Culture: Tamil, Telugu
Setting: Nayaka kingdoms, southern India 16th-17thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Elgood 2004 p53
"[I]n the first half of the seventeenth century the [Vijayanagara] empire gradually broke into approximately two hundred independent and semi-independent states under their governors or nayaks. The principal ones were Mysore and Ikkeri in Karnataka, and Gingee (Senji), Madurai and Tanjore in Tamil country. [...] Conflict between Tanjore and Madurai over allegiance to the Vijayanagara Raya Ramaraya resulted in the Nayak of Madurai moving his court to Trichinopoly in 1616 to wage war more effectively against Tanjore.
"The Sahityaratnakara described the 1616 campaign .... [...] After his great victory over the Nayakas of Madurai and Gingee at Toppur in 1617, Raghunatha Nayaka was likened to Krishna and the war to the great Mahabharata war. Tanjore stood supreme in southern India and its support for the Vijayanagara raya ensured that the Hindu empire could withstand Muslim attacks on its territory."
* Doniger 2009 p467
"The Nayakas rose to power after Vijayanagar fell in 1565, and they ruled, from Mysore, through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The story of the founding of the Nayaka kingdoms follows lines similar to those of the story of the founding of Vijayanagar: Sent out to pacify the Cholas, the Nayakas double-crossed the Vijayanagar king just as the founding Vijayanagarans had double-crossed the Delhi sultans. What goes around comes around. The Nayakas brought dramatic changes, a renaissance in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Tamil country and Andhra, ranging from political experimentation and economic and social change to major shifts in the concepts of gender."
* Elgood 2004 p30
"Tanjore was ... ruled by Nayak governors as feudatories of the Vijayanagara emperor. [...] During the sixteenth century the Nayaks gradually took power into their own hands though remaining loyal to their overlords to whom they were related. [...] For 150 years, this Telugu dynasty ruled over a Tamil population and vigorously patronised the arts while maintaining heavy expenditure on the army.
"[...] Yajnanarayana Dikshita's Sanskrit poem the Sahityaratnakara describes the achievements of Tanjore Nayaka Raghunatha (1600-34), his army and its equipment. Raghunatha's fame was due to his victory at Toppur. [...] His reign was the most illustrious of the Tanjore line, literature and the arts flourished, and Tanjore became the greatest seat of learning and culture in south India. Yajnanarayana Dikshita eulogised him, saying that poverty had left the country and that Tanjore was the abode of Lakshmi."
* Treasures from India 1987 p52 (describing a sword in the Clive Collection at Powis Castle)
"Sword Steel basket hilt; watered steel blade with applied steel reinforcement plates at the forte. l.103 Blade: S.India, 17th century(?); Hilt: Central or S.India, 18th century
"The double-edged blade, broadening out towards the tip, follows an early South Indian form. Blades of the same shape can be seen on swords presented to the Prince of Wales in 1875-6 by the Princess of Tanjore, and are described as 'anterior to the 17th century.'"
* Paul 1995 p77
"The Hindu basket hilt was developed around 1500. The ears of the old Indian hilt are broadened and a plate knuckle guard is added which is broad at the base and tapering towards the top, where it is fixed to the pommel. The pommel itself is invariably a deep saucer. A common feature of the hilt is a long, forward curving spike surmounting the dome of the pommel. This spike could also be gripped by the left hand while making a two-handed blow.
"The basket hilt was probably derived from similarly hilted European weapons. Generally, the basket hilt was padded to absorb the shock of the blows."
* Tarassuk/Blair 1979 p361
"pattisa A type of sword used in southern and central India, the pattisa has a very broad, heavy, double-edged blade reaching 1 m. (39 in.) in length, often with decorative applications on both edges, and widening toward the point, which is occasionally rounded. It is fitted with either the Hindu hilt, which has a closed guard, or with the saucer-pommeled open hilt and short quillons with down-turning finials. Its leather scabbard follows the shape of the blade."
* Fryer 1969 p88
"Pattisa An Indian sword with broad spatulate blade, widening towards the tip which is rounded. The hilt is similar to that of a khanda."
* Pathak 2006 p126
"The most common traditional costume for men is the dhoti, shirt, angavastram and turban/scarf. The dhoti is worn in two distinctive styles: the first is the standard wearing style of Northern India -- the pleats are tucked in front in such a manner that the whole bunch, when tucked in, leaves no space between the buttocks and the innermost pleat of the bunch. In the second wearing style, the dhoti is wrapped around the loins without any gathers or pleats either at the back or in the front. The dhoti then hangs as a straight skirt without any gathers, much like a lungi. Usually, men wear a white cotton dhoti with a narrow colourful border. Sometimes these dhotis are colourful or with check. Some paintings of the Vijayanagara and Nayaka periods depict men wearing dhotis with checks or floral patterns."The angavastram or body-cloth or scarf is commonly used by men in Southern India. Usually it is wrapped around the waist, at times twice and at others more than twice, as is portrayed in the stone sculptures at the Brihadisvara Temple. Men cover their heads with a headgear that is freshly wrapped, rather than a pre-formed turban. The size and volume of the headgear varies with the provenance as well as the nature of the caste group. The 17th-century paintings of the Nayaka period (housed in the Madras Museum) depict Yudhishtira's coronation, with men wearing dhotis, angavastrams and turbans on the occasion. A courtesan is depicted wearing the jama, the paijama and the Maratha-style turban, all quite colourful." [references omitted]
* Racinet 1988 p100
"The Rajah of Tanjore in the Karnataka, a member of the Mahrat caste and an adherent of Vishnu. His turban is made of embroidered silk and is decorated at the front with a brooch holding an eagle's feather in place. He is wearing diamond earrings, a white muslin robe, a cashmere belt and a plaited shoulder belt."
* Elgood 2004 p253
"The statue of Raghunātha Nāyaka (ruled Tanjore 1600-1634) at KumbaKoṇam shows him wearing a krīs and there were three in the Tanjore Armoury inventory. A seventeenth-century statue of a royal donor at the Bhūvarāha Temple, Śrīmushnam (probably the Gingee Nāyaka Krishṇappa II) is also wearing a krīs. One of the ornate early seventeenth-century katārs from Tanjore is mounted with a straight pamir blade from a krīs. In south-east Asia the krīs was a symbol of rank and office at the royal courts, carried in audiences and ceremonies and believed to ward off evil. These values seem to have been common to Hindu India as well." [references omitted]
* Elgood 2004 p250
"Sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Hindu Kaṭārs tend to have longer triangular blades than those of the Mughals. The southern katars of this date often utilise cut-down European blades. Another common characteristic is fine grooves running the length of the blade to the point covering all the surface, found also on spearheads from the same region. These are sixteenth-century Indian blades and can be seen accurately carved in stone in the Śeshagirirāyar Maṇḍapa, Śrīraṅgam and in other sixteenth century Vijayanagara maṇḍapas. Sculpture shows these were consistently used in battle in pairs, one in each hand."
* Elgood 2004 p174 f16.25
"A number of daggers of this form exist .... The recurved blades are similar in scale to the recurved swords. They were used point uppermost to thrust and slash rather than to stab downwards. Many Hindu dagger blades have the same awkward [?] shape and the same also applies to their use. [...] Iconographically this seems more Tamil than Maratha and likely to date from before 1675 when the Marathas seized Tanjore."