Sword Of The Maratha’s “Bhawani”
Bhawani Talwar also known as the sword of the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, great warrior and founder of the Maratha dynasty. These straight blades of Bhavani/ Bhawani Talwar were introduced by the Portuguese to the Maratha’s. The basket hilt, also known as “Muleri Muth” in Maharashtra was added to it. It also came to be known as “Firangi” or “Jagdamba” in the late medieval periods.
The Bhawani Talwar sword belonged to Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, King of Maratha-land, a state in south-west India. Shivaji was born in 1627 and was the founder of Maratha power in India. Leading his people against the dominant Muslim rule in 1659, Sivaji controlled most of the western portion of the country.
What is the class (type) of the Bhawani Talwar?
Bhawani was also described as a Genoa blade, of fine temper. The sword itself was the most fatal weapon of that time. The sword characteristically had a long, 89 to 96 centimetres (35 to 38 in), straight blade of either broadsword (two-edged) or, more commonly, backsword (single-edged) form. The blade often incorporated one, two, or three fullers (grooves) and had a spear-tip shaped point. The sword could be used to both cut and thrust. Examples with narrow rapier blades have survived, though in small numbers. The hilt was of the type sometimes called the “Indian basket-hilt” and was identical to that of another Indian straight-bladed sword the khanda.
The hilt afforded a substantial amount of protection for the hand and had a prominent spike projecting from the pommel which could be grasped, resulting in a two-handed capability for the sword. Like other contemporary Indian swords, the hilt of the Bhawani was usually of iron and the tang of the blade was attached to the hilt using a very strong resin, additionally, the hilt to blade connection was reinforced by projections from the hilt onto either face of the forte of the blade which was riveted together through a hole passing through the blade. The finest examples of this type of sword can have extensive gold “koftgari” decoration on both hilt and blade. There is more information about the Bhawani sword being a Genoa blade. If you look at some of the old paintings of Shivaji, it seems that the sword on his right arm was a Patta or Dandpatta, which has an integrated gauntlet.
However, if we go by the description of the Bhawani, it could not have been a Patta. The existence of a spike means that there could not have been a gauntlet. So, while the blade itself was imported from Portuguese, the class of the sword is an entirely different matter, because the sword was crafted locally. A distinction needs to be made between the blade and the sword. As regards the Jagdamba sword. Yet it is commonly assumed that the Jagdamba was gifted to Edward VII, the Prince of Wales, during his visit to India. It’s a badly cropped image, so there is no way to clearly state that this is a straight blade or a curved one. Also, there are images of two swords. A look across various old illustrations of Shivaji indicates the possibility of the Bhawani sword being a straight blade and not a scimitar.
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