A sabre hilt of the Maharaja Sir Fateh Singh of Udaipur




India, Rajasthan (Jaipur)


Circa 1900


Casting, forging, enameling


Gold, enamels


Length 180 mm; pommel diameter 77 mm

An udaipuri type gold hilt is skillfully decorated with minakari / meenakari work. The grip, pommel, quillons and langets are enameled in polychrome with vegetal and animal motifs on a white ground with a faint greenish tint. The conical pommel spike is decorated with white, green and dark blue enamels in a zigzag design or "lehria".

COMMENT. Udaipuri is a type of the Indo-Muslim hilt, which is characterized by a diamond-shaped grip, a wide and flat disc pommel, elongated rectangular langets and strongly waisted quillons with disc-shaped ends. The pommel dome is topped by a conical spike. The knuckle-bow is rare. This type of hilt is historically associated with Udaipur that is a large city in the present-day Indian state of Rajasthan, the former capital of the Rajput princely state of Mewar. The presented hilt was originally part of the magnificent talwar sabre, which belonged to the Maharaja Sir Fateh Singh of Udaipur (r. 1881-1930). Despite being connected with Udaipur, the hilt was made to order along with the scabbard in Jaipur, one of the largest centres of Indian art of enameling, commonly known as "minakari / meenakari". The luxurious decoration of the hilt exhibits a typical of Jaipur type of minakari / meenakari work called "pachrangi mina", literally "five-color enamel". The enamel decoration is created on gold using five colors, namely opaque white, opaque light blue, transparent dark blue, transparent green and transparent red (see Untracht, O. Traditional Jewelry of India. – London, 2008. – P. 362). The sabre of Sir Fateh Singh was not only shown at the Delhi Exhibition of 1903, but was also presented in its official catalogue as one of the best samples of the Jaipuri enameling style (see Watt, G. Indian Art at Delhi, 1903: Being the Official Catalogue of the Delhi Exhibition, 1902-1903. – Calcutta, 1903. – P. 462-463, pl. 67, no. 3). Another sabre from Jaipur decorated in a similar style is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (inv. no. 110 to B-1852; see Sharma, R.D., Varadarajan, M. Les Bijoux Artisanaux Indiens en Émail. – Paris, 2004. – P. 12).

LITERATURE: Сиваченко Е. Сталь и Золото: Восточное оружие из собрания Feldman Family Museum = Steel and Gold: Eastern Weapons from the Feldman Family Museum Collection. – Киев, 2019. – С. 546-547, №227.