Somewhat worn but once very high-quality, with great sculptural qualities and remains of silver "true…
Ahead of langets 6 mm
Middle 4.5 mm
Start backedge 3 mm
5 cm from tip 2 mm
Ahead of langets 33 mm
Middle 29 mm
Start backedge 28 mm
5 cm from tip 21.5 mm
21.5 cm from guard
Iron, steel, silver
The Deccan, South India
European antique art market
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Firangi means "foreigner," and this was the name for Indian swords that use foreign blades or copies thereof. In this case the blade is that of a straight riding sword, and is probably of Indian manufacture but mimicking the European form. The long, single-edged, and double-fullered blade has a 27 cm long, sharp backedge. The blade is quite stiff but with a springy temper when bent.
Markings on blade.
It has a Hindu basket hilt with guard and knuckle bow, a dished pommel with a spiked dome inside, and two large langets that hold the blade with three rivets. This riveted construction is typical for South Indian arms.
The hilt is lavishly decorated with floral designs in silver overlay on a blackened background. The langets and some other areas are entirely covered with silver and finely engraved with floral motifs.
In the Furusiyya Art Foundation collection, there is a fine hilt modeled after that of an Arab saïf that carries nearly identical decoration. Its blade is a Persian shamshir with wootz blade. The flowers and floral arrangements are so similar that they are probably from the same production center, workshop, or even hand.1
This piece is dated to the 17th century, and its decor is said to be Ottoman in nature. I personally don't see the Ottoman influence and believe the decor is very much Indian. I would also date them a little later; late 17th to 18th century.
The Arts of the Muslim Knight. Furusiyya Art Foundation. Skira Editore S.p.A. Milano. 2008. Page 96.
The piece comes with a later iron scabbard with wooden core, inspired by British military saber scabbards. It appears to be missing its upper half.
Hilt in very good condition with most of the decoration still remaining. Blade with some patches of stabilized corrosion. Some very tine edge damage. Otherwise in good, healthy shape. Scabbard missing its upper half, its a later addition anyway. See photos to get a good idea of the condition of this piece.
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Description A rather unusual Vi
The only set of its type known to me in both private and museum collections.
With broad silver-clad scabbard, worked entirely in repousse.
With markings attributing it to the Tongzhou incident and a Japanese surrender tag.
Collected by a Russian prince from the hill peoples of central Vietnam in 1892.