Polearms, Axes, Maces, Flails

2009/07/21 at 7:32 pm | Posted in Polearms, The Army of Siraj-ud-daula | Leave a comment

Indian polearms

The use of the polearm in India continued long after it had become obsolete in Europe and it was still carried into battle during the 19th century. The long spear was a particular favourite and was used as a thrusting rather than a throwing weapon in massed infantry formations. Battle-axes and Maces were all brought into play during battles of the 18th and 19th centuries.


Spears (nezah) were also used by cavalry in close combat. Indian cavalry were famed for their skill in duelling with spears on horseback. Examples in the Royal Armouries collection are made of tapering bamboo, with small heads and relatively long butt spikes, so they balance very close to the butt (and have a velvet grip at that point for the purpose). Because the bamboo is hollow, the spear is very light in weight for its size.

Another form of spear found all over northern India is the barcha, a spear made totally of steel, used by infantry rather than cavalry. Another spear is the ballam, a short broad-headed spear.








The saddle axe (tabarzin) had exactly the same combat benefits, and was used by armoured cavalry as an alternative to the mace. Again these are short weapons intended for single-handed use.



The mace (gorz) was used extensively in Northern india. It was an effective combat weapon against an armoured foe. Most Indian maces are therefore quite short and designed to be wielded in one hand. Some are fitted with sword hilts, mostly of the old Indian basked variety.


Probably from Rajasthan, 18 Century. This mace is 47 inches long, brass haft carrying a huge spherical steel head about 6 inches diameter, mounted with more than 150 square sharp brass spikes and a long top spike. The haft is fitted with a Khanda type handle.

18th century battle mace from India. It is composed of two flanged heads, with 8 blades each, mounted on a 35 inches steel haft with a steel button at the lower end.


Short flails, with spiked balls attached to the shaft by chain, were also made as hand-to-hand weapons in north India.




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