Indian Saw Backed Yataghan Style Sword

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This unusual and fearsome Indian sword has a yataghan-style wavy blade with razor sharp saw teeth along the back edge. The sword probably dates from the 19th Century (it was sold at auction as being 18th Century but I think that it is later) and is a great example of the ingenuity of Indian sword makers and of 19th Century psychological warfare. One would certainly think twice about facing off with a warrior wielding this.

The 686mm un-fullered blade has a sharp, yataghan-type cutting edge. The blade is 33mm wide and terminates in a clip point. The back edge has 82 razor sharp, rear facing teeth. The significance of this is that the teeth would cut on entering a victim, but rip on withdrawal, causing a horrific would.

Interestingly, this is the exact opposite of European saw toothed blades. Despite the negative propaganda and inaccurate rumours spread about 19th and early 20th Century saw-backed European bayonets and swords (particularly the German S98/05), these bayonets were designed so as not to inflict a greater wound on withdrawal. The teeth of these weapons point forwards. Pioneers and gun crews were issued them, primarily for clearing brush.

The blade of this sword is ideally suited to both slashing and thrusting. The European Pioneer and Artillery saw-back bayonets of the 19th Century may have inspired the design of this Indian sword. It is possible that this was the weapon of an Indian Pioneer or Artilleryman. It would certainly perform well when used as a either a saw or a sword.

The blade is in fair condition. The edges are sharp and the blade has a speckled age patina with pitting (more on one side that the other), particularly towards the hilt.

The cast brass hilt is of typical form with a lion’s head pommel. The blade is held firmly within the hilt in the traditional manner, using a strong, cement-like resin.

This rare and interesting Indian sword would be a great addition to any Indo-Persian collection.