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16. Mysore or Tanjore straight spearhead (sang) Circa 1600

( ID: ic1265 )

Overall length: 43.2 cm

Blade length: 21.6 cm

Blade width: 4.75 cm

Weight: 2lbs

Price on request

A rare example of an Indian spearhead from the Tanjore region, and dispersed from the Tanjore armory, this south Indian sang is a rarer form of the more commonly found curved forms. These types are most often dated to the late 16th-17th centuries. The largest selection of these, in pristine condition, is found in the Royal Collection, Windsor Trust, at Sandringham and are illustrated in Griggs (1910). At least two examples are on display currently at Sandringham (RCIN 3814; RCIN 37519). These examples are nearly identical in form to our piece, having been presented to Edward VII, then as Prince of Wales, during his tour of India in 1875-76, by Muktamabai Chhatrapati, Princess of Tanjore. Elgood (2005) also illustrates a near identical, though less decorated, example in the Government Museum in Chennai (Elgood 2005; pl. nr. 19.13).

This spearhead closely follows the form of the example at Sandringham with a straight steel blade, a central rib, and a pierced and chiseled base featuring two yāli heads on either side from which the blade emerges (see Cat. Nr. 17 for a brief description of the yāli). The tubular socket is strengthened by projected hemispherical bands and rings and further chiseled with south Indian floral designs in between. These tubular chiseled forms can also be found on other arms of the same period, including a matchu – a sacrificial south Indian chopper – from the George Cameron Stone collection, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Acc. Nr. 36.25.1279). A late 19th century albumen print taken by Bourne and Shephard (1875-1876) - shown on the previous page -illustrates the Sandringham example well, displaying the close similarity to this piece (RCIN 2701855). Overall condition is darkened with age, though all of the details, including the yāli, remain in crisp condition. Most interestingly, the form of the spear is replicated on the monumental aṅkuśa (Cat. Nr. 17) and shows the progression of design and form over a period of roughly 150 years during the course of the Nayaka Dynasty.


Bourne and Shepherd. CALCUTTA, BOMBAY & SIMLA: BOURNE & SHEPHERD (ACTIVE 1864-1900S) Three Daggers: Prince of Wales Tour of India 1875-6 (vol.5) 1875-76. Albumen print | 28.3 x 22.0 cm (image)

Elgood, R. (2005) Hindu Arms and Ritual: Arms and Armour from India 1400-1865. Eburon Publishers, Delft.

Griggs, Sir. C. P. (1910) Arms and Armour at Sandringham: The Indian Collection Presented by the Princes, Chiefs and Nobles of India to His Majesty King Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, on the Occasion of His Visit to India in 1875-1876, Also Some Asiatic, African and European Weapons and War-relics. London

Photo #1 of 16. Mysore or Tanjore straight spearhead (sang) Circa 1600
Photo #2 of 16. Mysore or Tanjore straight spearhead (sang) Circa 1600