Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1751 Rajput zamindar
Subjectज़मींदार zamīndār noble
Culture: Rajput
Setting: Maratha wars / late Mughal empire, Hindustan 18th-early 19thc
Evolution1576 Rajput warrior > 1751 Rajput zamindar

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

* Nicolle/McBride 1993 p19
"Recruitment for the late Mughul army was even more varied than it had been in earlier days.  By the 18th century people of humble social rank were rising to real military power.  These included both Hindu and Muslim 'tax farmers', who combined local military authority with considerable money-making skills. Many had their own small military forces, and their relationship with provincial governors and the Emperor tended to be based on mercenary contracts rather than traditional loyalties.  The troops themselves included cavalry from Afghanistan and what is now northern and central Pakistan, though the most reliable seem to have been the Hindu Rajputs."

* Nicolle/McBride 1993 p11
"The fourth and final class of cavalry [after ahadisdakhilis, and tabinan] were the irregulars led by various autonomous or tributary chiefs.  Many were Hindu zamindars from the indigenous Indian military class whose local authority was recognized by the Mughul government. ... In return the zamindars paid the Mughuls regular tribute and contributed irregular military forces when needed."

* Edgerton 1968 p106-107
"In Oude, the Rajputs are the principal land-holders.  They formed the greater proportion of the Bengal sepoy army before 1857.  They are thus described by Sleeman before the annexation: -- 'The principal landholders -- zemindars who are in open resistance to the Government -- have each armed and disciplined bodies of 2,000 foot and 500 horse, and the command of as many as they like of "Passies," armed with bows and arrows.  The latter are village watchmen, and at other times robbers of the lowest class.  They use the bow and arrow especially, and are said to be able to send an arrow through a man at a distance of 100 yards.  The talookdars have each a fort mounting five or six guns, and trained bands of 500 or 600 men.'"

* Streusand 2011 p263
"Almost all zamindars had military retainers; many had guns, war elephants, and small forts.  These small peasant armies gave the zamindars considerable leverage in local affairs, permitting them to collect the revenue that gave substance to their status.  The absence of imperial control over the zamindar armies indicates the real autonomy of most zamindars, who were required to provide auxiliary forces for imperial operations in their areas but did not otherwise support imperial authority except insofar as their role in revenue collection did so.
    "The enormous pool of potential peasant soldiers, the limited capabilities of the Mughal central army, the restricted central control over mansabdar contingents, and the autonomy of the zamindar forces meant that the Mughals always faced the possibility of revolt in the provinces.  Zamindar revolts -- normally clashes between zamindars and imperial assignees over revenue -- were not uncommon but rarely posed more than a local problem. Indeed, the Mughal central government responded to these disorders not on principle but in order to provide the jagirdar with his salary."


* Stone 1934 p623-624
"TORADAR. India, a matchlock gun. The guns of Central and Northern India belong mainly to two classes, both of which were used throughout these regions. The first has a very slim, straight stock of pentagonal section and quite a light barrel; the second has a curved stock of diamond section and a very heavy barrel much enlarged at the breech. Both have the regular Indian type of lock. The pan cover usually swings on a pin, but is sometimes a loose clamp fitting over and under the pan. Both types have iron reinforcing plates each side of the stock extending for some distance on each side of the lock. In both the barrel is fastened to the stock by coils of wire or rawhide which frequently pass over silver saddles on the barrel. The first type has often the ogival Turkish back sight, but more often an open V. The second nearly always has a very large open back sight. The muzzles of both are generally reinforced by moulded rings and the front sights are made very long so as to show above them. Sometimes the front sight is the nose of a man or beast carved on the front ring. In many cases the barrels are of fine twist damask, and the plates by the locks are often of watered steel. The barrels are occasionally square, and some even have square bores. The barrels are frequently carved and inlaid. The stocks are painted, carved and inlaid or mounted with embossed metal inlaid or enameled. Both types generally have a clevis for a sling strap and some have two. The first type is from three to six feet long; the second varies less being always between five and six feet." [referfences omitted]

* Wilkinson 1974 p24
"In India the matchlock was to continue in use right up to the early part of this century, and generally speaking the Indian matchlock is known as a torador or bundook. On these weapons their serpentine operates differently from that of the Western version with the arm swinging forward towards the touch hole, away from the shooter, exactly the opposite to the system most commonly used on the European muskets. In addition the barrels tend to be very much longer and smaller bored than their European counterparts. The stocks on most of the Indian ones are very straight with only a slight droop to the butt, which is usually fairly basic in shape and lacks the deep curing heel common on most European ones. Often the barrel on the Indian matchlock is beautifully carved and chiselled and is secured to the stock either by metal bands, capuchins, or by thongs of rawhide. Triggers and muzzles are often finely chiselled, frequently in the form of animals."

* Fryer 1969 p17
"Toradar  An Indian matchlock gun.  It has a fullstock and slender, straight, flat-sided butt.  The barrel is held to the stock by a number of bands, usually metal and frequently ornamental."

* Stone 1934 p102
"BARUTDAN. The Indo-Persian powder flask for charge powder. They vary greatly in size, shape and material, none of which seems to be entirely characteristic of the locality from which they come. The decoration is slightly more distinctive as the Persian designs and workmanship are generally better than the Indian. When figures are introduced it is easier to differentiate. Barutdans are made of metal, bone, horn, ivory, paper, shell, wood, leather and stone, and are decorated in all of the ways known."

* Treasures from the Tower of London 1982 p116 (describing an Indian barutdan, late 18thc)
"In India a very distinctive form of powder-flask developed, shaped as a broad horn, with the tip curling round in a tight curve to meet or nearly meet one side of the flask just beneath the top.  Sometimes these horn-shaped flasks were made of horn, but often they were constructed instead of other materials such as leather and wood.  Both plain and decorated examples are complete with a set of pouches, presumably intended to contain matches, wads, balls and other accessories."


* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p41
"In the late 18th century this type of armour [mail and plate] was replaced by a new type, copied from contemporary Persian armour in which a cuirass of four plates joined by straps, called the chahar a'ineh, or 'four mirrors' was worn over a mail shirt (zereh).  At the same time the manufacture of mail in Indian changed, from the effective riveted mail which had been used since the early Middle Ages to a far more decorative but ineffective type of mail in which the ends of each link were merely butted together.  Different materials (iron, brass and copper) were used for the mail links, grouped together in geometrical or sometimes calligraphic patterns."

* Nicolle/McBride 1993 p44-45 (reconstructing a Rajput Zamindar, early to mid-18th C.)
"Certain aspects of costume characterised the 18th-century Hindu Rajput elite, most obviously coats with very full lower skirts.  This Hindu cavalry leader wears another form of mail-and-plate helmet with face-covering mail aventail, and a chahar-aina cuirass supported by shoulder straps strengthened with strips of mail."

* Paul 2005 p116
"Indo-Persian armour ... consisted of the helmet (tope), cuirass in four sections (char-aina), mail shirt (zirah), mail trousers, armguard (bajuband or bhujaband), gauntlet (dastana), and leather shoes (jootis) over which mail and plates were attached."

* Robinson 1967 p43
"Padded clothing worn beneath the armour seldom survived. An Indian quilted jacket for wear with armour of Persian fashion is in the Tower collection.  It is of green silk and only lightly quilted with rows of vertical stitching."

* Elgood 2004 p238
"It seems likely that the Sanskrit channavīra or flat disc, worn on the chest and said to symbolise the warlike qualities of Krishṇa
and Lakshmaṇa, was a precursor of this armour.  The origin of the disc derives from the sun, as does the chakra.  The sun is both divine and the source of weapons in many traditions and these related, spiritually charged objects are intended to infuse the owner with power, a belief seen at the Navrātri festival when the brahmans [SIC] suspend a chakra from the breast or arm of the ruler to give him protection from his enemies and honour from his subjects."


* Stone 1934 p270
"GURZ.  A mace, India.  The head may be pear-shaped or flanged."  [reference omitted]

* Pant 2005 p91
"The gurz had a spherical head and several pointed spikes were attached to it.  The handle was made of steel and was ninety to a hundred and twenty centimetres in length.  Some gurz were fitted with sword hilts."

* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p33
"The mace (gorz) was used extensively in northern India.  Not only did it have a symbolism of office and chivalry among the Turks, but it was also an effective combat weapon against an armoured foe, so became a favourite weapon for cavalry combats.  Most Indian maces are therefore quite short and designed to be wielded in one hand.  Some are fitted with sword hilts, mostly of the old Indian basket variety."


* Arts of the Muslim knight 2008 272
"The sculpted gazelle forming the back of the blade is reminiscent of Rajastani workmanship of the eighteenth to nineteenth century."

* Treasures of Islam 1985 p315 (David Alexander & Howard Ricketts, "Arms and Armour" p294-317) (describing a similar axe, second half 18th century)
"Wilkinson gives it a slightly earlier dating to the 17th century.  However, the floral decoration seems to derive more from 18th-century ornament."


* Paul 1995 p55 (substantially repeated in Paul 2005 p51-55)
"[T]he traditional Rajput khanda remained an important weapon during Mughal times.  It had changed over the years and now had a broad straight blade, widening slightly towards the point.  The blade is generally 90 centimetres in length.  It is single-edged from the top and double edged towards the point.  Most khandas of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, found chiefly in museums, have their blades reinforced with narrow fretted strips of steel running down the length of the reverse edge and several inches down the edge from the root.  This enabled the blade not only to be light and elastic while the reinforcement gave it strength and stiffness.  The old Indian hilt was, however, supplanted and improved by the Hindu basket hilt, which was padded to reduce the shock of blows.  The basket hilt may have been derived from similarly hilted European swords.  From the top of the pommel protruded a spike which not only acted as a guard for the arm but could also be gripped by the left hand while making a two handed stroke.  The khanda was a cutting and slashing weapon.  The sword that James Tod mentions as being worshipped was the khanda, probably mounted by the old Indian hilt.  He goes on to add that 'Tradition has hallowed the two edged khanda of Mewar, investing it with a mysterious origin.  It is supposed to be the enchanted weapon fabricated by Viswacarma with which he girded the founder of the race and led him forth to the conquest of Chittor.'"

* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p57
"The characteristic sword of Rajasthan was the khanda.  It had a basket hilt with a straight, often leaf-shaped, blade.  This sword was so important in Rajput society that it was worshipped in a ritual called the kharga shapna during the festival dedicated to the God of War."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Sukhela (1935.48.11)
"The khanda plays a central role in the nine-day Hindu festival of Nauratra in Rajasthan and other Rajput areas. Nauratra glorifies the war-goddess Durga and the war-god Shiva, who are seen as wife and husband in some branches of Hinduism, though not in others. On the fourth day of Nauratra, the Rajput prince goes in procession to his local chaugan, a grassed ceremonial ground, where he oversees the slaughter of a buffalo. Then he proceeds to the Temple of Durga. Here, he performs Kharga Shapna, 'The Imprecation of the Sword', where he worships the khanda and the standard of the Raj Jogi, the high priest of Shiva. In this way, the prince pays homage to Shiva and Durga, making offerings of sugar-water and rose-garlands. Having performed this devotion, the prince leaves the temple and proceeds to a nearby location, where a second buffalo has been staked. He ritually sacrifices this animal by shooting it with an arrow."

* Harlan 2003 p23
"It is widely believed that feeding the goddess, who embodies shakti (power) and indeed bears the epithet Shakti, enables devotees to wield weapons infused with shakti/Shakti. ... [T]he sword itself is often referred to as shakti and identified with and as the goddess.  Moreover, swords and other sharp weapons drink blood, chew and spit pan (a concoction with various ingredients including betel nut, which dyes lips and saliva blood red), and so forth.  Weapons that have tasted blood acquire blood lust.  Craving more victims and prepared for carving, they are worshiped with special reverence on Dashara.  Such powerful and hungry weapons have protected and empowered many devotees who feed the goddess and from among whom she receives her special protégé-victims, who choose to offer themselves as balidan, a sumptuous meat sacrifice."

* Fryer 1969 p86
"Khanda  An Indian sword with broad spatulate blade.  The back edge often had a strengthening band of ornamental steel.  The hilt had a double-lobed guard with broad knuckle-bow and disc-shaped pommel.  A curved spike continued from the pommel and this was used to obtain extra grip when the sword was used as a two-handed weapon.  The khanda-type hilt is sometimes found on other Indian swords, e.g. firangi and tulwar; also on maces."

* Rawson 1968 p28
"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. ...  It is a very good hilt indeed.
    "Most of the eighteenth-century Khandas that survive have their blades reinforced with narrow fretted strips of steel running down the length of the reverse edge and several inches down the edge from the root of the blade.  The reason for this is probably that the virtures of lightness, elasticity, and strength can only be combined in a blade by the sacrifice of some of its stiffness, and the reinforcements compensate for the sacrifice.
    "The Khanda with the Hindu Basket hilt is the characteristic weapon of the Central and East Central Indian tract during the last three centuries.  It is likely that the sword Tod mentions as being worshipped by the Rajputs was the Khanda, probably mounted in an Old Indian hilt.  Its combination in the worship with the 'standard of the Raj Jogi', presumably the Saiva trisula, suggests that it was intended to represent the Goddess, a practice which can be paralleled in many parts of Hindu India."


* Rawson 1968 p30
"[A]ll the sword forms known from the North-West, both from works of art and surviving examples, are versions of the Talwar.  Although during the late eighteenth century the cities of the North-West passed under Sikh and Rajput rule, the sword made and used there remained the Talwar.  In the ornament of the weapons, however, the craftsmen returned to Hindu motives for inspiration.  For example at Lahore, whereas under the Mughals sword blades had been chiselled with rows of animal and human figures in Persian style, under the Sikhs the same type of chiselled work was carried on, but the figures were of Hindu origin, such as Avatars of Vishnu, or the Planetary Divinities.  The lesser elements of design, however, remained fixed in the Islamic tradition."

* Withers 2010 p93
"The talwar in battle  Being a curved sword, the talwar was useful when striking against bone or armour because it would not easily become embedded, as in the case of straight blades.  The Rajput horsemen had a fearsome reputation for wildly attacking infantry formations, and, at close quarters, the short, spiked end on some talwars was efficient at stabbing an opponent in his face if unprotected.
    "The talwar in Indian culture  An extremely important symbol of Rajput traditions and customs, the talwar sword also became an inseparable part of their culture.  It was used to bestow honours and titles to tribal chiefs and it symbolized prestige and honour.  In the case of a groom being unable to attend his own wedding due to illness, his personal talwar sword could be sent along to take his place and so enable the wedding rituals to continue without him.
    "An oath of allegiance to a tribal clan was also sworn on a talwar sword by Rajput warriors. It comprised the words dhal talwar ki aan ('by the honour of my sword and shield')."

* Elgood 2004 p184
"Tavernier wrote that the European use of the point in fencing was unknown to the Indians and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was noted that the Indians used a number of cuts unknown in Western sabre practice.  Burton wrote that the Indians never thought to thrust with the point, describing two principal cuts, one to the shoulder, the other to the lower legs, called qalam, which Irvine suggests comes from qalam kardan, the Persian verb to lop or prune.  Not surprisingly, swordsmen were expected to make frequent and athletic leaps into the air.  Colonel Blacker suggested that the Indian cutting stroke was the only one capable of penetrating the layers of cloth in turbans and quilted jacket armour.  'The native practice not only requires a stiff wrist, but a stiff though not a straight elbow, for a cut that shall disable.'  If correct this would explain the popularity of the guantlet sword.
    "Because of the protective value of cloth armour, heavy swords such as the tegha were popular but they required considerable strengthening exercise with dumb-bells (mudgar/moghdhur) and chain bow (lezam).  The latter was a stiff bamboo bow, strung with a chain to which weights were added as required.  This was flexed to the fullest extent using either arm.  Mrs Meer Hassan Ali, resident in Hindustan in the early nineteenth century, described how the young men exercised with the moghdhur and believe this is [sic] greatly beneficial to their sabre practice.  'They go so far as to say that they only use the sword well who have practiced the moghdhur for several years.  At their sword exercise, they practice "the stroke" on the hide of a buffalo, or on a fish called rooey, the scales of which form an excellent coat of mail, each being the size of a crown piece, and the substance sufficient to turn the edge of a good sabre.  The fish is produced alive from the river for this purpose; however revolting as the practice may appear to the European, it does not offend the feelings of the Natives, who consider the fish incapable of feeling after the first stroke; but, as regards the buffalo, I am told the most cruel infliction's [sic] have been made by men who would try their blade and their skill on the staked animal without mercy.'  A miniature in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum, attributed to Nainsukh about 1750, shows a rāja using his sword on a carp."

* Fryer 1969 p89
"Tulwar  The Indian curved sword.  The hilt usually has a knuckle-bow and has a disc pommel, and is frequently damascened.  The blade is single-edged and often of finely watered steel."

* Edgerton 1968 p105
"The broad curved sword (teghá) is in use among the Hindu Rángars and Mahomedan Rajputs.  The long cut-and-thrust blade, like the Andrea Ferrara, is not uncommon, but the chief favourite of all the various swords found throughout Rajputana is the Sirohi, a slightly curved blade, shaped like that of Damascus."

* Stone 1934 p608
"TEGHA.  An Indian sabre with a broad, curved blade and a hilt like that of a talwar.  It was used by both Mahrattas and Rajputs." [reference omitted] 


* Paul 2005 p124
"Metal shields of iron or steel were damascened in gold and silver, enamelled, chiselled or lacquered.  On other shields the bosses became the focal points of decoration.  Shields studded with precious and semi-precious stones were not uncommon.
    "Like all other arms, shields were venerated and at Rajput court they were deemed the only suitable salvers for presentation of gifts."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Red dhal (1935.48.29)
"The quintessential Indian round shield was known as a dhal. Made of steel or lacquered hide (as this one is), they have a convex shape and were held by passing an arm through two handles on the back. The handles are fastened by ring bolts, which are riveted to four bosses on the shield's face. The large, smooth surface of the dhal gave Indian craftsmen an opportunity to indulge their passion for decoration."

* Elgood 2004 p244
"Dhāl (Hindī) Circular, convex shield."

* Fryer 1969 p85
"Dhal  A circular shield used in India, Persia and other Asian countries.  It is made of hide, brass or steel (often engraved and damascened) and usually has four domed bosses."

Daggers (Katar, Khanjar, Pesh Kabz)

* Paul 2005 p65
"In the eastern world there has been constant cultural cross fertilization and individual designs have spread far beyond their places of origin.  Consequently, there is a vast variety of daggers in India, some designed as combat weapons, others as items of personal adornment, and yet others which are products of pure fantasy."

​* Rogers 2010 p372 (describing a dagger, Rajasthan or Deccan 18th century)
"Edged weapons with hilts of fragile materials, such as jade, were for formal wear, not for use, though they tend to copy well-established models, such as weapons in base metal used in the Battle of Adoni (1689 AD)."


* Untracht 1997 p