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What the well-equipped warrior of India wears

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Rhino's Armour, Tiger's Claws

What the well-equipped warrior of India wears

By Michael J. Varhola

Artwork by Michael Scott and David O. Miller

A great variety of defensive arms were used throughout the hundreds of tiny states that once made up the sprawling Indian subcontinent. The use of armour and shields in India dates from at least the second millennium BC and continued almost into the beginning of our own century. Indeed, in the Indian wars of rebellion against British domination in the 19th century, armour and shields, little different than those used in the Middle Ages, were used by Indian warriors.

Historical records are often vague or conflicting with regard to the defensive arms of the Indian subcontinent. However, when studied as a whole, a comprehensible picture of the subject begins to take shape. The earliest accounts telling of the armour used by Indians comes from the 4th century BC, when the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great subdued portions of the subcontinent. Indian mythological epics also say much about arms and armour, but as with any such material, they must be regarded cautiously.

One benefit to the student of martial equipment in India is that it changed little from century to century, with little to distinguish the arms of ancient India from those of its medieval period. However, foreign invasions left their influences. What is most important to consider when equipping monsters of an Indian mileiu is that there should be a great variety of such equipment, and that innumerable tiny kingdoms and enclaves will have their own varieties and styles of armour.

Historically, common soldiers did not have access to the best armour. Most had quilted linen armour and shields, and the most impoverished might not even have that much. However, armour appears in typical AD&D scenarios far beyond what was really available in Dark Ages Europe and DMs may do the same in an Indian milieu, if they wish.

The finest Indian arms and armour were richly embellished, often with koftgari work, an inlay of metal gold and other precious metal applied to the surface of the item in thin layers. Those who could afford expensive arms often had them crafted so as to be works of art unto themselves. Much of the appeal of an Indian-style adventure rests on the assumption that the diverse states of India are not about to come under the yoke of a unified, technologically superior empire. To most players and DMs, that is probably a dreary option and would certainly ruin the colour of such a milieu in the game, much as it did in reality.

Nonetheless, there were many invasions of India, in whole or in part, and many less-violent incursions by outsiders. These have all been influences on the diverse varieties of armour and shields found throughout India.

Quick Index: For ease of use.

Indian body armour


Other armour and Equipment

Indian shields

Weapon vs. armour modifiers

Indian weapons


Indian body armour

Varman is the Sanskrit word most often used in historical and epic writings to refer to the various sorts of body armour, as opposed to shields. Some of this armour gives a base armour class in the AD&D game, such as chain mail (AC 5). Other pieces can be worn individually, either by themselves or to augment other armour. These benefit the wearer's armour class, like a shield does. Unlike a shield, such piece armour need not be actively used but only worn.

Chahar-aina: Also called "four mirror" body armour, this armour consisted of four metal plates strapped around the wearer's body: one on the back, one on the chest, and one on each side under the arms. Chahar-aina was usually worn to augment another suit of armour, often in conjunction with the khulah-kud (helmet), dastana (bracers), and shield. Chahar-aina was often worn over a quilted coat for base AC 7 (AC 8 for quilted cotton, +1 for Chahar-aina). It was usually of high quality and often embellished and highly polished. In AD&D games, it is the most likely to be enchanted of any of the Indian armours.

Chain mail: This was so commonly encountered in India, that several weapons evolved with the express purpose of piercing it. A suit of chain mail often included both a full-length tunic and mail trousers. Chain mail is a bit more expensive in Indian adventures than in typical AD&D worlds, so fewer low-level warriors will possess it. Inferior sets of mail, costing 70 GP, weigh the same as good chain mail but give only a base AC 6. Ghughuwa was chain mail that combined torso armour and a mail coif in a single piece, often padded with velvet; it costs 110 GP.

Dastana: These were forearm guards, also called bazubands, typically a pair of hinged plates that fully encircled the arm with mittens of cloth or mail to protect the hands. Dastana were often worn with Chahar-aina; a pair of them improves a wearer's armour class by one place.

Dhenuka: This was a full set of armour made from the hide, hooves, and horn of an Indian rhinoceros. Such armour was of somewhat higher quality than regular hide armour. Dhenuka could also be made from the components of other beasts with thick natural protection, such as elephants, water buffaloes, or even crocodiles. Dhenuka would definitely be popular in regions where other armour components are scarce, but where the creatures it is made from are common. It might also be used by characters who are prohibited from wearing cowhide or metal, or by those who are required to wear the skin of the beast in question.

Magical varieties of this armour might bestow powers on their wearers sympathetic with the abilities of the creatures they are constructed from. For example, a character wearing magical rhinoceros Dhenuka might have the ability to smash into opponents with greater force than normal, as a charging rhinoceros would.

Helmets: A great variety of helmets can be found in an Indian milieu. Specific benefits of the various helmet types can be found in The Complete Fighter's Handbook. All of the helmet types listed in that book will be available, except for the great helm, which is bigger and heavier than those found in India. Two unique forms of head protection are described here.

Khulah-kud: The Persian influence on Indian armour is most apparent in this helmet. The khulah-kud is a round; domed helmet with a spike on top, a nose guard, and a pair of tubular supports for plumes a few inches to either side of the centre front of the helmet. A chain-mail neck guard sometimes hung from the back of the khulah-kud, and a turban was often wrapped around it. It conforms to the characteristics of the open-faced helm described in The Complete Fighter's Handbook page 108.

Turban: Various sorts of turbans were worn throughout India, many for religious reasons. The thick padding of a turban provides some protection to the wearer's head, functioning like the cap variety of helmet described in The Complete Fighter's Handbook, page 108.

Hide: Hide armours would be common in areas of Indian adventures where metal is uncommon, the people are poor, or religion dictates that hide must be used. Typically, such armour will be of elephant or rhinoceros hide. Nonetheless, it can be quite handsome and functional, and has the same chances of being magical as any other armour in areas where it predominates.

Heavy hide armour includes full skirts, and arm and leg guards. Lighter hide armour conforms to the characteristics of sadiqi armour (described later).

Kantha-trana: This broadly refers to a piece of armour that protects the neck and is worn independently of a basic suit of armour or a helmet. It does not improve armour class as such, but it bestows certain conditional benefits. Against attacks meant to strangle or decapitate, the wearer of a kantha-trana has an armour class for his neck either equal to that of the rest of his body or to base AC 8, whichever is better. Whenever a character wearing such an item must make a saving throw against attacks against the neck, such as decapitation or strangulation, he has a bonus of + 2 on his saving throw.

Magical versions of kantha-trana clearly suggest themselves. Note that a normal garrotte is ineffective against someone wearing a kantha-trana; a magical version or one wielded with superhuman strength is required.

Lamellar: This sort of armour was similar to scale mail but was of higher quality. Thus, lamellar provides the same protection as scale mail, but it weighs less and is more expensive than the scale mail available in an Indian milieu.

Leather: Because the cow is a sacred animal in Hindu India, leather armour will not be used in many Indian campaign areas, and certain characters might be prohibited from its use. However, it may be used in non-Hindu states or by barbarians or other non-Hindus who dwell on the fringes of the world of Indian adventures.

Nagodarika: This was a shooting glove worn by archers. Most were leather or hide finger guards sewn onto straps that were wrapped around the user's hand to keep the devices in place.

Poshteen: The Poshteen was not actually armour as such, but rather a heavy sheepskin coat with the fur on the inside to protect against cold. Such garments were worn by dwellers of the craggy hills and mountains, historically by Afghans. Because of its thickness, the Poshteen gives +1 to the armour class of the person wearing it. However, if the Poshteen is worn over armour heavier than leather, the Dexterity of the user is reduced by 1.

Furthermore, spell-casters prohibited from wearing armour have a 5% chance of spell failure if wearing a Poshteen alone. Because of its thickness and construction, however, this coat gives a +1 on saving throws vs. cold attacks.

Quilted linen: Many Indian armours, particularly those of northern India, used quilted linen instead of leather, producing an armour similar to padded (base AC 8). Lighter-than-normal coats of this armour would cost and weigh one-half normal and give a base AC 9. Such armour increases the chance of success of some rogue abilities, giving +5% to move silently and climb walls. The least expensive of these armours contained only linen, but some were improved with studding with small gilt nails, or the addition of scale, mail, or metal plates. Improved versions of this armour could provide a base AC 7 or 6, at cost and weight of 50 GP and 20 lbs. for AC 7, and 90 GP and 30 lbs. for AC 6. Such armour could be further augmented with Chahar-aina, dastana, and shield.

Reinforced mail: The best Indian armours were of quilted linen reinforced with chain mail and metal plates. The chain mail and plates were fastened within the armour with metal studs and nails, and could not be worn separately or easily removed. A complete set of this armour included protective trousers, boots, dastana (q.v.), and a helmet, typically a khulah-kud (q.v.). It was not especially bulky or heavy for the protection it gave, but was still too bulky for Chahar-aina to be worn over it. This is the best sort of armour available in an Indian adventure, giving a base AC 3, and only the most affluent characters will own it. Most of it was very ornate and attractive, and the components of many suits, including a shield, were often crafted as matching pieces.

Sadiqi: This is the name for any suit of armour, such as chain mail or leather armour, that protects only the torso and does not cover the arms. The protection such armour provides is one place less than normal, and the cost and weight are two-thirds normal. Thus, sadiqi chain mail would have base AC 6, cost 50 GP, and weigh about 26 lbs.

Rogues wearing sadiqi leather armour add + 5 % to their move silently and climb walls abilities, and the penalties for wearing sadiqi studded or padded armours are 5% less than for full suits of such armours (see the Player's Handbook, page 39, Table 29).

Scale mail: Coats of scale mail were found in many Indian regions, and they revealed again the martial influence of Persia. Such armour was more common in India than in a typical AD&D milieu and is correspondingly less expensive as a result.

Studded leather: Because of the unlikelihood of leather being used for armour, studded leather has the same chances of being present in an Indian campaign as does leather armour.

Talatra: Known by several other names, this device was an arm guard or bracer worn by an archer to protect his inner arm from the slap of a released bowstring, Traditionally, the Talatra was made of iguana skin

Indian shields

In the historical and mythic texts that describe the arms of India, avarna is the Sanskrit word most often used to refer to shields, as opposed to body armour. Shields were of three basic types throughout India: parrying shields, round shields, and curved oblong shields. However, in such a vast, diverse area, exceptions to this exist.

Body: Indian infantry often used body shields that had bamboo frames covered with hide. These were the kind of shields used by the warriors who battled Alexander the Great. Because of their size, body shields reduce armour class against missile weapons by two places, rather than one.

Buckler: These small shields were favoured by some in India, and many of them were augmented with blades or spikes, allowing them to be used for both attacking and defending. Such spiked bucklers are discussed in "Indian weapons."

Dahl: The small or medium-sized round shield, called the dahl, was the most common Indian shield, particularly during the age of encounters with European powers. The dahl was circular, commonly of embossed leather or steel, and was used throughout India and the regions to its Northwest. Its form changed little over the centuries.

The dahl typically had four or five metal bosses on its face and two handles on the inside: one to slide the shield arm through, and the other for the shield hand to grasp. Some, often referred to as "Persian" in style, have six bosses and three handles, two of which the arm passes through. Some dahls were made of up to 50 layers of silk and used by Brahmins or others who eschewed the use of leather. Other dahls were constructed of equally rare materials, even tortoise shells.

Maratha shield: Such shields were typically medium in size and highly convex, almost coming to a point. They were lacquered and light, and highly effective against missile weapons. They give a + 1 bonus to their user's armour class against melee weapons, but are +3 against missile weapons. Thus, a warrior wearing chain mail and armed with a Maratha shield would have a base AC 4 in melee but a base AC 2 against missiles (this missile bonus applies only to frontal, unsurpassed attacks to which the character can react).

Medium: It is likely that some combatants will carry medium-sized shields that do not conform to the appearance of any of the specialised shields of India. Such shields could be of any construction or appearance.

Parrying shields: Many parrying implements were used in India, devices intended both for attacking and defending. Parrying devices may not look like shields at all, but like pairs of metal bars or horns held by a grip between them. One example of such an item is the madu, discussed in "Indian weapons." Generally, parrying "shields" can be used by non-proficient characters to either attack or defend; those proficient with these devices can use them for both attack and defence in a single round. Most improve the user's armour class by one place against up to two frontal attacks.

Small: Various kinds of small shields that do not conform to the characteristics of more common shields might be encountered in an Indian scenario. The fari, a small shield made of bamboo or cane, is an example of this. Other small shields might be made of hide and used by hill people, of woven palm fronds and used by jungle-dwellers, etc.

Weapon vs. armour modifiers

Certain weapons are more or less useful against various kinds of armour, as explained on page 90 of the Player's Handbook.

Indian weapons

The Indian subcontinent produced a wide variety of exotic, lethal, but often beautiful weapons. Naturally, many of the weapons used throughout India had equivalents in the West. However, many of them were unique, having neither Western nor Oriental counterparts.

Historically, there was an early Persian influence on Indian arms, from around 1500 BC, and a resultant overlap in the weapons of these two regions. Much later, many sorts of weapons and equipment were introduced by Arab invaders and settlers, for about 900 years, beginning in the 7th century AD The weapons listed herein are primarily those that were indigenous to the Indian subcontinent itself, but naturally include those that bear the influence of outside cultures. Certain Indian weapons were developed and used predominantly in specific areas; others had widespread usage. Notes regarding this are made where applicable to assist DMs in campaign planning.

Indian steel was quite good, and some weapons were constructed entirely of it, including the hafts. Nonetheless, much steel was imported from Persia or Damascus, despite a reputation of superiority that was spurious at best. Indeed, Indian weapons were among the highest quality in the world.

Ornate decorations and embellishments were often characteristic of Indian arms and armour. Many were chased with brass, silver, or gold, or fitted with ivory or jade hilts. The prices given for weapons in Indian campaigns represent only the base values of the weapons, and any sort of decorative work can easily increase their value from two to ten times at least. The level of craftsmanship of many Indian weapons exceeded that of contemporary European weapons.

Some Indian weapons were specially modified or designed to penetrate chainmail armour, which was generally the most formidable sort of armour encountered. The mail-piercer arrow, the peshkabz, and the zaghnal were so designed.

Arrow, mail-piercer: Mail-piercing arrows were designed to penetrate chain mail, and have a + 1 bonus to attack opponents clad in such armour. Such an arrow typically had a long shaft, four painted flights, and a hexagonal, steel, armour piercing head.

Bagh nakh: Also called "tiger's claws;' this weapon consisted of five metal claws fitted to a metal bar with a ring at each end. The first and fourth fingers were slid through the rings and the middle two fingers between the claws. An upward slash was the typical employment of the weapon. Bagh nakh were not generally a weapon for war, but rather for assassination or murder.

The wounds they inflicted were often meant to simulate those caused by an animal. Although similar to the nekode of Oriental Adventures bagh nakh do not assist in climbing. Such weapons would rarely be embellished in any way.

Buckler, spiked: An Indian spiked buckler typically consisted of a sturdy buckler with a pair of small, iron-shod horns protruding from the centre. It can be used to defend against a single frontal attack. Furthermore, characters who take the spiked buckler as a weapon of proficiency may also use it to attack in the same round in which it is used to defend, at a penalty equal to that assessed for an off-hand attack (Player's Handbook, page 96). Non-proficient characters may use it only to either attack or defend each round (but not both), with the attack made with a non-proficiency penalty.

Chakram: A flat, steel ring, with a razor-sharp rim, the chakram was used in the Northwest of India by Sikhs. Each one was spun around the index finger, then released. Warriors typically carried a half-dozen of these weapons, either around their arms or around a conical turban. This weapon's game statistics are as follows: rate of fire: 2; range: short 2, medium 4, long 6.

Gada: The Gada was a large war club with a large round woodenhead mounted on a haft. The gada's great damage can be attributed to the fact that it was a two-handed weapon and had an unusually large head. If used one-handed, the gada is at -1 to hit and inflicts the damage of a normal club (1-6/1-3). The gada was associated with various Indian martial arts.

Hora: This weapon was a horn knuckle-duster, typically having five spikes along its front edge and one on each side. The hora was used in the brutal Indian martial art vajra-musti, which combined wrestling with savage armed blows. Due to its size and shape, the hora can be easily concealed.

Although a simple weapon, it might even be found in the hands of a king who practices the martial arts associated with it.

Katar: This was a punch dagger. Rather than having a straight hilt, the katar had two parallel metal bars holding a crossbar grip at a 900 angle to the blade. As a punch dagger, the katar did a bit more damage than an ordinary dagger. In form, it was a uniquely Indian weapon, carried in the sash of a warrior.

Many varieties of katar existed. Some were made so that when the two metal bars forming the grip were squeezed together, the blade opened into a three-pronged weapon. Others had a blade split about halfway along its length, giving it two blade ends with a space between them. Still others had three fixed blades, the extra two protruding from the hilt at 900 angles to the primary blade. A DM may treat each of these varieties differently as outlined below, or may simply state that they all function identically.

Scissors katars have more blades to potentially stab an opponent. If a user strikes an opponent with a roll attack of 4 or higher than what was needed, the weapon does 4-7/3-6 hp damage, rather than 2-5/1-4. With the scissors katar (the "split-blade" variety), the user may attempt to parry rather than attack, gaining the benefits of that option (page 100, Player's Handbook). If parrying an edged weapon, the user gets a chance to trap it with the katar.

To see if this is successful, the character must attempt to hit an armour class equal to the speed factor of the weapon. If the attack was successful, the foe's blade is been caught, and its wielder must make a saving throw vs. petrifaction or have it jerked from his grasp. The save is at +1 if the weapon is size M, or at +2 if size L. Varieties with three fixed blades had more points to attack with. Th reflect this, give them a +1 bonus on all attack rolls. However, the side blades are smaller and less lethal than the main blade, so the weapon inflicts 1-4/1-3 hp damage.

Modified katars are more expensive than normal ones. Scissors katars cost 15 GP, and three-bladed and split-bladed katars 10 GP each. Khandar: A sword with a straight, reinforced blade, the khandar was intended for hacking. Often a bar projected from the weapon's pommel, allowing it to be gripped with two hands to deliver a more forceful blow. Another sword, called a sosun pattah, had a forward curving blade, but its intent was the same; for game purposes, these two weapons have identical characteristics.

Kora: This was a heavy short sword with a wide, forward-curving blade, used in northern India and Nepal. It was a hacking weapon, sharp only on its inner edge, and had no thrusting point. It was often decorated with etchings in the steel of the blade. Nepalese warriors might carry one of these and a kukri (q.v.).

Kukri: Perhaps the most characteristic weapon of Nepal and northern India, the kukri has a heavy, single-edged, forward curving blade for slashing. Despite its shape, it is not meant to be thrown. The kukri has been traditionally used by Nepalese warriors since the 12th century.

More than just a formidable fighting knife, the kukri is a rugged tool that can be used for skinning game or chopping wood. The kukri can do almost anything that either a knife or a hand axe can do, sometimes even better.

The only decoration likely to be found on one is a small pair of notches on the blade near the hilt. These notches mean "divinity" and reflect the kukri's status as a religious symbol. The kukri was accompanied by a pair of small utility knifes in its sheath. These are not weapons as such, inflicting only 1-2/1 hp damage, and are not capable of being thrown.

Madu: The madu was a sturdy buckler with an antelope horn, sometimes tipped with iron or steel, projecting from either side. Although the shield is buckler-sized, the horns assist in parrying, and because of them the madu can be used to defend against up to two frontal attacks.

Furthermore, characters proficient with the madu may also use it to attack (while defending with one of the long horns at a penalty equal to that assessed for an off-hand attack (Player's Handbook, page 96). Non-proficient characters may use it only to either attack or defend, with the attack made with a non-proficiency penalty.

Pata: A gauntlet sword, this long sword had a steel guard to protect the hand and wrist of its wielder, and had a punch grip like the katar (q.v.). If applicable, the pata user's hand and wrist are given AC 3 by the gauntlet.

A pata used by a character on a charging mount inflicts double base damage at the end of a charge. Such swords were quite often chased with precious metals or engraved with designs.

Peshkabz: This dagger, normally a straight-bladed weapon, has a reinforcing rib along its back edge. This reinforcement gives it a T cross-section that makes it especially useful for penetrating chain mail, against which it gains a +1 attack bonus. However, it cannot be used as an effective throwing weapon.

DMs who use weapon breakage rules should take this reinforcement into account, giving the peshkabz half the normal chance of breaking.

Talwar: This was a heavy, broad-bladed, curved sword sometimes forged from solid steel. Some talwars had considerably lighter blades, and these function exactly like scimitars in AD&D games. Both styles of talwar are among the most common swords encountered in Indian adventures. The talwar was often used as a sacrificial weapon.

Zaghnal: The zaghnal is a one-handed pick, usually fashioned entirely of steel, with a broad, sharp, beak-like piercing head. Even though it was only about 1 1/2'-2' long, it was also heavy and had great punching power. Give it a + 1 attack bonus vs. chain mail, which it was designed to penetrate.

Many zaghnal were decorated with brass, silver, or other precious metals and had beautifully etched heads and hafts, sometimes adorned with images of animals or monsters.

Many weapons popular in typical AD&D campaigns were used in India, but some have been slightly modified, and all will be crafted and embellished so as to have a wholly distinctive appearance. After each available weapon, names for similar weapons that conform to the same characteristics are listed in parentheses.

In addition to fine native steel, bamboo was a primary material used in Indian weapons. Bows, arrow and quarrel shafts, and the hafts of javelins, spears, maces, and other weapons were often made of bamboo.

Arquebus (bandukh torador): Matchlock weapons may be allowed in Indian adventures if the DM allows. They would be used for hunting or adventuring more than for warfare, for which the bow predominated.

Battle axes (tungi): A great variety of axes both double and single-headed, with heads in all possible shapes, were used throughout the subcontinent. They ranged from the dual-purpose weapon/tools of primitive tribesmen to the ornate weapons of aristocrats.

Bow: Long or short, composite or self, bows were available throughout India, although perhaps not all in the same areas. Long and short bows were often of bamboo, while composite bows were lacquered with a wood core, horn on the belly side, and sinew on the back. Bows were also sometimes made of steel in the shape of an Indian composite bow.

Club: All forms of clubs, sticks, curved sticks, and canes can be found used as weapons in an Indian adventure, all roughly conforming to the characteristics of a normal club. Certain of them, such as the curved sticks, may be associated with a martial-arts form.

Crossbow: Bows were the most common missile weapon available in India, and it is up to the DM whether or not crossbows will be available.

Dagger (bich, wa, khanjar, khanjarli, pih-kaetta): Many different types of daggers, in a multitude of exotic shapes, can be found in Indian adventures. Although of strange appearances or construction, most of them nonetheless function like normal daggers. However, peoples of certain regions, cults, or martial-arts disciplines may favour one type of dagger over another.

Dart: Indian darts were often of steel and could even be found in royal arsenals.

Hand axe (bhuj): Many varieties of hand axes could be found. In rustic areas, most of these doubled as tools.

Javelin: Bamboo-hafted, steel-headed javelins were used for both hunting and warfare.

Knife: The sort of variety found in daggers also applies to knives. In addition, many sorts of elaborate parrying knives were used.

DMs can allow such implements to be used either for an attack or to defend against a single frontal attack. If the parrying option is chosen (Player's Handbook, page 100), parrying knives give an additional +1 bonus to armour class. Parrying knives cost at least 4 GP.

Lance, light: Light lances were used in India, mostly in the western and central regions. One notable type made use of a hollow steel haft and had an armour-piercing steelhead.

Mace: Maces usually had flanged steelheads, and some had guarded and spurred hilts similar to that of the khandar (q.v.). A footman's mace fitted with such a hilt costs 16 GP, and if it is used two-handed, it gains +1 to damage.

Morning star: Morning stars were popular, being high-damage weapons. Indian weapons of this type have large heads and profound spikes, doing either bludgeoning or piercing damage, whichever is most beneficial to the user.

Some reflect a high level of craftsmanship; being entirely of steel or having hollowed steel heads. Indian morning stars are considered to be of higher quality than ones in a Western-style campaign and the former are more expensive, too, costing 20 GP.

Pick: All steel fighting picks were popular in India and its environs. In both one-handed styles, such as the zaghnal (q.v.), and the more typical two-handed varieties. Piercing weapons tend to be most effective against armour in any case (as per Table 52, page 90, Player's Handbook).

Many picks were designed especially for penetrating chain mail. In games, such picks are entirely of steel, have reinforced heads, and are +1 to attack chainmail-clad opponents. They cost 16 GP, weigh 10 lbs., have speed factor 8, and are only half as likely to break as standard picks. Because they are of higher quality than normal, many will be embellished, and 90% of magical picks in an Indian-style milieu will be of this type.

Staff (lathi): Staff-fighting was a common fighting form in India, and various types of modified staves can be found, almost always of cane or bamboo, and sometimes weighted.

Spear (vita): Naturally, many types of spears were used. One spear, the vita, was equipped with a 5'-Iong tether, allowing it to be hurled at an extreme close range, usually by a horseman, and then reclaimed.

Swords: Perhaps more so than any other weapon type, a great variety of swords can be found in the Indian milieu. Almost any type or variation is possible within the exotic plethora that existed. Many of these had specific names but are much like existing sword types (see below). Some, however, have no unique names, despite their singular appearances.

Bastard (ram dao): Some large swords had hollow iron tubes for hilts, or alternating sections of tubes and hollow iron balls. Generally, swords were not any bigger than the bastard type, and the khandar (q.v.) was probably the most formidable that would be normally encountered.

Broad: Heavy, one-handed hacking swords are the most common general types of sword found after the talwar (q.v.) type in an Indian adventure.

Long. Thrusting swords with more emphasis placed on the tip than the edges are the least frequently encountered type of sword in Indian campaigns.

Scimitar (shamshir): Curved swords of this general type are commonly found in the Indian milieu.

Short (choora, adya katti, zafar takieh): As with axes, short swords carried by rustics or tribesmen will usually also function as tools.


Draeger, Donn E, and Robert W Smith. Asian Fighting Arts. Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd., 1972. Harding, David, ed. Weapons. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990. Ward, Geoffrey C. The Maharajas Chicago: Stonehenge Press, Inc., 1983. Wilkinson, Frederick. Arms and Armour New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1971. 0

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