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Exhibition on “Decorated Arms & Armours” from National Museum reserve collection begins

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An exhibitions titled “Decorated Arms & Armours”, displaying select daggers, swords, armours as well as pistols from National Museum’s reserve collection, began here today.
 
The exhibition, inaugurated by National Museum Director General B R Mani, will continue till November 5.
 
The history of Indian arms and armours begins in pre- and proto-historic times. In the historical context, they are testified by several sculptures, paintings and coins. During the medieval period, there was considerable ingenuity and craftsmanship in manufacturing them.
 
During the Sultanate and the Mughal rule, weapons underwent significant modifications, and weapons with Persian, Arab and Turkish influences became common. Examples are the ‘Shamsheer’ from Persia and the ‘Zulfikar’ from Arabia.
 
A variety of daggers, imported weapons for self-protection and hand-to-hand combat were also in vogue. There were regional variants like the Jamadhar, Jambia and Khanjar of Mughal the Chura of Afghans, the Khapwa of Rajputs, the Qurauli of Sikhs and the Khukri of Nepalis. Many daggers were adorned with ivory, jade, crystal and soapstone and sometimes embellished with calligraphy.
 
From pre-historic period to the later Gupta period, the arms and armour were basically of a functional nature and do not bear much of an aesthetic element. It was from the medieval period that arms and armour began to be profusely ornamented.
 
The ornamentation on weapons began to symbolize an individual's identity, his political power and economic authority. The study of ornamented arms and armour is interesting for the part they played in shaping history. On the technical side, arts were applied in various ways in the ornamentation techniques, the metallurgy and utility of various materials such s gold, silver, copper, brass, jade, crystal, agate, ivory, horn, mother of pearl, tortoiseshell, wood, hide, precious and semi-precious stones, and so on.
 
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The arms and armours of the common man, used on the battlefield or for hunting, were often plain and the decoration kept to a minimum. However, arms and armour of the nobility, military commanders and elite warriors were adorned with precious decoration, especially for ceremonial use.
 
Weapons used by the royal houses of different dynasties were usually embellished with decorative designs bearing testimony to the fact of historical personalities. The edged weapons like swords, daggers, spears, and so on were extensively decorated with hunting scenes; and several other patterns. Many of the arms also bore the name of their owners.
 
Arms, most importantly ornamented daggers, were the most common gifts presented to distinguished individuals in recognition of their services. A custom which was prevalent right from the ancient times is still practised in many parts of India.
 
The arms and armours which made up as gifts were opulently decorated. The decoration constituted things from everyday life and was subjected to a symmetrical arrangement, with pommel itself shaped like the head of a horse, figures of deities and parrot among others.
 
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