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Arms and armour

Detail from the blade of a talwar

Detail from the blade of a talwar presented by the Maharajah of Alwar, RCIN 11238 ©

Weapons formed by far the largest group of presents received. On account of the length of the tour and the number of rulers he met, the Prince returned home with an impressive collection representative of the different styles of manufacture across the subcontinent.

The most distinguished feature of Indian arms and armour is the use of watered crucible steel, which creates a rippled water-like patterning, particularly noticeable on the blades of swords and daggers. These weapons are forged from ingots made of iron and vegetable material combined and heated in a crucible (a container that can withstand very high temperatures).

The mixture of iron and carbon creates a natural swirling pattern and the high carbon content strengthens the blade.