Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1783 Sindi alighol
Subjectalighol warrior
Culture: Sindi
Setting: Sindh 18-19thc

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

* Egerton 1968 p137
"Sir Henry Elliot remarks that the practice of dismounting previous to coming to close combat is of common observance among many of the border tribes between Sind and Rajputana, and is frequently alluded to in their local histories.  Indeed, to this day, the Sindians are, unlike most Asiatic nations, still somewhat repugnant to fighting on horseback, and pride themselves on being foot soldiers than cavalry."

* Ondaatje 1996 p287
"There is a peculiar Sindhi custom alluded to by Sir Henry Elliot, and mentioned in the Táríkh-i-Sind (History of Sind): namely, that the practice of dismounting before coming to close combat is common among many of the border tribes between Sindh and Rajaputana.  The Sindhis, unlike most Asiatic warriors, found it repugnant to fight on horseback, and prided themselves more on being foot soldiers than cavalry.
    "The Táríkh-i-Sind says, 'When they saw the army of the Moghals, they dismounted from their horses, took their turbans from off their heads, and, binding the corners of their mantles or outer garments to one another, they engaged in battle; for it is the custom of the people of Hind and Sind, whenever they devote themselves to death, to descend from their horses....'"

* Irvine 1903 online p164 
​"Alighol. In the later years we find a class of troops known as 'Alighol', who from one passage (Fraser, 'Skinner', ii, 75, 76) would seem to have been the equivalent of the ghazis, as we now style them, so frequently heard of on our Afghan frontier. Fraser defines them as 'a sort of chosen light infantry of the Rohilla Patans : sometimes the term appears to be applied to other troops supposed to be used generally for desperate service'. They are also mentioned in V. Blacker, 'War', 23. W. H. Tone, 50, makes out the Alighol to be one of the divisions of the Nezib[.]"

* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p58
"Sind cavalry was unusual in India and the Muslim world in preferring to fight dismounted -- sometimes the soldiers were tied together with their sashes to form an unbreakable barrier."


* Bull 1991 p174
"In the Scind region (now part of Pakistan), elaborate mounted armours were popular and continued to be made until quite recent times.  In their traditional form they were a mixture of mail and plate worn head to foot.  The plates were rectangular and articulated one to the next by links of mail.  The front of the coat of plates was laced together, and the head was completely enclosed with a shield-shaped facemask with stylized slots representing the eyes and nose, for vision and breathing."

* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p59
"[T]he medieval armour of mail and plate continued to be manufactured into the 19th century."


* Egerton 1968 p136
"Postans describes the Sindian arms as being of very superior quality, 'particularly matchlock barrels, which are twisted in the Damascus style.  The nobles and chiefs procure many from Persia and Constantinople, but nearly as good can be made in the country.  They are overlaid with gold, and very highly finished. The European lock is attached to the Eastern barrel, and our guns and barrels are only prized for this portion of their work.  The best of 'Joe Manton' and 'Purdy' guns, of which sufficient to stock a shop have at various times been presented to the Sindian chiefs by the British Government, share this mutilating fate.  The Sind matchlock is a heavy, unwieldy arm, the stock much too light for the great weight of the barrel.'"

* Stone 1934 p262
"In Sind and on the Afghan border matchlocks with deep, thin and exceedingly crooked stocks are used.  Some of them have very beautiful twist barrels and gold mountings finely enameled."

* Fryer 1969 p1
"Afghan Butt  A distinctive form of stock found on guns from Sind.  The butt has a pronounced curve behind the lock and then sweeps into a wide end, its shape appearing to be almost triangular."

* Wilkinson 1974 p24
"A few matchlocks with very pronounced curved butts are found; this shape originated in the northern part of India and is usually known as an Afghan stock, but in fact they come from Sind."

* Elgood 1995 p


* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Composite bow (1907.10.7) (discussing a Sindhi bow)
"Although clearly related to the Turko-Persian Asiatic bow form, composite bows from the Indian Subcontinent tend to be smaller in size and less masterfully crafted than those further west. One reason for this is that they use more sinew than bone in their construction. The sinew must be softened by being immersed in water, but over-soaking can sometimes also affect the springiness and power of the bow. Thus, many Indian bows ... prioritise decoration over functionality".


* Stone 1934 p112
"BHUJ, KUTTI.  A short, heavy, single-edged knife blade mounted in line with a straight handle about twenty inches long.  It was quite common in India, particularly in Sind and the north.  It is sometimes called an 'elephant knife' because there is usually an elephant's head at the base of the blade.  It frequently has a small knife concealed in the handle."

* Tarassuk/Blair 1979 p83
"bhuj (or kutti) A characteristic dagger from the state of Sind in northern India, the bhuj is also called an 'elephant knife' because of the representation of an elephant's head which is usually part of the decoration, either chased on metal at the heel or modeled in brass between haft and blade. The blade is single-edged, with a short back edge at the point, between 18 and 26 cm. (7-10 in.) long. It is rather broad and heavy, slightly curved, often with an engraved or gilded silver mount. The haft consists of a metal rod, also usually engraved or inlaid with silver, and finished off with a decorative knob which is, in fact, frequently the pommel of a screw-in dagger contained in the hollow haft. An embossed copper sheath usually completes the weapon, which may measure 41-61 cm. (16-24 in.) overall."

* Elgood 2015 p280
"Mujawli.  Marwari word for the weapon known to modern collectors as a bhuj."

* Byam 1988 p23 caption
"INDIAN BATTLE AXE  Known as a bhuj, this knifelike battle-axe from north India is also called an 'elephant's head' because of the characteristic decoration often found between the shaft and the blade."

* Fryer 1969 p84
"Bhuj  An Indian hand weapon with broad heavy single-edged knife blade mounted in line with its haft.  The blade is about 6 inches long and the haft, about 20 inches in length, often has a small knife which screws into the base.  The bhuj is usually quite elaborate, being gold or silver damascened and sometimes having an elephant -head motif inset with semi-precious stones at the base of the blade."

* Elgood 2015 p206
"These weapons are invariably referred to by curators and collectors as Bhuj, the name taken from the town in Kutch where this example and many like it were made in the nineteenth century.  This name is not known in Rajasthan or in the Deccan where the weapon is rarely used.  Mujawli is said to be the Gujarati name."

* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p59 = Royal Armouries Museum > Oriental Gallery
"The characteristic weapon of Gujarat is an axe with a heavy dagger-like blade springing from an elephant head.  These weapons are often called bhuj after the town in Kutch with which they are associated."

* Elgood 2004 p


* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p59
"Sind was one area where the Persian style of sword (shamshir) with its characteristic pistol grip was preferred ...."