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Rare 17th C. Indian ex. Bikaner Armory Axe Zaghnal

( ID: ia874 )

A unique example of early weaponry from Indian civilization, this unique 17th century piece originates from the Bikaner Armory.  The copious markings in punch marks applied to the counter-punch and the face of the blade illuminate the origins of the axe.  A rare find, the weapon extends 24 inches and the axehead is 10 inches long, while the haft likely consists of rosewood.

Soldiers of the Mughal Empire at the time would employ the weapon as an armor-piercing blade in battle.  Considered one of the "gunpowder empires" of the time period, the Mughal Empire battled the Safavid Iran and Ottoman Empire for control of the region.  All three of these empires undertook significant military campaigns at the time employing innovations in mortal technology, including cannons, small arms and firearms to expand their dominions.  The Mughal Empire was an open civilization seeking to nurture the offerings of the societies it ruled.  Instead of trying to eradicate them, the Mughal developed policies that pacified and included various ruling elites.

The Mughal artistic and design tradition synthesized influences from around the world including the European Renaissance as well as from Persian and Indian schools.  The art historian R. Siva Kumar argues, "The Mughal painters borrowed individual motifs and certain naturalistic effects from Renaissance and Mannerist painting, but their structuring principle was derived from Indian and Persian traditions."  At its peak, the Mughal Empire extended into modern day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.  The contributions of the civilization are seen in contemporary times with the tombs and other pieces of architecture remaining in these locations.

*  R. Siva Kumar, "Modern Indian Art: a Brief Overview," Art Journal (1999) 58#3 pp 14+.

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