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Very fine 19th C. Indian Shamshir with gilt copper fittings and old blade

( ID: is829 )

A fine 19th century Indian shamshir, this piece boasts a beautifully forged handle with carved and gilded copper or brass fittings.  The blade, likely originating from the late 17th century, featuring a chiseled ricasso with gold koftgari remaining, consists of Persian wa-tered steel or wootz.  The original scabbard is mounted with ensuite matching fittings echo-ing the design of the handle.  The overall length of piece is 37 inches, while the blade extends 32 inches.  

Developed in India, wootz steel features a pattern of sheets of micro carbides within a tem-pered martensite or pearlite matrix.  The technology was developed in contemporary Tamil Nadu, according to archaeological research.  The 12th century Arab traveler Edrisi charac-terized it as the best form of steel in the world, given its strength and sharpness.

According to experts at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, this time in Indian his-tory from the beginning of the 18th century to the mid-20th century, featured a shift in the role of the maharajas and their patronage of the arts, both in India and Europe.  This re-sulted in the production of ornate objects reflecting royal status, power and identity.  

The Mughal emperors who had ruled India up to this point in history were experiencing a rapid erosion of power as the British arrived on the sub-continent.  Their empire had relied on a network of allegiance from local princes and prefects.  These prince, though, began to swear allegiance to the British in exchange for retaining their status and titles.

Photo #1 of Very fine 19th C. Indian Shamshir with gilt copper fittings and old blade
Photo #2 of Very fine 19th C. Indian Shamshir with gilt copper fittings and old blade
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Photo #9 of Very fine 19th C. Indian Shamshir with gilt copper fittings and old blade
Photo #10 of Very fine 19th C. Indian Shamshir with gilt copper fittings and old blade
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Photo #12 of Very fine 19th C. Indian Shamshir with gilt copper fittings and old blade
Photo #13 of Very fine 19th C. Indian Shamshir with gilt copper fittings and old blade
Photo #14 of Very fine 19th C. Indian Shamshir with gilt copper fittings and old blade