Dr Robert Elgood FSA


The Estate of Major General Claude Martin at Lucknow

The Estate of Major General Claude Martin at Lucknow

Elgood, Robert. Claude Martin’s Armoury at Lucknow. The Estate of Major General Claude Martin at Lucknow: An Indian Inventory, edited by Rosie Llewellyn-Jones. Cambridge Scholars, 2021, pp48-64.

This volume offers a unique glimpse into a European household in 18th century India. Claude Martin was an entrepreneurial Frenchman who settled in Lucknow, capital of the rich Muslim state of Awadh (Oudh). The book presents the inventory of his houses here for the first time, together with the catalogue of books from his library. It gathers together six experts to examine Martin’s numerous possessions, and discuss his paintings, silverware, jewellery, textiles, weapons, carriages, boats and hot air balloons. His collection of scientific items imported from the best European instrument makers reveals his practical experiments with electricity and astronomy, while his buildings exploited hydraulic engineering to keep them cool.

Islamic Arms and Armour Book

Islamic Arms and Armour

"Does great credit to it's youthful editor."

Prof. David Bivar. SOAS Bulletin.

"One of the most important art books to appear since the War."

Terence Mullaly, Daily Telegraph.

Arms and Armour of Arabia in the 18th-19th and 20th Centuries Book

Arms and Armour of Arabia in the 18th-19th and 20th Centuries

"An important original study of an aspect of the history of arms and armour that has hitherto been completely neglected"

Claude Blair, Former Keeper of Metalwork at the V&A Museum

"No specialized study of Arab arms and armour has been hitherto available ....a coherent and lucid account which will surely remain a standard work of reference for a long time to come"

B.W. Robinson, F.B.A, F.S.A

"Elgood's approach is to place the artefacts which form the subject of his book into a well defined social and historical context. This reveals them to be of far greater significance than simply the wonderfully wrought weapons of war which they evidently are. In addition to providing a wealth of technical and military detail, the author is at pains to show the close relationship which, in time of peace as well as war, existed between Arabian men and the arms and armour which they carried."

Christopher Spring, Department of Ethnography, The British Museum

Firearms of the Islamic World Book

Firearms of the Islamic World

The first surviving reference to the use of gunpowder appears in a Chinese manuscript dating from 1044 AD. The formula for gunpowder was passed to the Arabs via India and Persia and its first use in firearms in Europe is reported at the Arab siege of Spain in 1324. While much has been written about the history of firearms in Europe and North America, their development in the Islamic world and their subsequent history there has been almost totally neglected.

Hindu Arms And Ritual: Arms And Armour From India 1400-1865 Book

Hindu Arms And Ritual: Arms And Armour From India 1400-1865

"This is a book not just for arms and armour specialists but for historians, art historians and anthropologists as well. A highly impressive and comprehensively illustrated work."

Professor James Allan, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

"This book is of exceptional importance to the study of Indian Arms and Armour. It classifies for the first time material dating from before 1600; dating and typology are fully supported by evidence from sculpture and other contemporary sources. Based upon objects front old Indian collections and major international museums, it is a fully researched, pioneering study of a hitherto misunderstood and neglected field."

Anthony North, Victoria and Albert Museum

Review for BSOAS, July 2005

312 pp. 342 figures. Delft: Eburon Academic Publishers, 2004. UKL 55, Euros 79.

This splendidly produced, generously illustrated and somewhat eccentrically organised volume is a landmark publication. Readers will be grateful to the author for gathering together all possible information pertaining to a vast array of little studied, but splendidly decorated weapons from Vijayanagara and the successor states of south India now widely dispersed in Indian, European and American collections. They should also appreciate his attempt to locate these objects within a specifically defined cultural and religious context. While other scholars specialising in arms and armour have tended to focus on north India under the Mughals and Rajputs, Elgood concentrates on the Deccan and south India, a region that has been unduly neglected in spite of the large numbers of surviving weapons and the miscellany of historical sources, including accounts of the European travellers.

The astonishing technical virtuosity of chiselled steel implements from the late Vijayanagara period is immediately apparent from the elephant goad (ankusa) illustrated on the cover of the book and the dagger (katar) shown in Figure 1.3. Among the most artistic metallic objects ever produced in south India, they are surely to be ranked with the finest bronze figurines of the region. Yet the aesthetic assurance of these and other such examples of the south Indian metalworker places them far beyond the realm of mere artefacts of warfare. Indeed, as the author takes pains to demonstrate in the various chapters, goads, daggers, swords, spears and axes of this type were all charged with magical powers so as to safeguard those who used them. As a means of ensuring cosmic protection these weapons came to be beautifully fashioned and richly embellished with a whole host of auspicious motifs. These included lions, serpents, peacocks, parrots and fantastic beasts (yalis), which were often combined into intricate and imaginative compositions.

The core of the book is a detailed description of no less than 600 individual specimens of arms and armour, which the author groups according to type and function. Thus we find separate chapters on the goad, sword, dagger, axe and mace, several categories of which are further subdivided according to their royal or religious context. Elgood presents photographs with extended captions giving technical details of manufacture, use and decoration -- data that has almost never been made available before. At the same time the author is concerned with underlying purpose and meaning. As a result, catalogue-like chapters focusing on specific groups of weapons, especially those from the Tanjore Armoury (mostly divided between the Government Museum in Chennai and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), alternate with short essays. Here the author offers discussions on subjects as diverse as an overview of warfare in Vijayanagara times, the role of weapons in the rituals of south Indian courts, the sacrificial axes employed in the worship of Hindu goddesses, and the recreational use of arms in exercises and exhibitions of prowess. Throughout, Elgood demonstrates an impressive command of current historical, ethnographical and archaeological literature, which he subjects to intense scrutiny in his search for clues as to the manufacture, use and significance of the various weapons. The result is a fascinating but dense list of facts that occasionally threatens to overspill his control of chronology and region. This is of little consequence considering the richness of the materials that he presents. Where else, for example, will readers learn that according to the Brhat Samhita, a 6th-century astronomical Sanskrit text, the shape and even the smell of a sword may have magical properties (p. 138), not unlike the red paste smeared onto the hilt a royal dagger to indicate the presence of the goddess Durga (p. 75). The author repeatedly reminds us that the splendidly chiselled and perforated animals and birds that decorate sword and dagger hilts perform a similarly apotropaic function, effectively shielding those who wield such weapons from negative forces.

It is in his typological discussions that Elgood demonstrates his greatest strength. Indeed, his technical classifications, terminologies and datings are likely to remain a benchmark for years to come. Wherever possible, the author compares actual weapons with representations of identical implements in contemporary art. Photographic details of armed rulers and mounted warriors carved onto granite columns will help readers understand how such weapons were once clutched firmly by the hand, held in the crook of the elbow, or tucked into a belt or sash. Details of paintings on temple ceilings or in miniature paintings on paper serve a similar purpose. One fascinating source is a chapter in the Nujum al- `Ulum a manuscript produced in Bijapur in 1570, now in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, in which both Deccan and south Indian swords and daggers are described and illustrated. The author offers a full translation of the accompanying texts.

While the chapters of the book under review here are occasionally marred by inaccurate spellings of place names, such as Ramesvarum instead of Ramesvaram (Figure 16.19) or Pratapgap rather than Pratapgad (p. 144), and deities (the Vardhamana temple at Kanchipuram is actually dedicated to Visnu under the name Vavadaraja), the correct spellings of different weapons are scrupulously maintained throughout. The volume concludes with a 36-page glossary of technical terms, certainly the most exhaustive ever attempted for the subject, and a thorough, up to date bibliography.

George Michell

Indian Art at Marlborough House Book

Purdon Clarke, C.

Indian Art at Marlborough House. With an introduction by G. Birdwood. London 1898.

Arms and Armour at Sandringham. The Indian Collection presented by the Princes, Chiefs and Nobles of India to H.M.King Edward VII when Prince of Wales on the occasion of his visit to India 1875-6. London 1910.

The two volumes republished in facsimile editions by Ken Trotman Books with a new introduction and additional colour photos by Robert Elgood. 2009.

"The work is indeed fascinating and contains a great deal of information that was new to me"

Claude Blair

The Arms of Greece and Balkan Ottomo Period Book

The Arms of Greece and her Balkan Neighbours in the
Ottoman Period

"A masterpiece ... Dr Elgood's scholarship is impeccable and this volume will become a standard reference"

Fred Wilkinson, Vice President of the Arms and Armour Society

"A masterwork"

David Edge F.S.A., Armourer to the Wallace Collection

"A major contribution to the study of Ottoman firearms and other weapons by one of the leading Islamic arms and armour specialists in the world"

Sheila Canby, Curator of Islamic Collections, The British Museum

"Fresh and convincing ... will undoubtedly become the standard reference on Balkan weapons"

Military Illustrated

"Elgood is an excellent guide to the subject"

The Art Newspaper

"The first comprehensive coverage in English ... to be most warmly welcomed ... a pioneering study of the subject that will remain the standard reference work long into the future"

The Burlington Magazine

The Burlington Magazine March 2011

352 pp. incl. 403 col. ills. (Thames & Hudson, London and New York, 2009), £42. ISBN 978-0-500-251577.

Reviewed by ALAN BORG

This books provides the first comprehensive coverage in English of a largely unknown academic field and is therefore to be most warmly welcomed. Although the bibliography lists over four hundred titles, closer inspection reveals that these are mostly background studies that are tangential to the main topic. Those that do relate directly to the central subject are for the most part articles in relatively obscure journals, many in languages that will defeat the average British reader. The reason for the neglect is that in the past the study of arms and armour has concentrated on three fields: the ancient world, Western Europe and America, and the orient, especially Japan and India. The Balkans have been largely forgotten and are usually only mentioned in a somewhat disparaging fashion - elaborately patterned swords and daggers are dismissed as no more than Balkan bling, while the firearms have been seen as equally tasteless and technically inferior to those made in the mainstream European centres.

There are some specific reasons for this. Although, as Robert Elgood demonstrates, both arms and armour were very widely manufactured in the Balkans, what was produced has long been blandly described as 'Turkish'. This is largely because such Balkan-made arms were traded primarily through Istanbul and Cairo, so finding their way into all corners of the Ottoman Empire. Furthermore, by historical accident many of the best collections of Balkan arms are now to be found in museums in Greece, where they have to compete for attention with the antiquities that are the standard fare of such institutions.

The quality of both arms and armour produced in the Balkans is certainly variable, and some pieces deserve the low opinions expressed in the past, but a great many more do not. This book's numerous excellent colour illustrations reveal weapons of elegance and sophistication, often decorated in distinctive styles that can now be associated with particular towns and makers. Some of the Ledenica pistols from Montenegro have a refinement and elegance that can compare with the best silverwork from Brescia. Just as interesting but less accomplished examples, deriving from Italian models, were made by the gunmakers of Tetovo, Dibra and Elbasan, together with the brass and silver mounted rat-tail' pistols made in Ioannina in Epirus in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Edged weapons also exhibit a range of decorative embellishment, and the Islamic market had a particular liking for coral encrustation, normally mounted on gold and silver sheathed hilts and scabbards.

Although the largest part of this book is devoted to the study of firearms, an important section considers the clothing and accessories worn and carried by Balkan warriors. It is clear that richness of dress, including the quality of decoration on personal weapons, was a recognised indication of status. Swords and pistols would be hung from a habak, a form of baldric made from silk cords and huge tassels normally imported from Egypt, but many of the other accoutrements, such as belts, pouches, powder flasks and cartridge cases, were locally made and highly decorative. One notable accessory was the chelenka, or turban plume, worn as a mark of valour in battle and often exquisitely decorated. These take the form of stylised feathers in gold, silver and enamel, creating abstract and elegant patterns. Equally striking are Toké which are breastplates consisting of silver studs or plates on a fabric backing. These provided great scope for decoration, with some of the finest examples coming from the towns on the Adriatic coast of Dalmatia. Many are inscribed with the name of their owner and also the name of the maker.

Despite Elgood's efforts, the history of the various centres of arms production in the Balkans, their division and classification remain complex topics, reflecting the ethnic and linguistic complexity of the region. Thus an arnautka is a distinctive T-shaped Albanian gun, but it was also made in Sarajevo and the central Balkans, where it was normally called a tancica or karanfilka, although the Greeks knew it as a lazarina or a kariophili. To complicate the issue, they were also made in Brescia. Another problem is dating, since the weapons themselves are seldom dated and particular styles and decorative features could continue unchanged for long periods of time. Western European arms were always prized and copied, so the stylistic mixture of their Balkan descendants is often hard to disentangle Elgood's knowledge of the historical background and his intelligent use of illustrative material, especially Louis Dupré's Voyages à Athènes et à Constantinople (1825; Fig.73), is helpful in establishing both the chronology and the geographical spread of the material. The book was published to coincide with a major exhibition of Greek and Balkan arms at the National Historical Museum in Athens in 2009, but instead of a catalogue we have a wide-ranging survey of the entire field. Research and publication were supported by the Stephanis Foundation, resulting in a pioneering study of the subject that will remain the standard reference work long into the future.

The Arms of Greece and Balkan Ottomo Period Book

Arms & Armour at the Jaipur Court - The Royal Collection

The Arms and Armour Newsletter. Embargoed until publication due Sept. 2015.

Following the Second World War the collecting of arms and armour changed from a limited market to a rapidly expending one. The change was attributed to a variety of causes including the influx of Americans troops who, as a nation, were more interested in antique weapons. The 1950s and 60s saw a further expansion as auction houses introduced regular sales; in London alone Sotheby's and Christies each held nine sales a year. In the late 60s the American-style, antique arms fairs reached the UK stimulating more interest. The obvious growth in demand encouraged publishers to produce relevant titles and magazines to include ‘collecting' articles.

The academic input to collecting literature blossomed and the 1960s saw a flood of carefully researched volumes by respected academics such as Blair, Hayward, Blackmore and others making it easier for collectors to identify and date objects. There was, however one limitation, the greater part of new information was mostly limited to European pieces with one exception. Japanese material had for long held a special interest for collectors and volumes by B.W. Robinson helped the beginner to understand the mysteries of the Japanese swords and armour. Material from the Balkans, the Near East and India were poorly served. It was not until 1967 that H, R. Robinson's book on Oriental armour shed some light on the eastern material. Weapons from India and the Near East tended to be described as Indo-Persian and largely ascribed to 18th and 19th centuries. A change started in 1979 when Robert Elgood produced his volume on Islamic Arms and Armour which was followed in 1994 by Arms and Armour of Arabia. To the delight of collectors he has continued his brilliant studies culminating in this present volume which gives the collectors and students so much help in identifying Islamic material; collectors now have reliable information to hand. Quite apart from the academic interest one of the most striking features of this volume is the superb photographs. The large format also allows one to see detail that would have been lost in a smaller format.

The author was allowed total access to the armoury and each item is described in detail with relevant comments, some of which may well cause some eyebrow-raising in some circles but statements are backed by reasoned arguments. The book's introduction traces the history of the Court of Jaipur and the contents of the armoury and it then deals with the various types of edged weapon ranging from daggers, swords, axes, firearms and there is a section devoted to Children's Arms. Pointers to date and origin are discussed as are details of decoration and design and, where appropriate, comparisons made. There are valuable End Notes, a Glossary and an extensive Bibliography. It is understood that Elgood has a second publication in preparation which will extend and develop some of the points made in this volume.

This author also wrote Arms of Greece in 2010 and opened up 'the ability to differentiate the precise source of supply of individual weapons that, until then, had just been lumped together as Turkish or Greek.' If there was ever any doubt as to the impact of serious research then an examination of the current prices of so-called Turkish pistols, previously dismissed as inferior, will show that they have rocketed in value as better identification has become possible.

For the collector and student Elgood's contribution to the study of arms and armour has been immense and these volumes will take their place among the classics.

Frederick Wilkinson FSA. Author and Vice President of the Arms and Armour Society.

ICOMAM Magazine. Issue 14 December 2015.

Members of ICOMAM who attended the 2012 confer- ence in Oman will remember meeting Robert Elgood and hearing his talk on a newly discovered sword of Sultan Sa'id bin Sultan al Bu Said of Muscat. Dr Elgood is one of the world's leading scholars of Islamic and Indian arms and armour and is known and respected in East and West alike. The publication of a new book by him is an event to be anticipated with relish as he writes well and always has something new and interesting to say. His latest book is no exception. It is a catalogue of the arms and armour in the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum in the City Palace, Jaipur. This collection was given to the museum in 1959 by the Maharaja Sawai Man Singhji and came from the royal armoury. Many of the pieces were acquired in the later 19th century and for some full provenances and acquisition records survive. By examining both the arms and the records, and by researching the collecting criteria and activities of the Maharaja Madho Singh and his associates, Dr Elgood has come to some startling and disturbing conclusions that add up to the fact that many items of Indian arms and armour are not necessarily as old as they seem. Maharaja Madho Singh opened a museum in 1881 that was, in the mould of the early Victoria and Albert Museum, a museum to celebrate the current craft and manufacturing skills of the country and region. Dr Elgood lays out a compelling case that some of the Indian arms in the collection that we would normally date to earlier periods were, in fact, bought new in the late-19th century and that others, are earlier, plain pieces to which decoration has been added in the late 19th century. This makes this catalogue of very great importance as it should force all those responsible for collections of Indian arms and armour carefully to reassess their holdings. As Robert Elgood shows, this re-evaluation is necessary in even the best, most respected and most well-known of museums.

However, this is not just a book for curators with direct responsibility for Indian collections. For those of us with less responsibility and a more dilettante interest in the subject there is much to admire and enjoy in its pages. 186 fine objects are described, discussed and illustrated with excellent photographs. Dr Elgood's text is a model of brevity. He makes his case clearly and concisely, and enlivens his discussions with fine stories, discursions into unexpected areas of knowledge and excellent pen portraits of the main characters involved. Whether or not you are an aficionado of Middle Eastern and Indian arms you will find much to delight in these pages and will learn some unexpected things, whether it be why so many decorated Rajput arms are now set with later replaced jewels, or how varied were the early sources of ivory. While many of pieces described were made in Rajput territories the collection encompasses all of India and extends to westwards to Persia and Europe, and eastwards to Japan.

In this volume you will find both beautiful and unusual things. The beauty comes in many forms. It can be found in the complex recurves of a Mughal helmet dating to around 1700, which is made in the form of a turban and decorated in gold with patterns found on textiles; on the wonderful chiselling on the grip of a 17th century katar from Deccan; in the fine silver and enamelled hilt of a 17th century Mughal tulwar, uniquely bearing silver marks; on the gilt and bejewelled head and butt of a 17th century imperial Mughal lance; on the painted hafts of four 19th century hunting lances made in Jaipur, the lacquered figure scenes on an earlier Jaipur shield which include one showing night hunting of deer with lamp and bow; and also in the fine craftsmanship and ingenuity shown by the craftsmen who in 1839 in Alwar made a European-style flintlock shotgun with a fine damascus twist barrel of externally serpentine form but internally with a straight bore.

And this last leads us to some of the more unusual things that the catalogue contains: a dagger with a hollow hilt containing all the implements required by a scribe; a tulwar within a tulwar; a combined mace, pistol, knife and crutch; and a curious and chilling arrow and bullet extractor. In addition there are described here items of very great importance, including an ivory archer's ring carved with what may be Christian figures which may well have belonged to Emperor Jahangir (ruled 1605-27). And finally there are some pieces that are either published for the very first time or for the first time shown to be so important. Chief amongst those must be the four-barrelled revolving pistol fired by a back-action lock mechanism with some characteristics of the later patilla miquelet. This pistol appears to date from about 1700 and the author argues that it was probably made in Goa. If this is correct it may help to shed light on how in the 16th century European guns influenced the development of Japanese firearms.

The catalogue is well-ordered with an excellent introduction that sets the scene and then ten chapters dealing with the different types of object in the collection. It is well referenced for those who wish to follow the details of the author's reasonings and researches. All in all this is a book that is very well worth acquiring. However, do keep some money saved for Dr Elgood's next volume, Rajput Arms and Armour: The Rathore Armoury at Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, in which he promises to reveal more details of his recent researches into the history of Indian arms and armour.

Guy M Wilson

Preetorius Foundation. December 2015.

Mit der Erfindung des Faustkeils vor etwa 2,5 Millionen Jahren wurde der Mensch zum Homo und mit diesem Werkzeug hatte er sich auch seine erste Waffe geschaffen. Archäologen und Paläontologen werden diese pauschale Aussage zu spezifizieren wissen, doch gewiss ist die Geschichte der Waffe so alt wie die Geschichte der Menschheit selbst. Die Sicherung der individuellen Existenz durch Nahrungsbeschaffung, durch Verteidigung oder auch durch Angriff bedurfte des Werkzeugs als Waffe, und das die Menschheit durch den Lauf der Zeit – bis heute muss man leider feststellen – begleitet hat. Auch das Bestreben des Menschen, nicht nur sich selbst, sondern auch den für ihn lebensnotwendigen Besitz, Kleidung, Werkzeug, Waffen, durch Farbe und Dekor zu individualisieren und zu verschönern, begann irgendwann im Dunkel der Frühgeschichte. Archäologisch und historisch belegt ist jedenfalls, dass Waffen jenseits ihres Gebrauchszwecks schon immer zu den bevorzugten Objekten dieser Dekorationslust gehört haben. Mit der Nutzbarmachung von Metall nahm nicht nur die Technologie der Waffe eine neue Dimension an sondern auch die Kunst der Dekoration dieses Materials erreichte immer neue Höhen. Das Beste dieser Kunst, Metall dekorativ zu verschönern, wurde schon immer für Ornamente auf Waffen und Rüstungen verwendet. Indien zur Zeit der Mogulkaiser und der Königshöfe der Rajputen, eine Zeit von Reichtum und Luxus, geprägt von legendärem Überfluss an Gold, Silber und edlen Steinen und einem Höhepunkt der Handwerkskunst, bietet hierfür treffliche Beispiele. Das Buch über die Waffen und Rüstungen der Maharajas von Jaipur ist daher ein Fest nicht nur für den Liebhaber von Waffen, sondern für jeden Bewunderer dekorativer Metallkunst. Gezeigt und sorgfältig beschrieben werden aus einem weit größeren Bestand knapp 200 aufwändigst verzierte Schwerter, Dolche, Lanzen, Speere und Schilde, Helme und Rüstungsteile, Pfeil und Bogen sowie Äxte, Streitkolben und andere Hiebwaffen, eine kleine Anzahl früher Gewehre und Pistolen und allerlei Zubehör historischer Kampf- und Kriegstechnik wie Bogenringe, Pulverbehälter und Ankus genannte Gerätschaften für die Lenkung der Kriegselefanten. Die Kombination von optimalem Nutzen durch Form und Qualität der stählernen Waffen mit der aufwändigen Gestaltung der Hefte, Handhaben und Behältnisse mittels ziselieren, damaszieren und inkrustieren unter Verwendung von Elfenbein und Jade, Diamanten, Rubinen und allem, was sonst noch edel, kostbar und selten ist – das ist angewandte Kunst von ihrer besten Seite und auf dem höchsten Niveau ihrer Zeit. Diese reicht vom 17. bis zum frühen 20. Jahrhundert, also von der Blüte des Mogulreiches über dessen Niedergang und die parallele Renaissance der Rajputenstaaten bis in die Zeit als sich die Maharajas mit den britischen Kolonialherren zu arrangieren hatten. Hier ist die äußerst lesenswerte Einführung von Robert Elgood zu erwähnen, die am Beispiel der Fürsten vom Amber aus der Dynastie der Kachhwahas auch eine Geschichte von Rajasthan ist und schließlich auch die Geschichte des Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museums in Jaipur, das die Waffensammlung heute beherbergt. Die Kachhwahas waren seit Akbar durch geschickte Heiratspolitik eine enge und unter Schah Jahan und Jahangier fortbestehende Allianz mit dem Mogulreich eingegangen und konnten so an seinem Reichtum, seiner Militärtechnik und dem blühenden Kunsthandwerk teilhaben. Als unter Aurangzeb der Zerfall des Mogulreiches begann hatte Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II seine Residenz längst vom Amber in das 1827 gegründete Jaipur verlegt, das sich mit den vom Mogulhof abgewanderten Künstlern und Kunsthandwerkern zu einer neuen Metropole entwickelte. Diese Entwicklung wurde unter der britischen Herrschaft durch progressive und kluge Maharajas und fähige britische Ratgeber weiter begünstigt und in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts wurde Jaipur nicht nur die fortschrittlichste Stadt Indiens, sondern auch ein blühendes Staatswesen, in dem Gesundheit, Erziehung, Handel, Landwirtschaft und Handwerk einen hohen Standard inne hatten. Die einem Colonel Thoma Holbein Hendley vom British Medical Service zu verdankende Gründung eines Museums nach dem Vorbild des Londoner Victoria & Albert im Jahre 1881 passte gut in dieses Bild. Das Museum hatte die Aufgabe, Kunsthandwerk als Vorbild und Anregung für aktuelle Produktionen zu sammeln, zu bewahren und zu zeigen; Alter und Herkunft der Objekte spielten dabei keine Rolle. Dieses Problem ist das zentrale und hoch interessante Thema in Elgoods Einführung. Jaipur hatte in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhundert eine blühende Waffenproduktion. Man trug noch Waffen, die moderne Stadt war ein Magnet für Touristen und es gab zusätzlich eine große Nachfrage aus Europa. Fähige Handwerker fertigten perfekte Kopien von historischen Waffen oder ältere, schlichte Waffen wurden aufwändig dekoriert. Auch die in dem Buch vorgestellte, königliche Sammlung, die Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II dem Museum, das seinen Namen trägt, im Jahre 1959 zum Geschenk machte, spiegelt diese Situation und die Schwierigkeit Alter und Herkunft mancher der Waffen exakt zu bestimmen. Ein Bonmot zum Abschluss: Noch heute werden in Jaipur Waffen gefertigt, vorwiegend für den reichen arabischen Markt. Diese neuen Arbeiten lassen diejenigen des späten 19. Jahrhunderts plötzlich sehr authentisch aussehen und belegen die hohe Qualität einer heute nicht mehr reproduzierbaren Handwerkskunst.

Michael Buddeberg

Rajput Arms & Armour Volumes I & II

The book is now published and is distributed in India by Niyogi Books, Delhi.

In Europe by: Shalimar Books Ltd.
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In North America by: Mr. John Brancati
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Rajput Arms & Armour - The Rathores & their Armoury at Jodhpur Fort

Review Article by Stephen Markel - DOWNLOAD PDF

Review by Vanna Scolari Ghiringhelli. Quaderni Asiatici 121 - marzo 2018, pp. 123-126.

2 volumi
Lingua inglese

Niyogi Books - Mehrangarh Museum Trust - New Delhi, 2017

Robert Elgood, Research Associate in the Art and Archaeology Dept. alla SOAS di Londra ha incominciato a scrivere questi due volumi nel 2006, trascorrendo 5 mesi all'anno in India, lavorando nel forte di Jodhpur e spostandosi qua e là in altre armerie per notizie e confronti. Tantissime difficoltà, compreso l'alta qualità e definizione delle 855 fotografie dei due libri. Prima di affrontare il contenuto del libro e si intende la descrizione delle armi e armature del forte di Jodhpur, é d'obbligo notare la prefazione di H.H. Gajsingh II Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur con la sua piacevole fotografia e l'interessantissimo 1° capitolo dedicato alla storia dei Rathore di Marwar (राठौड़ - clan Rajput), una parte storica piuttosto sconosciuta e molto utile per entrare, davvero entrare, nell'armeria del Forte del Sole – Mehrangarh - di Jodhpur e trovarsi a tu per tu con un guerriero Rajput così descritto da un detto popolare:

"Cavallo, vestito, baffi e spada di Marwar,
Queste cinque cose sono inseparabili da un Rajput Rathore".

Il 2° capitolo é un introduzione alle armi Rajput, il 3° é dedicato alla produzione e al commercio delle armi nel nord-ovest dell'India e il 4° agli artigiani, armaioli, artisti dell'armeria del Forte e i materiali usati. Un'estensione storico letteraria che incomincia a farci notare la bravura di Elgood che piuttosto di non essere chiaro e preciso, aggiunge un totale di ventuno pagine di note ai quattro capitoli iniziali, tipo: "Le spade con impugnatura in avorio vengono menzionate nel Mahabharata-II,47,14- Il re Bhagadatta di Pragiyotisa (Assam) regalò a Yudhisthira molte spade con l'impugnatura d'avorio in occasione del sacrificio di Rajasuya. Anche l'Arthasastra (libro II, XVII, p.111) menziona le impugnature di avorio". Forse una nota di questo genere non interessa a tutti, ma sicuramente é una bellissima sorpresa/notizia per chi si intrattiene con le armi.

A questo punto si é all'interno dell'Armeria e il lavoro dell'autore si rivela in pieno negli otto capitoli che portano alla fine del 1° volume e che contengono la descrizione delle varie armi: le spade antiche del Forte; le spade del Maharaja Ajit Singh; le spade del Maharaja Abhay Singh e del Maharaja Bakht Singh; le armi del tardo XVII sec. e della prima metà del XVIII; una miscellanea di armi del Mehrangarh di Jodhpur tra cui armi europee e le famose "firangi – फिरंग", spade di tipo europeo fabbricate in India. Questo particolare vocabolo ha il significato di "straniero", deriva dal persiano e significa "francese"; le spade dei Talpur del Sind, i cui signori preferivano le lame di damasco, i cavalli e i gioielli; impugnature di spada del XIX e XX sec con iscrizioni datate; le spade per bambini.

Il 2° volume consta di undici capitoli, sei appendici e due glossari, uno generale e uno specifico per le armi. Non é il caso di nominare tutte le armi descritte in questo libro, ma é senz'altro interessante segnalare i capitoli 15 e 16 che trattano le relazioni dei Rajput con i Mughal e le famose spade Mughal con il marchio del parasole. E il capitolo 17 con i famosi katar – कटार – daga-pugnale prettamente indiana, libera da ogni influenza straniera, compreso quella musulmana.

L'Appendice 1 é riservata alla traduzione della descrizione particolareggiata delle nozze del Maharaja Takhat Singh di Marwar (1843-73) con la sua ottava Maharani Jadechi Pratap Kanwar di Jamnagar, come da un libro dell'archivio del Forte. Il Maharaja non era presente alle nozze, aveva mandato la sua spada, una khanda, in sua vece. Il documento descrive il viaggio della khanda reale, gli onori che ricevette al suo arrivo, accompagnati da un grande ricevimento e illustra l'importanza data alla spada come personificazione del suo proprietario. Un fatto veramente unico nelle corti Rajput, interessantissimo dal punto di vista dello studio dell' antica influenza indiana in Indonesia dove lo sposo, fino a tempi recenti, poteva mandare il proprio kris a rappresentarlo al matrimonio.

Elgood é davvero insuperabile, usa un sistema unico nella descrizione di tutte le armi di questo libro e cioé : di fianco ad ogni arma si trova la descrizione e l'eventuale traduzione delle scritte che appaiono sulla lama o sull'impugnatura e la sua storia. Sotto, appare il commento personale in cui ci dice della bellezza dell'arma, ma a volte anche dell'incertezza della datazione, i rifacimenti, le parti nuove inserite per abbellimento o aggiunta di pietre preziose, marchi o firme falsi.

Questi due volumi sono un vero piacere per un appassionato di armi bianche asiatiche e una fonte di informazioni senza precedenti per quel che riguarda il mondo dei Rajput e l'India.

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Queste sono le copertine dei due volumi, le trovate su Google digitando il titolo dei due libri. Non so se volete metterne una o due.

Peacock in the Desert - The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India

Karni Jasol; With contributions by Peter Alford Andrews, Robert Elgood, Catherine Glynn, Karni Jasol, Angma D. Jhala, Shailka Mishra, and Giles Tillotson, and edited by Angma D. Jhala

Published in: Quaderni Asiatici (Centro di Cultura Italia-Asia publication)

A beautiful book that presents nearly four centuries of artistic creation from one of the largest former princely states in India, the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur in southwestern Rajasthan.

Peacock in the Desert traces the evolution of royal identity in the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur in southwestern Rajasthan from the 17th century to the establishment of independence after 1947, presenting the area as a microcosm of India's extraordinarily vibrant culture. An international team of contributors has contextualized these regional narratives in relation to external-and even global-forces. The book thus offers a new perspective on the acquisition and commissioning of objects through patronage, diplomacy, matrimonial alliances, trade, and conquest. It sheds fresh light on the influential role of women at the royal courts and examines monarchies as lenses onto cross-cultural relationships, the unrecognized roles of groups marginalized in earlier accounts, cultural heterodoxy, and large-scale multicultural exchange. Exploring these webs of connection, Peacock in the Desert makes a transformative contribution to scholarship. Its multidisciplinary approach to artistic and cultural exchange offers pathbreaking insights, adding crucial chapters to the story of India's royal visual splendor.

Rajput Arms & Armour: the Rathores & Their Armoury at Jodhpur Fort

THE ART NEWSPAPER REVIEW Number 305, October 2018

Review Article by Giles Tillotson - DOWNLOAD PDF

The Maharaja of Jodhpur's Guns

THE WEEK, February 2021

Review Article by Sneha Bhura - DOWNLOAD PDF

The Maharaja of Jodhpur's Guns

Niyogi Books