The swords were a weapon of choice in Asian countries much before they became popular in other cultures. The swords vary in designs, shape, purpose, and styles and 19th century was the glorious era of swords in the world. Many variations came about to suit various fighting styles. Each royal family had their own special style communicated in the swords and the insignia became the symbol of valour and sacrifice by the families.
Swords evolved from daggers and the existence of the swords can be traced back to the Bronze Age in 3300BC. Starting from Egyptian dynasties to the vast Asian Empires, the types of swords and styles manufactured over the years has seen numerous changes and design modifications to improve their effectiveness. Many a folklores are woven around the beauty of ancient royal swords and royal daggers that brave warriors took with them in the battle to win the wars. In every royal household, the crested royal sword holds a special place of pride and is displayed with great reverence.
Proudly called as Talwar in Hindi, the sword is referred to as zwaard in Dutch, Spada in Italian, Espada in Spainsh and Schwert in German. Another important role of swords and daggers has been the grandeur it reflects when on display. The decoration, design and exquisite jewels at the hilt of royal swords made of materials such as jade, gem set gold, enamelled precious metals helped enhance the effectiveness and presence of the swords. The selection of swords and daggers of the high quality courtly weapons have been gifted and exchanged by royal families for generations as a mark of respect and friendship and recognition of the power among each other. The most common types of swords are
· The two-edged straight sword
· The one-edged sword straight or curved
· The one-edged spud ended sword
· The curved sword with expanding blade (scimitar)
· The curved pointed sword edged on the inner (concave) edge
· The Egyptian falchion
· Miscellaneous types, for example the flamberge or the executioner’s sword and royal swords made for gifting purposes
There are two main parts of the sword: Blade and the Hilt
The size, cut, edges, design, length of the blade is based on the use of the sword: to cut and thrust and strike or to cut or thrust or strike. The blade can be double edged or single edged. The ‘forte’ is the strong part of the blade between the hilt and the centre of balance. The forte gives the sword the ability to cut or strike. The ‘foible is the week part of the blade between the centre of percussion to the tip of the blade. The design of the foible is such that when attacking the force does not produce a sting in the holders hand and gives maximum impact. The part between the COP and centre of balance is called the middle. The groves along the blade are known as blood grooves or fullers. The objective of fullers is to make the blade lighter and rigid and thus making it easier for the warrior to pull it out after stabbing. The ricasso is the small section of method between the sharpened portion and the hilt. The ricasso provides additional force for the cut and gives better grip and precision.
The hilt is the source of balance and impressiveness of a royal sword or dagger. The form and decoration on the hilt is used to identify the era, richness and power of an empire in the ancient times. Light weight Jade hits help in making the weapon more agile and were often used in the Egyptian times. The hilt has three main components. The first one is guard. The function of a guard is to protect the owner’s hands. Guards are usually made of soft materials (decorative and plain) and are placed on the joint between blade and grip. The grip, as the name suggests is designed to create a solid hold around the sword. The third one is the pommel. It prevents the sword from slipping from the hands. Pommels came into existence in the 11th century and soon became a popular tool in adding counterbalance to sword.
Different eras use various designs on the pommel such as crescents, rings, animal heads etc.
Over the times, sword knots or tassels were added to make the hilt more effective as a weapon of close range. Duelling swords have elaborate basket hilts to protect the palm of the wielder. The designs of the blades and hilts of the royal swords range from delicately traced foliage, grotesques, chimeric figures, precious jewels. In the modern times, the royal sword and the sword sheath are embossed with gem sets with gold and silver and the richness of the material such as hilt made of single ruby, or carved lion head of the majestic lion or the Mughal era flower designs. Although a weapon of warfare the jewel encrusted royal or shai swords remains the most preferred choice of gift acknowledging the counterparts bravery and valour.