Sword (Firangi)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

About the work

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The word firangi means foreigner, and specifically Western European, in many Asian languages. It’s derived from the word Frank, indicating the Frankish rule of Western Europe during the Medieval period. Firangi swords are European blades, which Indian swordsmiths often fitted with local hilts. Portuguese colonists in South India, and then the British extending from the North, imported and traded blades. Local Indian swordsmiths also crafted their own versions of firangi blades. They often embellished imported blades as well. In this example, the gold and silver hilt is locally made. A local swordsmith has also inscribed the European blade with quotes from the Quran and other Islamic invocations of good luck. This form of using columns of religious calligraphy for good luck is called a talismanic scroll.

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