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Sword: O.12-1879

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Maker: Unknown




The steel blade is straight and double edged, flaring towards the point. A medial ridge runs the full length of the blade, with a hollow ground at either side. The hilt comprises a figure-8 guard, angled across the centre, with cusped wings chiselled in the form of seated lions, and long, heavy blade-shaped reinforces extending well down the blade, decorated overall with fine incised bands of scrolling foliage and secured by three rivets with copper alloy petalled washers. The thin grip swells to a moulding at the centre, and there is a small, deep, dish pommel inside which is a dome and multi-layered lotus bud finial. The guard is pierced with a pair of holes at either side of the missing lining, and is decorated on the outside with a band of engraved flowers. The side of the pommel dish are engraved with fine lotus flower petals. The ground of all the engraved decoration retains its original vermillion paint, rubbed away in places. The hilt is otherwise in its original black finish, the blade polished bright and covered with grease


History note: From Ganjam. Probably from the Tanjore armoury, broken up in 1860 (see documentation Elgood 2004)

Legal notes

Given by Robert Taylor, MA

Measurements and weight

Blade Length: 92.2 cm
Overall Length: 105 cm
Weight: 1150 g

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1879) by Taylor, Robert, MA


16th Century
Circa 1500 CE - 1600 CE


This superb sword is probably the finest sword to survive from medieval south India. It still retains its original chiselled and coloured decoration and is of the highest quality, made for a noble or royal owner. There are only two of this quality in the world. The guard has finely wrought and chiselled seated lions and it has a long, heavy, reinforces which extend well down the blade. The decoration is fine incised bands of scrolling foliage. The lions, and tigers, were usually associated with royal ownership.

Components of the work

Blade composed of steel

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: 12
  • Method of creation: Inscribed
  • Type: Tag

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: O.12-1879
Primary reference Number: 158316
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

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Sword" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-18 19:43:16

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{{cite web|url= |title=Sword |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-18 19:43:16|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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