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Object Title

Elephant tusk sword

Elephant tusk sword

Date

about 1600

Object Number

XXVIM.40 A

Provenance

Purchased from the Earl of Powis, 20 November 1997. Acquired in India by Lady Clive, wife of Edward, 2nd Lord Clive (Governor of Madras), between 1798 and 1800, and brought back to England in 1801; displayed in the Elephant Room at Powis Castle. Purchased as part of a pair of tusk swords with XXVIM.40 B.

Physical Description

The tusk swords take the form of massive steel sockets with three moulded reinforcing bands and rounded ends, from which great double-edged, double-curved blades with reinforced points extend. The blades have solid, onion-shaped ricassos, and double fullers at either side of a medial ridge. Both were originally fitted with three metal loops on the middle reinforcing band, though one of these is broken and missing on each. The inside of each socket tapers to a flat end, and is intended to fit over the sawn-off tusk.

Featured in

Materials

Dimensions

Tusk sword A bladeLength423 mm
Tusk sword A bladeWidth83 mm
Tusk sword A overallLength657 mm
Tusk sword AWeight4.564 kg
Tusk sword A socketWidth132 mm
Tusk sword A socketiner width98 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

None

Associations

Places India/Asia

Bibliographic References

Thom Richardson, The elephant tusk swords, Royal Armouries Yearbook 4, 1999: 133-134

Thom Richardson, An introduction to Indian arms and armour, Leeds, Royal Armouries, 2007: 40

Indian Arms and Armour

Notes

Surviving tusk swords are extremely rare.

Amongst the other known tusk swords are two pairs from the dispersed Mysore arsenal, which are rather small and decorative compared to those in the Royal Armouries' collection. Both these pairs have very short brass sockets cast with moulded reinforcing bands, and short, straight double-edged blades of diamond section; the blades are riveted to decorative brass extensions of the sockets, which are waisted where they join the sockets; the inherent weakness of this construction illustrates their role as decorative rather than practical objects.

A single example of a tusk sword which is thought to be 15th-17th century in date resides in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, accession number 2015.103.

A pair of 'tusk covers' with blades exist in the collection of the Ganga Golden Junilee Museum in Bikaner, accession number 835 BM, which are catalogued as 18th century. (See 'Museums of Rajasthan ' by Jawahar Kala Kendra, p.81)

There was previously a reasonably substantial (therefore fairly early?) pair which formed part of the Moser-Charlottenfels collection and are displayed in the 1912 Leipzig catalogue.

Thumbnail image of Pair of elephant tusk swords, India, about 1600 XXVIM.40
Thumbnail image of Pair of elephant tusk swords, India, about 1600 XXVIM.40
Thumbnail image of Pair of elephant tusk swords, India, about 1600 XXVIM.40
Thumbnail image of Pair of elephant tusk swords
Thumbnail image of Pair of elephant tusk swords
Thumbnail image of Elephant tusk sword Elephant tusk sword (one of a pair), India, about 1600
Thumbnail image of Elephant tusk sword Elephant tusk sword (one of a pair), India, about 1600
Thumbnail image of Elephant tusk sword Elephant tusk sword (one of a pair), India, about 1600
Thumbnail image of Elephant tusk sword Elephant tusk sword (one of a pair), India, about 1600
Thumbnail image of Elephant tusk sword Elephant tusk sword (one of a pair), India, about 1600
Thumbnail image of Elephant tusk sword Elephant tusk sword (one of a pair), India, about 1600