Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1605 Rajput bhumi
Subjectbhumi infantryman
Culture: Rajput
Setting: Mughal empire, Hindustan mid 16-17thc

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

* Black ed. 1999 p116-117 (Jos Gommans, "Warhorse and gunpowder in India c. 1000-1850" p105-127)
"Turning to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century India, the presence of infantry is certainly eye-catching.  As argued by Dirk Kolff, there appears to have been an almost limitless availability of armed peasants who presented themselves continually to an extensive military labour market.  For most of these armed peasants, military employment was only a part-time business, complemented by other activities such as sowing, harvesting and weaving.  ... [M]ilitary employment neatly followed the agrarian calendar.  Especially in the semi-arid zones of India, such as in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and the Carnatic, which often depended on only one uncertain crop, military services could become a crucial part of the population's survival strategy.  Despite the sheer masses of Indian foot soldiers, their role appears as only marginal on the actual battlefield.  Although the Indo-Persian chronicles give relatively high figures for infantry, the latter figures barely in the battle accounts, which remained dedicated to the horse-warrior.  The same goes for the many pictorial representations in miniatures.  Although this may have been the result of a cultural bias on the part of the horse-loving artist, the minor role of infantry in battles is confirmed by the disparaging comments of European contemporaries and modern military scholars alike.  Most of all, following the almost endless availability of superior cavalry, India lacked the inducement to develop disciplined and drilled infantry which could operate in the open field or keep up permanent fire.  As in the case of artillery, their firearms and shot lacked standardization.  It further appears that the bulk of Indian infantry served off the battlefield, as local militia or as various attendants (ahsham) of court and cavalry.  From a purely technological point of view, the foot soldier remained at a clear disadvantage vis-à-vis the horse-warrior.  For the most part they lacked any body armour and were only equipped with primitive bows and spears.  Even when the foot soldier could dispose of a matchlock arquebus, he was still at a loss against the mounted archer.  For example, the firing rate of the matchlock could not compete with the composite bow."

* Nicolle/McBride 1993 p

* Richards 1993 p298
"bhumiya[:]  warriors of the land, less powerful retainers of a Rajput thakur or chief."


* 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."

* Elgood 2004 p

* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/Larocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson p192 (Frederick Wilkinson, "India and Southeast Asia" p186-203)


* Elgood 2015 p80
​"[V]ery long katars date from the mid-sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The earliest surviving katar known to the author is dated 965 AH/1558 AD. ...  Katars are shown on late medieval hero stones which cannot be dated with certainty; and are illustrated very frequently in the Hamzanama, a Mughal manuscript dated mid-sixteenth century.  A katar is also illustrated in the 1570 Bijapur manuscript the Nujum al-'Ulum.
    "The art historian Hermann Goetz who spent years working in Bikaner argued that the katar (and the patta) was a Deccani weapon introduced into Rajasthan when the Rajputs served as auxiliaries under the Mughals in the Deccan.  Goetz's date for adoption may seem surprisingly late but the Bikaner Raja Kalyan Mal only made his submission to the Emperor in 1570.  If Goetz's argument is expanded, a key moment in this process was probably when his son Rai Singh, the ruler of Bikaner from 1571 to 1612, served as Mughal governor of Burhanpur in 1585-92.  The Mughals used this town as a military base for their attacks on the Deccan and Burhanpur was formally annexed by Akbar in 1596.  Raja Rai Singh died there during his second term as governor.  Travellers describe the town as a major centre of arms production and a bahi sword dated 1746 VS/1689 describes the town as a major maker of katars, but earlier information is missing.  Sixteenth- and early-seventeenth century Deccani and Rajput katars tended to have longer triangular blades than those of the Mughals.  Indeed, these very long katars were rarely worn by the Mughals themselves, and Mughal cultural influence in the early seventeenth century brought about a change in fashion in those areas where they were worn.  However, katars on this scale are illustrated in the Salim Album in the Chester Beatty Collection dated c. 1590-1600 and the Victoria and Albert's Akbarnama of c. 1599-1600.  Similar long katars are shown in a portrait of Raja Rai Singh of Bikaner attributed to 1575; and in a portrait by Nur Muhammad of Rao Bhoj Rathore, Raja Rai Singh's uncle, dated c. 1606.  A portrait from the Shajahan Album by Hashim c. 1633 of an Abyssinian wearing such a katar shows that the fashion was followed in the state of Ahmadnagar in the Deccan.  The origin of these long katars does appear to be in the Deccan, where they were adopted by Rajputs serving in the Mughal armies."


* Nicolle/McBride 1993 p