Firangi (sword)

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Firangi
Peshwa Baji Rao I riding horse.jpg
Maratha Peshwa Bajirao, wielding a firangi sword.
Type Sword
Place of originIndia
Service history
Used byThe Mughals, Rajputs, Marathas, Sikhs and others
Production history
Producedc. 1500 to present
Specifications
Blade length89 to 96 cm (35 to 38 in)

Blade  typeDouble-edged or single-edged, straight bladed, pointed tip.

The firangi ( /fəˈrɪŋɡ/ ; derived from the Arabic term (al- faranji) for a Western European [a "Frank"]) [1] (Marathi:फिरंगाना) was an Indian sword type which used blades manufactured in Western Europe, particularly Solingen, and imported by the Portuguese, or made locally in imitation of European blades. [2]

Contents

Physical characteristics

Typical firangi sword Mumtaz Mahal Museum, Red Fort - Firangi.jpg
Typical firangi sword

The firangi sword characteristically had a long, 89 to 96 centimetres (35 to 38 in), straight blade of either broadsword (two edged) or, more commonly, backsword (single edged) form. The blade often incorporated one, two, or three fullers (grooves) and had a spear-tip shaped point. The sword could be used to both cut and thrust. Examples with narrow rapier blades have survived, though in small numbers. The hilt was of the type sometimes called the "Indian basket-hilt" and was identical to that of another Indian straight-bladed sword the khanda. The hilt afforded a substantial amount of protection for the hand and had a prominent spike projecting from the pommel which could be grasped, resulting in a two-handed capability for the sword. [2] Like other contemporary Indian swords the hilt of the firangi was usually of iron and the tang of the blade was attached to the hilt using a very strong resin, additionally, the hilt to blade connection was reinforced by projections from the hilt onto either face of the forte of the blade which were riveted together through a hole passing through the blade. The finest examples of this type of sword can have extensive gold "koftigari" decoration to both hilt and blade.

Use

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan standing, carrying a lily and a firangi sword as a symbol of martial power. Shahjahan on globe, mid 17th century.jpg
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan standing, carrying a lily and a firangi sword as a symbol of martial power.

Because of its length the firangi is usually regarded as primarily a cavalry weapon. Illustrations suggest a 16th-century date for the development of the sword, though early examples appear to have had simpler cross-guard hilts, similar to those of the talwar. The sword has been especially associated with the Marathas, who were famed for their cavalry. However, the firangi was widely used by the Mughals and those peoples who came under their rule, including Sikhs and Rajputs. Images of Mughal potentates holding firangis, or accompanied by retainers carrying their masters' firangis, suggest that the sword became a symbol of martial virtue and power. [3] Photographs of Indian officers of Hodson's Horse (an irregular cavalry unit raised by the British) show that the firangi was still in active use at the time of the Indian Mutiny in 1857-58. [4]

See also

Notes

  1. Because the Frankish kingdom (Francia, the name origin of "France") dominated Western Europe for centuries, terms derived from "Frank" were used by many in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and beyond as a synonym for Roman Christians (e.g., al-Faranj in Arabic, farangi in Persian and Urdu, Frenk in Turkish, Feringhi in Hindi, and Frangos in Greek). See also Thai ฝรั่ง Farang .ฝรั่ง fa rang, thai-language.com, 2008
  2. 1 2 Stone and LaRocca, p. 229
  3. Evangelista and Gaugler, p. 247
  4. David, ill. 29, showing British and Indian Officers of Hodson's Horse March 1858. One Indian officer is armed with a firangi.

Related Research Articles

A sword is a bladed melee weapon intended for cutting or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

Sabre Type of sword

A sabre, is a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the early modern and Napoleonic periods. Originally associated with Central European cavalry such as the hussars, the sabre became widespread in Western Europe in the Thirty Years' War. Lighter sabres also became popular with infantry of the late 17th century.

A backsword is a type of sword characterised by having a single-edged blade and a hilt with a single-handed grip. It is so called because the triangular cross section gives a flat back edge opposite the cutting edge. Later examples often have a "false edge" on the back near the tip, which was in many cases sharpened to make an actual edge and facilitate thrusting attacks. From around the early 14th century the backsword became the first type of European sword to be fitted with a knuckle guard.

This is a list of types of swords.

Shamshir Type of Persian/Iranian curved sword

A shamshir is a type of Persian/Iranian sword with a radical curve. The name is derived from the shamshīr, which means "lion's fang" in the Persian language. The curved "scimitar" sword family includes the shamshir, kilij, talwar, pulwar and nimcha.

Swordsmanship or sword fighting refers to the skills of a swordsman, a person versed in the art of the sword. The term is modern, and as such was mainly used to refer to smallsword fencing, but by extension it can also be applied to any martial art involving the use of a sword. The formation of the English word "swordsman" is parallel to the Latin word gladiator, a term for the professional fighters who fought against each other and a variety of other foes for the entertainment of spectators in the Roman Empire. The word gladiator itself comes from the Latin word gladius, which is a type of sword.

Kilij

A kilij is a type of one-handed, single-edged and moderately curved scimitar used by the Timurid Empire, Mamluk Empire, Ottoman Empire, and the later Turkic Khanates of Central Asia and Eurasian steppes. These blades developed from earlier Turko-Mongol sabers that were in use in lands invaded or influenced by the Turkic peoples.

The talwar, also spelled talwaar and tulwar, is a type of curved sword or sabre from the Indian subcontinent.

Pulwar

The pulwar or pulouar is a single-handed curved sword originating in Afghanistan.

Shashka

The shashka or shasqua, is a kind of sabre; single-edged, single-handed, and guardless backsword. In appearance, the shashka is midway between a typically curved sabre and a straight sword. It has a slightly curved blade, and can be effective for both cutting and thrusting.

Gothic hilted British infantry swords (1822, 1827, 1845, 1854 and 1892 patterns)

The gothic hilted swords were a family of swords carried by officers and some NCOs of the British Army between 1822 and the present day. They were primarily infantry swords, although they were also regulation pattern for some other officers such as surgeons and staff officers. The term “Gothic hilt” is derived from a perceived similarity between the curved bars of the guard and the arches found in Gothic architecture. They were elegant aesthetically pleasing weapons, although they were considered by some to be mediocre fighting swords. The weapon and its variants had a very long service life.

Khanda (sword) Type of sword common in Indian martial arts

The khanda is a double-edge straight sword originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is often featured in religious iconography, theatre and art depicting the ancient history of India. It is a common weapon in Indian martial arts. Khanda often appears in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh scriptures and art.

1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword Type of

The pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword was the sword used by the British heavy cavalry, and King's German Legion Dragoons, through most of the period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It played an especially notable role, in the hands of British cavalrymen, at the battles of Salamanca and Waterloo. The pattern was adopted by Sweden and was used by some Portuguese cavalry.

Scimitar Type of Sword

In English the word scimitar refers to a backsword or sabre with a curved blade. Adapted from the Italian word scimitarra in the mid 16th century from an unknown source, the word became used for all 'Oriental' blades which were curved, compared to the more commonly straight and double edged European swords of the time. This is apparent in Thomas Page's The Use of the Broad Sword. Published: 1746:

"The Sword was of enormous length and breadth, heavy and unweildy, design'd only for right down chopping by the Force of a strong Arm; till Time and Experience discovering the Disadvantages, by Degrees contracted its Length and lighten'd its Weight in to the more handy Form of the Scymitar; which was first invented by the Eastern Nations, and has continued to be their principal Weapon to this Day:....""The Saracens, Turks and Persians, made use of but three different Throws with the Scymitar, and one of those, only on Horseback; the other two on Foot."

Basket-hilted sword Sword with basket-like hand protection

The basket-hilted sword is a sword type of the early modern era characterised by a basket-shaped guard that protects the hand. The basket hilt is a development of the quillons added to swords' crossguards since the Late Middle Ages. In modern times, this variety of sword is also sometimes referred to as the broadsword.

Mughal weapons

Mughal weapons significantly evolved during the ruling periods of Babur, Akbar, Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan. During its conquests throughout the centuries, the military of the Mughal Empire used a variety of weapons including swords, bows and arrows, horses, camels, elephants, some of the world's largest cannons, muskets and flintlock blunderbusses.

Niabor Type of Sword, Cutlass

Niabor is a curved sword from Borneo, a characteristic weapon of the Sea-Dayaks.

Pandat Type of Chopper, War Sword

Pandat is the war sword of the Dayak people of northwest Borneo and is never used as a tool. This weapon was featured in the American bladesmthing competition, Forged in Fire 's season 3 episode 9.

Piso Halasan Type of Sword

A Piso Halasan is a traditional sword of the Batak people from North Tapanuli Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Turko-Mongol sabers Type of Cavalry Sabre

These swords were used by the Turkic nomads of the Eurasian steppes primarily between the 9th and 14th centuries. One of the earliest recorded sabres of this type was recovered from an Avar grave in Romania dating to the mid 7th century. Although minor variations occur in size and hilt, they are common enough in design across 5 centuries that individual blades are difficult to date when discovered without other context.

References