Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1576 Rajput warrior 

Subject: warrior
Culture: Rajput
Setting: late Delhi sultanate, early Mughal empire, Hindustan 16th-17thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Johnson 1996 p88
"The Rajputs were one of the principal non-Mughal groups that were co-opted into the Mughal empire in northern India.  This enabled prominent Rajput leaders to rise to positions of importance in the Mughal army and civil administration.  While remaining nominally subservient to the Mughals, several Rajput lineages took advantage of their imperial associations to establish semi-autonomous polities in central and western India, in the region of Rajasthan today.  Here they set up courts that blended Mughal and non-Mughal aesthetic forms.  Though the term 'Rajput' derives from the Sanskrit rajaputra, meaning 'son of a king', apparently reflecting the belief that all Rajputs are descended from kings, in the pre-Mughal era genealogical descent was not as important in defining Rajput status as it became first under Mughal, and then British, power.  During this earlier period (prior to the late 16th century), the term 'Rajput' was generically applied to any horse-soldier, trooper or headman of a village, regardless of bio-genetic origin, who achieved his status through his personal ability to force a wide network of alliances as a result of military service or marriage."

* Gommans 2002 53-54
"From this time [eleventh and twelfth centuries] onwards, India, like Europe, was developing an assertive new aristocracy based on landed lordship.  Although this process of gentrification was an all-Indian phenomenon, it is most clearly visible in the rise of the Rajputs in northern India and the Nayakas of southern India. ... [T]he Rajputs became crucial elements in the Mughal army, in particular the Kachhwaha rajas of Amber-Jaipur and the Rathor rajas from Marwar-Jodhpur.  The repeated emergence of new groups of Rajputs, i.e. 'sons of kings', reflects an ongoing process of rajputisation that involved the gradual transition of mobile, open, exogamous war-bands into settled, closed, endogamous castes who recognised little else than unilineal kinship.  Those war-bands had grown into local dynasties, particularly in Rajasthan, commissioned Brahmans or bardic pastoralists to construct a new Rajput Great Tradition, equipped with numerous heroic narratives and with fixed, but highly fictitious, genealogies.  The past of the new Rajput dynasties was probably not much different from that of the spurious Rajput war-bands, as they were both mobile and open to various outsiders, but now this was strongly idealised and formalised.  In many ways, it was a pattern we have described already for the settling Afghans and Mughals, who also romanticised, and by this transformed, aspects of their tribal past as ghazis of the mawas.  During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Mughal patronage could only crystallise further the internal Rajput hierarchy, facilitating an even more codified construction of their history.
​    "In many ways Rajput Great Tradition reproduced typical Kshatrya ideals, such as violent sacrifice and devotion.  As we have seen already, both aspects had been present in the life of wandering war-bands of Rajputs and sadhus, albeit in the more pragmatic forms of raiding and military service.  In the new situation, violent sacrifice was an idealised option in case the honour of the Rajput and his family was at stake.  Apart from physical prowess, the Rajput was primarily recognised by his position in the social hierarchy and by his landed rights.  Time and again, we find descriptions of battles in which heroic acts become represented as acts of personal sacrifice."

* Richards 1993 p20-21
"During the fifteenth century Indo-Muslim rulers of regional kingdoms (but not the Sultans of Delhi) had accepted unconverted Hindu warriors into their elite cadres.  Even the Surs had benefited from the services of Hemu, a Vaisya administrator and general.  Nevertheless, although scarcely unprecedented, this was a major step for the Timurids.  In 1561, a minor Rajput chief, head of the Kachhwaha clan of Amber, sought the emperor's intervention in a bid to keep his power against an unfriendly Mughal governor.  Bharamall, the Kachhwaha raja, had actively supported Humayun in the conflict with the Surs.  When Akbar was marching near Jaipur, the Rajput suppliant offered one of his daughters in marriage to the young monarch.  Akbar agreed, the marriage was performed, and the emperor accepted Bharamall, his son, and grandson as amirs in imperial service.  The Kachhwaha raja retained his seat at Amber.
​    "Over the next two decades, Akbar demonstrated the reality of Mughal power by repeated campaigns in Rajasthan.  Other Rajput chiefs negotiated entry into the imperial elite and offered their daughters as marriage partners for the Mughal emperor.  By the sixteenth century a diffuse political system based on the obligations of patrilineal kinship and marriage alliances was ripe for political centralization.  Several generations of settlement and frontier expansion, driven in large measure by Islamic conquest in the Gangetic valley, resulted in increased productivity and population densities in Rajasthan.  Akbar generally recruited Rajput clan heads who either claimed royal blood, or who were scions of the great noble houses.  These thakurs or masters were the aristocrats of Rajput society in contrast to the more obscure bhumiya warriors who possessed only modest power, land, and status.  
​    " ... In conformity with imperial regulations, Rajput noblemen organized their kinsmen and non-kin retainers into cavalry contingents armed and equipped for active military service.  Rajputs were required to serve the emperor personally wherever he might be sent.  At court, Rajputs publicly acknowledged the authority and supremacy of the emperor and became conversant with Persian and imperial manners and etiquette.  In so doing they were assured that they could retain their beliefs, customs, and honor as Hindu warriors."

* Gommans 2002 p56
"Clearly, the Rajput tradition of devotional sacrifice to one's patron was something to be cherished by the Mughals.  Although increasingly self-conscious about their honour and descent, the Rajputs themselves found no trouble in seeing the more powerful Mughal warriors as a part of their own caste (jati).  The Muslim emperor, in particular, held a position of high rank and esteem, at times even equated with the Hindu god Ram, the pre-eminent Kshatriya cultural hero of the Rajput.  What basically distinguished the emperor from local Rajput rulers was simply his possession of greater sovereignty and power and his greater ability to grant favours and rewards.  Within Hindu Rajput cultural conceptions, service to the Muslim emperor or one of his subordinates was thus not different from service to a local thakur.  In exchange for his devoted service, the Rajput received rich rewards in cash and revenue rights.  Simultaneously, the Rajput notions of honour became more and more expressed in the ritual of the Mughal court.  One can imagine that, under these circumstances, salvation through death became increasingly less attractive.  In other words, the Rajput willingness to sacrifice his life became implemented only rarely and was more often negotiated against other means of acquiring honour, such as Mughal rank, money and landed rights."

* Hodgson 1974 3 p66-67
"The state continued to be unmistakably a Muslim state, and most high positions were held by Muslims.  But Akbar made special use of the military talents and of the disciplined manpower of the Râjpût chieftains and their men, who held the various hill districts south of the Ganges basin, especially in Râjpûtânâ.  The proudest of the Râjpût houses, that of Mewar, alone refused to submit; the gallant Rânâ (prince) of Mewar was still a fugitive, free though in the wilderness, when Akbar died; his story has become the stuff of legend.  But most of these princely houses were firmly allied to the Timurid throne -- in many cases by marriages (on an unprecedentedly voluntary basis) of the daughters of Râjpût rulers with the Timurid ruling family.  (The later Timurids were chiefly of Râjpût ancestry save in the direct male line.)  Accordingly, though Akbar's empire was Muslim in its foundation and in the ultimate locus of its power, yet Hindus and Muslims co-operated effectively in its actual management, and jointly reaped its benefits in wealth and splendour.  This fact gave urgency to universalist inclinations shared by Akbar with an increasing number of thoughtful persons in India, both Muslim and Hindu."

* Racinet 1988 p96
"The Rajputs -- whose name means 'Children of Kings' -- believed that they were descended from the Kchatryas, the ancient Kings of India who were called 'the Children of the Sun and Moon'.  In the 17th century, there were still 100 independent Rajas, each capable of raising a cavalry force of 25,000 men, and the Rajputs, warriors through and through, were always eager to take up arms at the first sign of trouble."


* Elgood 2004 p167
"Zāghnal/zāghnol (Persian) 'Crow's beak'.  An axe with a knife-like blade at right angles to the haft. ...  One is shown in the Nujūm al-'Ulūm of 1570."

* Stone 1934 p684
"ZAGHNAL.  An axe with one or two heavy curved knife-like blades, India."  [reference omitted]

* Pant 2005 97
"Another type [of battle-axe] was the zaghnol (crow's beak) in which the head was pointed and provided with two cutting edges."

* Fryer 1969 p89
"Zaghnal  An Indian axe with right-angled bill-shaped blade."

* Elgood 2015 p202
"In Rajasthan this weapon is generally called a zaghnol (Persian for 'crow's beak').  It transfers into Hindi where the blade is referred to as a 'chonch' or beak.  A zaghnal is shown in the Nujum al-'Ulum of 1570.  Abul Fazl also refers to it in his Ain-i Akbari.  Another literal example with a head like a bird's skull and curved beak can be seen in a folio c. 1635 in the Padshahnama a Windsor Castle.
    "The early Indian version of this weapon is probably based on the plough carried by Krishna's elder brother, Balarama.  The plough was in fact his emblem.  A zaghnol taller than a man is shown in a Bundi painting of c. 1750-60."


* Rawson 1968 p27-28
"The history of the Indian sword for the easterly territories is not continuous, but in the regions of Western India for which we have Islamic testimony it can be continued directly, the evidence of Mughal painting taking up where Western Indian miniature painting stops.  In the Akbar Namah paintings in the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection which represent battles between the Mughals and Rajputs and Rajputs appear to be using Islamic swords of the early Talwar type, mounted in the Western Indian form of the Indo-Muslim hilt used by the Mughals.  One of the paintings, however, shows a beautiful Rajput Khanda, with a ridged and waisted spoon-blade, mounted in the same Indo-Muslim form of hilt.  This sword is clearly a well-made version of the same type of weapon as is portrayed in the Western Indian miniature paintings.  We know from Islamic histories that in Mughal times the Khanda was still made, and a good one was sold for only a little less than the best Talwar blades.
    "Among the Hindus of Central India and Orissa too the Khanda remained the primary weapon, though it was mounted in the Old Indian hilt, and was generally flat bladed.  Some swords of this type that survive have retained their medieval form, and could have served as the prototypes of medieval sculptural representations.
    "The greater number of the surviving Khandas from the Hindu areas of Northern India are, however, mounted in the Hindu Basket hilt, which is a later version of the Old Indian improved by the addition of a basket guard.  It is probable that this development took place in the Western Deccan about 1600, and was prompted by contacts with European basket-hilted swords.  In the large tracts of Central India and Orissa that in the eighteenth century lay under Maratha dominion this basket hilt was adopted by the indigenous population from the rulers.  It is a very good hilt indeed."

* Withers 2010 p95
"To a Rajput horseman, the khanda was very much a lethal weapon of last resort.  If unhorsed and surrounded by the enemy, he would quickly draw the large blade and begin swinging it around his head, taking full advantage of its estimable hacking and slashing functions.  Because of the great width of the khanda blade, it was never perceived as an efficient thrusting sword.
​    "The khanda was effective against the leather and chain-mail armour of the Mughal invaders, as its great strength (especially when wielded with two hands) could cut through these materials with considerable ease.  [CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION: If armor could be cut so easily, why did anyone bother wearing it?]  When carried by infantrymen, this sword gave them a chance against horse-mounted soldiers."


* Stone 1934 p497
"PHARI.  A cane shield, India, 16th century."  [reference omitted]


* Stone 1934 p344-345
"KATAR, COUTAR, KATAH, KOUTAH, KUTAH, KUTAR.  The oldest and most characteristic of Indian knives.  The peculiarity lies in the handle which is made up of two parallel bars connected by two, or more, crosspieces, one of which is at the end of the side bars and is fastened to the blade.  The remainder form the handle which is at right angles to the blade.  The blades are always double-edged and generally straight, but occasionally curved.  They are of all lengths from a few inches to about three feet. [...]
​    "The katar is purely a Hindu weapon and was rarely used by the Mahommedans [CONTRA Welch 1985 p271 and Arts of the Muslim knight 2008 p143], and is never found outside of India."

* Paul 1995 p68
"The katar is of Rajput origin but its use was widespread.  Rajput and Mughal miniature paintings of the period bear testimony to this fact." 
[CONTRA Welch 1985 p271 below and Arts of the Muslim knight 2008 p143]  

* Welch 1985 p271
"Its basic form is unique to India, and it is represented frequently in the Hamza-nama, as well as in other early Mughal manuscripts.  The type, with its peculiar triangular blade and hilt composed of two straight uprights, to protect the hand and wrist, with crossbars between, probably originated in southern India.  Many examples, with richly ornamented hilts, are known from Tanjore.  We have not found them in paintings from pre-Mughal Rajput, [Delhi] Sultanate, or western Indian sources.  They seem to have been common, however, in the Deccan and at Rajput courts of the Mughal period."