Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Overall length

90.5 cm

Blade length

78 cm

Blade thickness

Base 6 mm

Middle 5 mm

5 cm from tip 3.5 mm

Blade width

Base 35 mm

Middle 29 mm

5 cm from tip 19 mm

Weight without scabbard

844 grams

Point of balance

20.5 cm from crossguard

Materials

Steel, copper, wood, silk velvet, gold, silver, resin

Origin

Kutch, Gujarat, North India

Dating

19th century

Provenance

From a British private collector

Price €5200, -

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Description

The blade is of Persian shamshīr style, with a narrow deeply curved blade. The ricasso at the base of the blade betrays it was not a Persian, but an Indian maker who forged it. It is made of fine pattern-welded steel, showing an effect that was achieved by forge folding the blade with layers of steel with different compositions, making indentations into its surface, and then polishing it smooth so we see the underlying layers. After an etch, the different layers come out in different shades and some are eaten away to form a bit of a topography. The process is very labor-intensive and is a great showcase for the skill of the smith.

 

Mountings

Blade and scabard are mounted in a complete set of gilt copper mounts, worked in repousse and finished with fine chiseling. The style of the work with stylized flowers is typical for work done in Kutch. See also a nice jambiya style dagger in the same style elsewhere on this site.

 

 

 

Kutch shamshir blade

 

The blade has a partial stamp at the base of the blade, commonly seen on blades from North India and possibly maker's marks. Further up the blade are two cartouches with texts:

ﻭﻻﻳﺖﻋﻠﻰ
Velāyat-e Ali

Trusteeship Ali

&

ﺟﻰﺻﺎﺣﺐﺑﻦﺳﻦ
Ji Sāheb Ben Sen

Becomes the Owner Benson

 

The invocation to Ali of course refers to the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, of which was said: 

"No warrior but Ali, no sword but Zulfiqar"

 

Benson

Benson is an English name, indicating it was probably made for a British person stationed there at the time. Tracing down which Benson is hard, as it was a fairly common name and no initials are given. The hilt, in Mamluk style, was very popular among British officers. A trend that started around 1800 and would last throughout the 19th century.

 

Comparable examples

A number of similar shamshīr apparently with Kutch style mounts and the similar, unusual layout and shape of the scabbard mounts, were shown in the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in South Kensington, London, 1886.

Arms and throphies

Published in Badel Powell; Indian arms and armour
Journal of Indian Art, Vol. VI. 1896.

 

Restoration

One of the gilt copper strips on the scabbard was missing. It was recreated by Karel Schermerhorn of Haarlemse Zilversmederij K.H. Schermerhorn.

Restoration on scabbard

Restored scabbard strip. Left, the new piece. Right, an original.

 

Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson
Kutch pattern welded Shamshir made for Benson

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