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Spearhead: O.165-1879

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Maker: Unknown




Of steel, and of massive proportion, the blade is curved and double edged, with two deep and two shallow fullers at the centre, and a heavy reinforced point. It is joined to the socket by a massive langet, chiselled with dragons’ heads at either side of a lotus bud. The socket itself is faceted, with bands of chiselled foliage, and three mouldings, at the blade of roped, hatched and beaded ornament, in the centre of beaded ornament between ribs of roping, and at the end a seven-stage stepped ornamental band of beading, roping and bands of foliage. The whole is bright with little pitting.


History note: From Madura

Legal notes

Given by Robert Taylor, MA

Measurements and weight

Length: 49 cm
Weight: 1575 g

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given by Taylor, Robert, MA


16th Century, Late
Circa 1580 CE - 1600 CE


Compare Government Museum Chennai no. 2236, which has a band of Telugu round the socket and is of exactly the same form, as is O.166.1879 (Documentation, Elgood 2004). Taylor notes (see Documentation, Cambridge 1879) these ‘should be fixed on stout bamboos, 6 to 8 feet long. These weapons are the famous ‘Polygar spears’, used with such terrible effect by the retainers of the Polygars (‘barons’ of Southern India) in the wars of the beginning of the century.’

This fine and very effective example is from Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Robert Taylor, who collected it in India and gave it the museum, said that it would have been ‘fixed on stout bamboos, 6 to 8 feet long’ (1.8–2.4 metres). He also says that were the famous ‘polygar spears used with such effect by the retainers of the polygars (barons) of southern India in the wars at the beginning of the century’.’

Components of the work

Blade Length 29 cm

Materials used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: adhesive paper label

  • Text: 165
  • Method of creation: Printed
  • Type: Label
  • Text: 165
  • Method of creation: Inscribed
  • Type: Tag

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: O.165-1879
Primary reference Number: 158305
Old object number: 165
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 12 May 2021 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Spearhead" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-20 13:18:50

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{{cite web|url= |title=Spearhead |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-20 13:18:50|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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