A motipada style talwar sabre




India (probably Rajasthan)


Late 18th or early 19th century


Forging, casting, piercing, chasing, engraving, inlaying, gilding, gem-setting


Steel, silver, gold, rubies, emeralds, turquoise, wood, velvet


Overall length (without scabbard) 928 mm; blade length 812 mm; scabbard length 855 mm

The curved, single-edged blade is made of watered steel with a ricasso, a false edge, a reinforced tip and two long fullers on each side. One long and two short decorative channels within the blade contain a large number of freely moving steel balls. The long channel stretches almost to the tip, and numerous narrow slits are arranged along it on both sides of the blade. In addition, each side of the blade is decorated with two flower heads inlaid with gold and set with gems in the kundan technique. The silver-gilt aurangzebi type hilt is chased in relief with birds, vegetal motifs and foliate borders. The pommel is engraved with various animals. The S-shaped knuckle-bow terminates in a makara monster head. The pommel button has a through channel to attach a tassel or a wrist strap. Some parts of the hilt are further set with gems in kundan. Total 55 rubies, 29 emeralds, and 81 turquoise seeds on the hilt and the blade. The wooden scabbard is covered with red-brown velvet and is encased in gilt sheet silver pierced and engraved with hunting scenes and vegetal motifs. 

COMMENT. Talwar is the most common type of Indian sabre, which was used by both cavalry and infantry from the 16th to the 19th centuries. It is characterized by a slightly or medium curved, single-edged blade with a ricasso and false edge. Another feature of the talwar is the one-piece metal hilt with a disc pommel, which is also known as "disc hilt" or "Indo-Muslim hilt". The talwar was most popular in North India during the Mughal period (1526-1858). In addition, it was the favorite weapon of the Rajput warriors. The presented example is distinguished not only by its complex decor, but also by the presence of decorative channels that have narrow side slits and contain freely moving small balls. They are called "motipada", which means "moving pearls" in Hindi. Other variant spellings are motipuda, motipata, as well as moti davati. Such blades began to be manufactured in both India and Iran circa the 17th century. The decorative channels were filled at first with pearls or ruby balls, while steel balls became widespread in the 19th century. In Persian literature, the balls within the blades were poetically referred to as "the tears of Allah", "the tears of the wounded", and "the tears of the afflicted". 

LITERATURE: 1) Сіваченко Є. Холодна зброя Сходу з колекції Олександра Фельдмана: [фотоальбом]. – Харків, 2009. – С. 22-23; 2) Hales, R. Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion. – London, 2013. – P. 186, no. 442; 3) 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. 292-295, №107.