Historical weapons impress Nashikites


Weapons used by women and children

Replicas of historical weapons displayed at an exhibition in Bhonsala Military School spoke volumes about the wars during different periods

Sumita Sarkar Mahatmanagar
The replica of historical arms and armours captured the imagination of children, youngsters and elders alike, who felt transported to different periods of history merely by seeing, feeling and handling the weapons. The venue was the auditorium of the Bhonsala Military School, where the replicas were put up for display on Friday and Saturday.

Where museums failed, Institute of Research and Development in Oriental Studies – Arms and Armour (IRDOS) Pune, seems to have scored a point. The two-day arms and armoury exhibition by IRDOS is a case in point. “Unlike in museums where weapons are only put up for exhibition, here a thorough research was conducted and the weapons were displayed with eight different themes on eight different boards,” informed Rakesh Dhawade, a research fellow at IRDOS. At the entrance was the Replica Stall where all historical arms and armours were displayed. “The intention behind having this stall was that little children’s curiosity would be satisfied by touching and feeling these replicas,” said Dhawade adding that this would in turn instil love and interest for history in them. “They will find answers to their queries about historical wars. They also learn to value freedom. In Europe, such kinds of facilities are available. In whole of Asia, only IRDO has it,” he informed. Replicas of different types of guns, gun powder flasks, variety of bayonets, variety of swords (Indian and European), various types of armours and counter weapons, shields, spears, were on display. Touching and handling these weapons gave a fair idea of how difficult fighting in wars were earlier.

Lamellar armour, leather armour, chest plate armour, different types head gears fascinated people as they tried to lift and wear these with the help of the volunteers. A very rare weapon, ’gurj’ (mace), which is nearly 400-450 years old was also on display. Brown base India pattern long barrel musket, which was used in India’s first war of Independence in 1857, assumed an important place in the exhibition. “This weapon gave us a deep feeling of patriotism,” expressed a visitor and a college student, Mohit Shah. Replica of another rare weapon, Matchlock Gun, was also handled by the excited students.

After this stall, were the boards with themes. The first board displayed the weapons of the Marathas, like Tiger Claws, Bichwa, Maadu, Bhidchir, Dandpatta etc. The second board had a variety of battle-axes and spearheads, some sacrificial battle-axes known as Gandarmuhali in Andhra Pradesh, the famous Safejung from Punjab and spears etc. “The institute had differentiated between hunting and fishing spears,” informed Dhawade. Cavalry arms like deep-curved swords, broad belt battle saddle axes, Naiza-type of spear etc adorned the third board. On the fourth, daggers were on display, like Afghan dagger – Peshkabj, Tirreghati sura, Kukri etc.

Ceremonial (Darbari) weapons used by kings, knights and Generals occupied the fifth board. Fully inlaid with gold, silver and ivory, the weapons, indicated the rank of the person wearing it, his socio-economic status and socio- economic stability of that period. The hilt of one of the dagger was made of jade!

The sixth board was the most unique one as it displayed weapons of women and children throughout India, who had a huge contribution in the history of the country. “For the first time we are seeing such kinds of weapons!” exclaimed Shreeja Nair a school student. The seventh board had a variety of armours and counter weapons. “It is very important to show both, or else it would be incomplete information. When we say that one could protect oneself with armours, we also need to inform that counter weapons for breaking these armours also existed,” explained Dhawade. The last board depicted the development of firearms. Various types of pistols and cartridge instruments, historical guns etc were on display. Matchlock, Flintlock and Percussion Cape were the specialties of the board. The guns (replicas) were used by Indians in the 1857 war and two of these were also used by actor Aamir Khan for his period film, ’Mangal Pandey’, informed Dhawade.

The idea of displaying replicas of ancestral weapons was unique for Nashikites and a good way of familiarising people, especially children, with the weapons of the by-gone era. It was like periods being re-lived.



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