Survival has always been a top priority of human life rest every thing comes later. Though humans are not blessed with power of elephant, lion or crocodile, they have been blessed with a brilliant mind which they have used to create weapons of various types that helped them in fighting their powerful adversaries and made their survival possible on this earth.

Since from the pre-historic times humans have invested a lot of efforts in inventing weapons of various types in accordance to their needs. 

In the stone age era and bronze age we don't come across the incidents of major wars the weapons used were made of stone, bronze or copper which were brittle and ineffective in fighting a war so these weapons were probably created for Hunting and other minor cutting needs 

However with the discovery of Iron the meaning of weapons changed instead of survival the weapons were created to fight wars and conquer territories. During this time one of that the most significant weapon which changed the course of human history forever was Sword. 

The Swords that were made of Iron were highly effective in giving strong and lethal blows to enemy. The strength of Iron was such that it could give several blows not just on human body or animals but also on hard surfaces that were made of wood, stone, metal etc. and that too without even getting tempered . 

With the course of time many types of Sword emerged all around the word but one such place which is known as the hub of ancient sword making was Indian subcontinent.This place has always been known for its exquisite as well as deadly Sword craft. 

With its vastness and diversity every region in Indian subcontinent came up with numerous sword designs. Indian swordmakers were highly skilled and their swords were highly appreciated for their sharpness, strength, durability and beautifull designs all across the world. 

An Indian swordmaker
An Indian swordmaker at work 18th century CE. 

History of sword making and various Sword types in Indian subcontinent is a great topic for research and should not be ignored by serious history lovers.

Today we will discuss about some of the ancient as well as medieval sword types that were known to be created in India. Many of these sword types were of indegenous style but some of them also carried foreign influence. 

Let's take a look at some of them.

Churi / Kartri

The sacrificial sword, used in the regions of Bengal  and Assam .The sword was heavy and used for animal sacrifice especially that of Bulls during durga ashtami to celebrate goddess Durga's Victory over Mahishasura the demon.

The shape of blade is like a hook which is single edged and is broader on the top side. The blunt edge surface is broader on the top side. The blunt edge surface is beautiful engraved with hindu designs in red colour.

Sword in India
A Churi (hook sword) image Credit- Metmuseum

At the hook part eye of Kali with eyebrows is carved it's length is about 18-20 inches and width is around 4.5 inches. 

The shear look of sword and it heaviness could bring horror into the minds of those who used to be awarded capital punishments in these kingdoms.

The Khanda

As the name suggests it means weapon which breaks apart in Sanskrit. Khanda is a traditional Indian Sword used all across Indian subcontinent in fact it is the most ancient of the Sword designs that existed in India. The timeperiod of its origin is still unknown but various panel arts on ancient temples shows it as a favourite weapons of hindu gods and goddeses which gives a hint that it was quite a popular Sword type in ancient India. 

During Medieval era It was more popularised by legendary Rajput Warriors against islamic invaders.In later eras it was used in modified form (double edged) by Marathas and Sikh warriors. 

Its Speciality is its straight, broad blade which widens towards the blunt Point with a decorated metal border on the back. (Initially it was single edged but its recent designs are found to be double edged especially the ones used by Marathas and Sikhs). 

Khanda sword of India
Khanda Sword a Maratha version

The Khanda is a heavy sword usually designed to land heavy blows on a well protected opponent in order to give lethal wounds by breaking his armour. Its grip curves slightly forward and has a broad closed guard, which continues up to the large, flat , circular pommel and is comfortably padded for the hand. A slightly curved spikes project from the center of the pommel which not only act as an additional guard but may also be used as a grip for the other hand when two handed blow is needed. The sheath used to cover khanda is generally made of pure leather with an embossed silver top(chape). 

Ram Dao

This Sword was purely built for sacrificial purpose. Sacifice of goat and sometimes even buffalo. This Sword was popular in the territories, east of ganges like Bengal and Assam. However its different versions were also used even in northern India. 

It often bores an inscription in Bengali 'jay kali' (Victory to Kali) and the Sword was itself regarded as the physical manifestation of the goddess's power of severance. It was made in various shapes but consisted basically of a short, turned wooden handle with a large, flat, single edged blade which was shaped like a sickle and was usually 24-32 inch long. 

Ram dao sword of india
Ram Dao a sacrificial sword of Eastern India

The blade is heavy usually decorated with engravings in red colour on the surface of blunt side and is characterised by an eye with eyebrow on the top point painted in red, yellow and black. 


The sword has Arabic origin but its use in India was popularized during turkish rule. The basic design is curved and bifurcated blade. It's basic feature is the double ending of its blade .

Zulfiqar sword used in India
Zulfiqar sword (image Credit- Metmuseum)

Many scholars think most Muslim monarchs used to carry this weapon as a sacred gift from their prophet (Prophet Mohammed) who used Zulfiqar as his most favourite weapon. Amir Khusro in his account Khaza in-ul-futuh mentions Zulfiqar as the weapon used by Alauddin Khilji to behead infidels on various occasions.


Most Indians commonly use the word Talwar for any kind of swords or long blade. However outside India it was known as a Indian made sword which looked curved like a saber.

Talwar is an Indian sabre said to be developed in the 16th century under mogul rule by combining various local and foreign features chiefly persian, Mongol and Turkish. Although the prestige of Persian blades remained supreme , Indian swordsmaker had no problems in developing a new form because their skills in metallurgy were advanced, particularly in producing the watered steel called wootz.

Talwar sword of india
Talwar a medieval era sabre (image credit-Metmuseum)

Each talwar was decorated by chasing, gilding, or etching , with floral or abstract motifs, inscriptions (arabic) and sometimes with human as well as zoomorphic figures, sometimes in relief.

In addition to that there were several forms of talwar hilts decorated with diamond rubies and gold had bellied grip running down in quillons, usually terminating in flattened bulbs. The grip was surmounted by a saucer pommel with a dome topped by a finial. A curved knuckle guard was often incorporated.

Sheath for talwar was made by using both wood and leather the warrior clans among Hindus and Muslims were extremely careful of their swords and had many of their favourite talwars custom made by their sword makers .

Kora/ Kaura /Kharga

It's a popular sword in Nepal but in India it is known as Kharga. Origin is in northern India dates back to 9th or 10th century its design looks like a Greek Kopis. But unlike Greek Kopis it's a proper sword with a heavy blade generally used for animal sacrifice . However it's other lighter versions was also used in wars. The Kora has single edged blade which is around 24 inch long strongly inward-curving, and usually terminating in two concave cuts in the very broad end.

Kora sword or Kharag of India
Kora or Kharag sword 

Near the lower tip is a black-filled, engraved pattern of a lotus flower enclosed in a circle with ornamentation along the back edge of each face. The steel hilt , which sometimes incorporate brass elements, consist of a grip between discs i.e the guard and the pommel which is usually topped with a dome and, frequently, a decorative knob.

The sheath has wide end to fit in the blade and is fastens with buttons along the back. These leather sheaths were sometimes covered with velvet embroidered with silk or furnished with silver mounts.

In early medieval North India Kshatriya caste used to own this heavy sword which was a status symbol as well as added some weight to the personality of the warriors and they were reffered as Kharag Dhari Kshatriya. Kora sword was used by Gorkha soldiers in Anglo British war of 1814-1816.

Pata sword/ Danda Pata

One of the authentic Indian design and a  real war sword that was commonly used in wars during medieval era. Its design was further developed by the 17th century Maratha warriors . It had a flat usually double edged and a gauntlet hilt. The blade was often european , generally Italian or Spanish. The hilt of pata is attached to the blade by a pair of riveted plaques that run down the faces of the blade for a few inches. 

Pata sword of india
Pata sword a modified version (Image Credit-Metmuseum )

The hilt is in the form  of a combined grip and gauntlet, usually chased and gilded with floral and animal motifs . Across the interior of the gauntlet was a transverse grip,and at the top of the gauntlet was a metal loop to fasten the firearm. The interior of this gauntlet hilt was padded.

It is said Pata actually evolved from the legendary Katar and it needed a dedicated training to handle and get good results in battles but was a very effective weapon for an experienced swordsman.


This was a kind of sword used in Southern and central India , the Pattisa has a very broad, heavy ,double-edged blade reaching 1m in length,often with decorative designs in both edges, and widening towards the point, which was occasionally rounded. 

Pattisa sword of india
Pattisa sword (Image credit-Metmuseum)

It was fitted with Hindu hilt, which had a closed guard,or with the saucer-pommeled open hilt and short quillons with down-turning finials. It's sheath was made of leather and followed the shape of the blade.


We have not included any knives in this list but this famous knife from southern India can easily qualify for a sword with its length and sturdy design . This was a long knife used by Coorg tribe , in the Tamil language Pichangatti means handknife. It's single edged blade was straight, broad and heavy. The length was around 10 inch . 

Pichangatti sword of india
Pichangatti sword (Image credit- Metmuseum)

The hilt was, usually of the pistol grip form leaning slightly towards the cutting edge,had a protuberant, rounded pommel and is made of two pieces of horn or silver or brass mounts and a suspension chain to which even a manicure set is sometimes fitted. Some particularly fine Pichangatti knives are decorated with gold.

Sosun pattah

This was a Cut-and-thrust sword of northern India with a blade closely related to kopis . The word literally means "lily leaf" , which is certainly suitable for the blade, which is broad, single-edged and incurving. It had two variations one was Rajput another one was Islamic.

Sosun pattah sword of india
Sosun pattah sword

The typical Rajput sosun pattah has a padded basket hilt with a saucer-like pommel surmounted by an elongated curved knob, while the Islamic sosun pattah has an open hilt with a strong cross guard and langets,the grip being surmounted by a disc pommel.


This was also called as Firangi . It was A European style Sword made with an Indian blade. The Sword had a long ,thin and straight blade with two fullers and long Steel reinforced riveted to the blade and forming part of the Guard.

Sukhela or Firangi sword

Its blade was flexible and could bend like a european rapier sword. The hilt was like typical hindu basket hilt. The Guard was usually decorated with gold work and flower motifs. The blade ended with a circular pommel at the bottom which was also decorated. 

Most popular among Marathas and was probably their invention eventually got popular among other Indian warrior classes. 


It was a kind of saber having a Persian influence design. The word literally means lions tail in Persian. The shamshir blade has in fact a very pronounced curve somewhat resembling the tail of a lion. The blade was straight from the hilt but,over halfway to the point,it curved back to give a perfect line for the draw cut.

A shamshir sword from India
Shamshir sword

It was made of high grade Indian wootz steel, the quality of which is vital to the weapon's efficiency and it's it's weight, shape and length are also important was a perfectly balanced weapon . The blade length was around 30-35 inches and narrow but thick and heavy. The width of blade remains same from hilt to the foible, where it tapers to a point, while the back is slightly rounded.

The flat blade of the shamshir is rarely fullered or decorated except with an occasional inscription and swordsmith's signature inlaid with gold and sometimes engraved. Shamshir hilt used to be simple and elegant while the grip was quite frequently made of two rounded plates of walrus ivory,continued to the tang and slightly towards the pommel.

Shamshir sword of India
A beautifully ornated Shamshir sword

It's sheath was made of wood covered with leather.Due to its persian design and all types ornamentation it was one of the most sought after sword during the Mughal period which was quite poplar among the Mughal nobles which they would gift each other as a mark of respect and this was also seen as a status symbol during those days.


As the name suggests it was a secretive weapon kept hidden under the garb of a walking stick. It was certainly not a war weapon but to protect oneself from a covert attack.

Gupti sword from India
Gupti a hidden sword with its sheath

It was quite popular in northern and central India. Gupti blades were sharp pointed and occasionally double-edged. The handles were either straight,with a knob at the top ,or curved, made of iron,wood,bone or horn,they were often decoratively carved or inlaid with silver or gold. The length of blade varied from 16 inches to 39 inches. 

Golia Sword

It was a sword with a very sharp curve which appeared to look like a semi circle and resembled a crecent that's why word 'Gol' (round) was used for it. This was light blade with length approximately 30 inches and a simple hilt with silver knuckle guard.

A golia sword from India
Goliya sword 

This was quite popular in northwest India was used by Sikh warriors.


A type of Indian sabre developed in the 16th - 17th centuries. it had a deeply curved broad blade ,which either gradually tapered to the point or had a distinctive flaring edge that added to its cutting power of the sword. 

A tegha sword from India
A Tegha sword from India notice the broad curved blade.

The blade used was Indian wootz steel .These massive 30-35 inches long and 3 inches broad swords were used both for warfare and for executioning, despite the weight being on heavier side it's balance was excellent.

Ayda Katti or Katti

This sword was from South India. Commonly used in Coorg region . Its blade was heavy and broad curved and single-edged ,widening towards the point and sharp on the concave side.

Ayda Katti Sword from India
Ayda Katti Sword

It's wooden hilt often painted red and decorated with silver rosettes had no guard but a large,flat ,kite shaped pommel. Ivory hilts were also used . 

The blade length was around 18-20 inches. The Ayda Katti  is carried without a sheath on the wearer's back, where it passes through a flattened brass ring, a todunga which was fasten to wearer's belt.


A great Indian invention which is a popular weapon in Kerala region. It was a sword with flexible edged steel which is shaped like a whip to give maximum damage.

In a hopeless situation user can fight a lone battle with urumi against higher number of adversaries . Each blow from Urumi has potential to do some serious damage to enemy.

The length of blades which is 5-6 feets in length and also saves the user from his enemy by keeping them at bay and saves him by constantly attacking on all the sides.

Urumi sword of india
A martial artist practicing with multi-bladed Urumis

The hilt is constructed either of Iron or brass and is identical to that of other swords in India.

Khukri/ Kukri

A principal weapon of Gorkhas from Nepal. This weapon was also used in hilly regions of Garhwal and Kumaon. It comes in various sizes . The forward angled blade, shows that it is closely related to the ancient Greek swords machaira & kopis . Which was introduced by Alexander and his men in India.

Kukris at display in a Gorkhali house ( Image credit- Khukri house)

It's a time tested weapon has used in many battles and has always proved to be highly effective whether you charging on enemies or clearning dense jungles of Africa, khukri always gave these Gorkha men edge over their enemies. 

Its blade is heavy , curved curved , single edged and sharp on the concave side.

The khukri hilt is usually made of darkwood or ivory , it is straight and has no guard, occasionally it has a disc pommel and a guard often a ridge ring in the middle. The sheath is strong made of wood and covered with leather.

Kayamkulam Vaal

Belongs to Kerala region of India. It is a double edged sword with a thin long blade. Which takes towards end it's length is approximately 34 inches and width decreases from 5 mm to 1 mm from hilt to top. 

This sword used a European blade the iron hilt ends into a disc pommel. The iron hilt is decorated with attractive geometric designs in silver lines and dots.

Kayamkulam vaal a sword of india
Kayamkulam sword notice the straight thin blade.

This was an effective and light weapon used in war traditionally by malayali warriors. The name Kayamkulam which later became Travancore in 18th century.

Moplah Sword

The weapon was used by moplah Muslim peasants against the hindu landlords and British Colonial government. The curved shape of weapon reminds that of a ayad katti sword. 

The blade is light wide and double edged which is broader near to the tip, slightly curved . It is characterized by a long handle which is made of curved wood , horn or bone. 

Moplah Sword of India
A Moplah Sword 

The length of blade made its possible for weilder to use it with both hands. The pommel is often covered with a metal disc. The handle carries beautiful design curved to signify traditional or religious beliefs of moplah people. 

It's length is about 18-20 inches and at the widest point it is about 5 inches broad. No sheath was used and it was held in wide belt. No sheath was used and it was held in a wide belt which was fastened on the back.

Zafar Takiyeh

The 'cushion of victory' i.e after the victory when the leader of warrior address his men he uses this Zafar Takiyeh . The comfortable broad handle is made to allow the user to hold it like a supporting stick.

Zafar Takiyeh a sword from India
A Zafar Takiyeh sword with its sheath

This was used by Indian princes when seated on a cushion to give audiences. There were two types of Zafar takiyeh. 

One had straight narrow blade, oval or diamond shaped in cross section, and a handle like a simple crutch at right angle to the blade.

The other one has a wide slightly curved blade often fullered, and a hilt like that of a Talwar but with a crutch shaped pommel to form a rest for the arm or hand.

As it was not a war weapon it was highly decorated with gold carvings on jade handle and blade was built of prestigious wootz steel . Carrying this sword showed the noble status of wielder.

Kabui Naga Dao

The North East part of India had a very common name for swords which was called as 'Dao'. Various Tribes living in northeast had different designs of 'Dao' which varied according to their regions and their needs. 

Kabui Naga Dao sword of India
Kabui Naga Dao (Image credit- Atkinson's collection

The Kabui Naga Dao was used by Kabui Naga tribe in Nagaland and in regions near Assam and Manipur it was a rare weapon with quiet an unconventional blade design.

The sword was large and had an edge that remained quite sharp. The blade was used for ceremonial dances as well as for the war and hunting needs of kabui tribe.

The unsharped end had designs painted in red. This sharply curved blade heavyily  weighed in the zone of maximum percussion, had a wooden hilt that could accommodate either one or two handed grip to assure a strong and fatal blow.

Kachin Dao

The kachin dao sword was used by kachin tribe which resides in eastern Nagaland. The kachins are fierce warriors and are also known as headhunters of northeast.

Their traditional weapon is kachin dao which resembles almost like a matchete. it helped them in fighting wars, hunting and clearing Jungle for agriculture.

Kachin dao swords of India
Kachin Dao (Image Credit-David.J.Atkinson private collection )

The length of Kachin dao used to be around 31 inches and it's blade was double edged straight heavy square ended with the chisel edge, that used to be narrowest at the hilt. 

It's hilt was traditionally made of wood and could be used comfortably with just one hand.


It  was long deeply curved damascus Steeled saber made for single hand use and was quite popular in Afghanistan during 18th -19th century. 

It's hilt was characterized by two quillons which were short and turned to point in the direction of the blade in the manner similar to some shamsheer.

Pulwar an Afghan sword
Pulwar an Afghan saber, notice the inverted cup shaped pommel and two quillons connected to hilt.

The hilt of a pulwar was made of iron and attached to the tang of the the blade by an epoxy resin. Unlike the flat disc surrounding the pommel of the Tulwar, the pommel of Pulwar exhibited an inverted Cup shape pommel. 

Both hilt and blade were ornately engraved with various Islamic inscriptions, designs and images.

That's it guys thanks !!

Special thanks

This write up was inspired by the History TV 18's popular TV series - Forged in Fire


  1. David J Atkinson's private collection
  2. Metropolitan museum's gallery on Indian Swords
  3. Arms & Armours by Michele Byam 1944
  4. Weapons : an international encyclopedia from 5000 B.C. to 2000 A.D.
  5. The complete encyclopedia of arms & weapons by New York : Simon and Schuster
  6. Arms and Armour by Wilkinson Fredrick 1922.

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