An article in the Times of India from a few years ago, talks of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s Bhawani Sword having originated in Toledo, Spain. This claim was supported (as a possibility) by none other than Babasaheb Purandare.
“Yes, it can be true because there has been documentary evidence to show that swords had been imported from Spain because of the quality of steel and the mastery of its workers in designing swords and knives,” confirms historian Babasaheb Purandare. According to Purandare, Shivaji possessed three swords which were named Bhawani, Jagdamba and Tulja. Via Desperately Seeking Shivaji’s Sword
Ninad Bedekar, however, casts doubts due the inscriptions on the sword.
What is the class (type) of the Bhawani sword?
According to S. N. Sen, the Bhawani sword is a Genoese blade and the firangi, a Toledo Blade. There is more information about the Bhawani sword being a Genoa blade.
If you look at some of the old paintings of Shivaji, it seems that the sword on his right arm was a Patta or a Dandpatta, which has an integrated gauntlet. However, if we go by the description of the Bhawani in the text above, by Nick Evangelista, it could not have been a Patta. The existence of a spike, means that there could not have been a gauntlet.
There are many such images of Shivaji, that often depict a Dandpatta in the right hand and another sword in the left; which looks more like the firangi (which a straight blade).
There seem to be no specific references to a Toledo Sword or a Genoa sword — they always refer to them a the Toledo Blade or the Genoese Blade. Which makes sense because, according to this page in the Higgins Collection:
As European traders came to India in the 1500s and 1600s, they brought swords from the blademaking centers in Spain, Italy, and Germany. The blades of these swords were much admired in India, and some were fitted into Indian-made hilts. English swords were less respected: one Indian admiral of the 1600s remarked that English blades were “only fit to cut butter.”
So, while the blade itself was imported from either Spain or Italy, the class of the sword is an entirely different matter, because the sword was crafted locally. A distinction needs to be made between the blade and the sword, I suppose.
As regards the Jagdamba sword, it is commonly assumed (and accepted, I guess) that the Jagdamba was gifted to Edward VII, the Prince of Wales, during his visit to India. It’s a badly cropped image, so there is no way to clearly state that this is a straight blade or a curved one. The Trust makes no mention of the name of the sword. Also, on the page, there are images of two swords.
A look across various old illustrations of Shivaji, indicate the possibility of the Bhawani sword being a straight blade, and not a scimitar. Also, because I believe it is a gauntlet sword, there’s a good chance that it was a broadsword (double-edged).
Yet, in contemporary illustrations, it is shown as a talwar or a scimitar (curved blade). Are these representations of the Bhawani sword or the Jagdamba sword?
I’ll keep updating this page as I find new information. If you have anything to contribute, please suggest, using comments below.
- TNN. (2002, July 2). Desperately Seeking Shivaji’s Sword – The Times of India. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/pune-times/Desperately-Seeking-Shivajis-Sword/articleshow/14790290.cms
- Sen, S. (1920). Siva Chhatrapati being a translation of Sabhasad Bakhar with extracts from Chitnis and Sivadigvijaya, with notes. (Vol. 1, p. 19). Calcutta: Univ. of Calcutta.
- Evangelista, N. (1995). The Encyclopedia of the Sword (p. 55). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
- Pata (sword). (2014, November 29). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pata_(sword)
- British Museum – Portraits of Indian Princes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?assetId=135116&objectId=265601&partId=1
- Firangi (sword). (2014, November 27). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firangi_(sword)
- Pata (gauntlet sword). (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://www.higgins-collection.org/artifacts/1550
- Sabre. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/38023/sabre