I will be writing a series of articles showcasing the more interesting weapons that enter my collection and, for this first instalment, I have something unique and beautiful to share. In fact, it's a little bit mad.
As a sword, it is something of a hybrid: marrying an Eastern wootz steel blade with a Western silver hilt, the reason for which has been lost to time. Was it an adapted battlefield trophy? Perhaps it was a purposefully exotic status symbol? Or maybe it played a part in 18th century diplomacy and was a gift to one of the Indian rulers eager to adopt fashionable European styles. It certainly has enough quality to be something of that ilk. The kilij-style blade has a sophisticated arcing geography to it and is made from desirable high contrast wootz steel, the light and dark currents clearly visible playing along its entire length and only fading out at the reinforced high carbon tip (an extremely rare feature on a sword) that concludes it. The base of the blade has a large ricasso section, inlaid with gold by a master's hand. Atop this is a hilt of a form seen in Europe from around 1750 onwards and this has been expertly crafted by a silversmith, the horn of the handgrip cut to allow silver twist-wire to sit neatly into grooves.
Handling-wise, and perhaps despite its decorative appeal, this sword wants to cut. It moves freely in the hand with the heavy tip being complemented by the light grip - allowing for extreme motion and heavy swings to come from the wrist in a style similar to the 18th century short hangers used by infantry officers before the days of regulation swords.
Overall, this is an exquisite and odd sword and I'm pleased it has found its way into my Anglo-Indian collection.