.JPG

    It seems that to have such a well preserved gold work on this axe would
    mean not much involving into battles...

    EDIT : I'm really interested in the pattern put on the board of the helmet, just around the holes for
    the chainmail rings. It resemble Higaki-yasuri of japanese swords and the making of such pattern is
    intriguing for me. Suggestions about its making (filing?) welcomed.

  19. #19
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    Kave,

    Thank you very much for your kind input. Really nice.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr

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    Pursuant to my question regarding the restoration of the gold artwork after use on the battlefield...

    http://forums.swordforum.com/attachm...9&d=1170371277

    This image in particular (from the first post) shows the wear of the gold artwork on the cutting surface. Now one might say that the wear is the result of handling over the years, but if so why this area specifically while the rest of the axehead's artwork remains so well preserved?

    If we examine the cutting surface: the artwork may have originally formed an internal track tracing the shape of the axehead, but here the "wear" might be consistent with an efforf of a re-establishing the edge and working surface of the axe if it had seen battle..

    Or if the axe had some kind of sheath whereupon only the working surface was sheathed while the opposite end of the edge was left exposed. Any confirmation of how these were sheathed or worn would be most welcomed.

    If you then look at:

    http://forums.swordforum.com/attachm...8&d=1170371269

    ... the cutting surface of the axe is smooth. If never used in battle, there is no reason that regular handling over the years would have resulted in that specific a loss or wear of the artwork.

    http://forums.swordforum.com/attachm...0&d=1170371282

    The above here is a special shot, I think, because it shows a lenticular edge. The flow of lines and the surface suggest to me that if indeed the axe was once used in battle and that restoration was required to remove chips or damage to the edge, the person working on the restoration did a remarkable job of re-esablishing the surfaces.

    Thoughts?
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

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    just a additional thought... i've made quite a few axes and the Poll on these axes is massive.. .. i definitely believe it is on purpose... you could use the poll on these like a war hammer..

    excellent post..
    Greg

    please continue

  22. #22
    A friend who is a scholar of Indian religions helped me with the iconography of the axe.
    .......
    "Josh,
    It is almost certainly Durga in the form when she is
    killing Mahisasura (the buffalo demon) though it is
    possible that she is killing the twins Sumbha Nisumbha
    but usually she is only holding a kind of club in that
    latter image. The multiple weapons harken back to the
    story when all the gods gather and each give her their
    weapons so that she is all powerful. The story is the
    basis of the Devi Mahatmya (the best translation is in
    Thomas Coburn, Encountering the Goddess) which is a
    hymn in praise of Durga. In this image she is the
    great goddess (rather than the more localized versions
    of Durga). Below her feet are the demon/demons. In the
    photo I couldn't see if there was a lion there. If so,
    that is her mount who she rides into battle
    (occasionally it is a tiger). "
    .........

    My friend also mentioned that with good pictures she might be able to decipher the inscription.
    Josh

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by josh stout View Post
    A friend who is a scholar of Indian religions helped me with the iconography of the axe. ...OMISSIS...
    My friend also mentioned that with good pictures she might be able to decipher the inscription.
    Josh
    Hi Josh. Any chance to have your friend regiostered here on SFI ?
    He should be a great addition.
    Please forgive my english.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manouchehr M. View Post
    This is really a beautiful piece with excellent crucible steel pattern. The following is taken from the site of Oriental Arms:

    The heavy blade is 3 inches wide, 5 inches tall, forged from very fine high contrast wootz steel. The 21 inches long handle is covered with heavily gilded copper. The blade is very richly decorated with gold koftgari work.

    Any input and your ideas on the decoration style of this axe are highly appreciated. Or any other ideas and opinions. Thanks.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani

    By courtesy of Oriental Arms

    Sir,
    Every time you post pictures of a weapon I constantly find myself drawn to the fine patterns and designs of the inlay and other furnishings rather than the blade or functional aspects of the piece. You have a habit of finding the most beautiful pieces, I find them more a kin to pieces of art than tools of man. It is impossible to imagine them being used for something as crude as killing.

    I hold you responsible for my budding interest in Middle Eastern and South Asian weapons.
    Last edited by Ian Hutchison; 02-08-2007 at 09:17 AM.

  25. #25
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    Thank you very much Ian for your kind words and your interest in middle eastern weapons.

    Kind regards

    Manouchehr


    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Hutchison View Post
    Sir,
    Every time you post pictures of a weapon I constantly find myself drawn to the fine patterns and designs of the inlay and other furnishings rather than the blade or functional aspects of the piece. You have a habit of finding the most beautiful pieces, I find them more a kin to pieces of art than tools of man. It is impossible to imagine them being used for something as crude as killing.

    I hold you responsible for my budding interest in Middle Eastern and South Asian weapons.

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