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Ain-i Akbari weaponry

Mughal weapons greatly evolved during the ruling periods of Babur, Akbar, Aurangzeb and lastly Tipu Sultan. The military of the Mughal Empire used a variety of weapons in its conquests throughout the centuries, including various types of: swords, bows and arrows, horses, camels, elephants, cannons (some of them the world's largest), muskets and flintlock blunderbusses.


Defensive armour

The generic name for arms and armour was silah, plural adah. Weapons and armour of all kinds were much prized in India, much taste and ingenuity being expended on their adornment. Every great man possessed a choice collection.

Armour was worn by all horsemen who could afford it. Officers of a certain rank were required to produce it at the time of inspection, subject to a fine if it were not forthcoming. The use of armour was never discontinued. It was even worn by men of European descent when they entered the native service.

Armour worn by soldiers

Full Mughal armour

Hanging from the cuirass was generally a skirt, which was at times of velvet embroidered with gold. A qabchal or jacket, quilted and slightly ornamented, was worn underneath the body armour. Silken trousers and a pair of kashmir shawls round the waist completed the costume of a nobleman of high rank. Common soldiers wore an ample upper garment, quilted thick with cotton, coming down as far as the knee. These coats would deaden the stroke of a sabre, stop the point of an arrow, and above all kept the body cool by intercepting the rays of the sun. The irregular cavalry throughout India were mostly dressed in quilted cotton jackets. The best of these habiliments were not stuffed with cotton, but made of a number of cotton cloths quilted together. This served as a defensive armour. Heads were swathed round, and under the chin, with linen to the thickness of several folds. It is difficult to do any damage to thick cotton armour with a sword blow, except by cutting. At times soldiers stuffed their jackets with the refuse silk of cocoons, which they believed would even turn a bullet.

Description of each part of body armour

Armour name Description Body Part Protected Material
Khud, Dabalghah, or Top. A steel headpiece with a vizor or nose-guard. Khud is the more usual name. Dabalghah refers to a form of helmet of chaghatae origin. Top is a helmet mainly used by Marathas. Face Steel
Khoghi Something worn on the head, which may have been folds of cloth adjusted on the head to protect it from a sword blow. Head Silk or cotton cloth
Mighfar A long piece of mail or network of steel worn under the cap or hat, hanging down from the helmet over the neck and back, in battle as a protection for the face, also a helmet. Neck and back Steel
Baktar or Bagtar Body armour in general, whether of the cuirass or chain-mail type. Baktar was the name for fish-scale armour. Chest Steel
Chahar-ainah Four pieces, a breast plate and a back plate, with two smaller pieces for the sides, all connected with leather straps. Chest and back Steel and leather
Zirih A coat of mail including sleeves composed of steel links. The coat reached to the knees. Bagtar (fish scales) or the chahar ainah (cuirass) was worn over the zirih. Body up to knees
Jaibah A general name for any kind of iron armour. It may be a coat of mail or a cuirass. Apparently, it was covered with small studs or knobs. Example Iron
Joshan A steel breastplate extending to the region of the stomach and bowels. Breast, stomach and bowels Steel
Jihlam A form of vizor for a helmet Face
Angarkhah A long, tight-fitting coat, wadded so as to turn a sword-cut. It was worn over armour
Daglah or Dagla A coat of quilted cloth. cloth
Jamah-i-fatahi A fine silken robe which on the day of battle was put on beneath the coat of mail. Body Silk
Chihilqad A doublet worn over armour. It had forty-folds Body
Sadiqi A coat of mail something like the joshan in shape, but with epaulettes.
Kothi A long coat of mail worn under the breastplate and opening down the front. Chest Silk or Cotton
Bhanja A sleeveless jacket.
Kamal A cuirass or wadded coat, possibly made of blanketing on the outside. There were wadded coats of quilted cotton, as well as of wool, which would stand the stroke of a sabre. Stuffed with silk refuse, they were considered capable of withstanding a bullet. This sort of protection was very common. Mainly used were Kamal-posh. Cotton or Wool
Ghughwah A long coat and cowl of mail, all in one piece. Steel or iron
Kantha-sobha A neck-piece or gorget. Worn by the man rather than the horse, it was sometimes also attached to the horse's neck. Neck
Dastwanah A gauntlet, or mailed glove, with a steel arm-piece. Hands, arms Steel and other material
Ranak An iron leg-piece or greave. It is a connection, a formation like a dastak, or to be (as it were) carried in the hand. Leg
Mozah-i-ahani An iron-stocking, a smaller form of the ranak. Leg Iron
Patkah Some part of military equipment mainly worn by both Sayyads and horse-breakers (chabuk-suwaran).

Animal armour

This mainly applied to horses.

Name of Armour Animal Body Part Material
Ahwal-ul-Khawaqin Armour worn by elephants
Bargustuwan Horse armour worn in battle
Kajim A piece of armour for the hind-quarters of a horse, put on over a quilted cloth called artak-i-kajim. Hind-quarters of a horse
Qashqah A sect-mark or tilak, applied on the centre of the forehead. Forehead
Gardani A shaped head and neck-piece, a hood, part of a set of horse-clothing. Head and neck cloth
Horse trappings Horse trappings were often richly adorned with silver or gold, embroidery or jewels. When so enriched they were styled saz-i-tilae, or saz-i-marassa. The names of the various articles are as follows: paltah - headstall, inan - reins, zerband - martingale, dumchi - crupper, khogir - saddle, ustak - shabracque, balatang - surcingle, rikab - stirrups, shikarband - ornamental tassels at the corners of saddles. The bow or pommel of a saddle was either a qarbus or a qash. Silver or gold.
yaltang-posh Some sort of horse equipment

Offensive arms

Short arms

The cavalry carried a great variety of arms. Most relied on were those styled the kotah-yaraq, or short arms, i.e., those used at close quarters. These short arms may be ranged into five classes: swords and shields, maces, battle-axes, spears, and daggers. Weapons for more distant attack were the bow (kaman) and arrow (tir), the matchlock (banduq or tufanq), and the pistol. Rockets were also used, but by the artillery (topkhanah).

All were not carried by any man at one time, but many were so carried, and, in a large army, all of them were to be found in use by someone or other. The great number of weapons that a man carried is graphically depicted by Fitzclarence, in the case of a petty officer of the Nizam's service, who commanded his escort: "Two very handsome horses with superb caparisons belong to this jamadar, who is himself dressed in a vest of green English broad cloth laced with gold, and very rich embroidered belts. A shield of buffalo hide with gilt bosses is hung over his back. His arms are two swords and a dagger, a brace of English pistols, and he has his matchlock carried before him by a servant."


They have a sort of foppery with respect to their sword-belts, which are in general very broad and handsomely embroidered. On horseback, they are worn over the shoulder, but the sword was not always carried in a belt hung from the shoulder. Sometimes the man carried his sword by three straps hanging from a waist-belt. The generic name of a sword was tegh (Arabic), shamsher (Persian), or talwar (Hindi). The Arabic word saif was also used occasionally. One kind of short sword was called the nimchah-shamsher.

The names of the various parts are, teghah (blade), nabah (furrows on blade), qabzah (hilt), jaenarela, sarnal or muhnal, and tahnal (metal mountings of scabbard), kamrsal (the belt?) bandtar. The quality or temper of a blade was its ab (water) or jauhar (lustre). The name of the belt was hamalat.

Types of blades

Name Type Description Origin Place of usage Material
Shamsher Scimitar A curved weapon similar to a scimitar. It is purely a cutting weapon, as its shape and the small size of the grip demonstrate. Oriental Steel
Dhup Straight sword Adopted from the Dakhin, this straight sword had a broad blade, four feet long, and a cross hilt. It was considered an emblem of sovereignty and high dignity, and was therefore displayed on state occasions, being carried in a gorgeous velvet covering by a man who held it upright before his master. It also lay on the great man's pillow when he was seated in darbar, engaged in the transaction of public business. This kind of sword was conferred upon successful soldiers as a distinction, great nobles, or court favourites. Deccan Deccan and Hindustan Steel
Khanda Straight sword Apparently identical with the dhup.
Sirohi Scimitar Whoever was struck on the head by these Indian blades was cleft to the waist, or if the cut were on the body, he was divided into two parts. This sword had a slightly curved blade, shaped like a Damascus blade, slightly lighter and narrower than the ordinary talwar. They were made in Sirohi Damascus Rajasthan Damascus steel
Patta Gauntlet-rapier A narrow-bladed, straight rapier with a gauntlet hilt, seen now chiefly when twirled about vigorously by the performers in a Muharrara procession. Muharrara procession Maharashtra Steel
Gupti Straight sword A straight sword concealed in a walking stick sheath. The head or handle and a fakir's crutch were closely allied in appearance, The crutch is of dagger length and the weapon looks like a short crooked staff, about three feet in length. Used by persons of rank as an emblem of humility Steel

A shield was inseparable from the sword as part of the swordsman's equipment. It was carried on the left arm, or when out of use, slung over the shoulder. They were of steel or hide, generally from 17 to 24 inches in diameter. If of steel, they were often highly ornamented with patterns in gold damascening. If of hide, they bore silver or gold bosses, crescents, or stars. Shields were of sambar deer, buffalo, nilgau, elephant, or rhinoceros hide, the last being the most highly prized. Brahmans, who objected to leather, had shields made of forty or fifty folds of silk painted red and ornamented. The curious snakeskin (nagphanl) shield is not a Mughul weapon.

  • Chirwah and Tilwah — These were the shields carried by the Shamsherbaz, or gladiators, groups of whom always surrounded Akbar on the march.
  • Fencing Shields — These were small circular shields of cane or bamboo. With allusion to their form they were called dahl because their shape was similar to that of a lentil. The quaint implement, maru or singauta, was made from a pair of antelope horns tipped with steel and united at the butt-ends. Sainti may be classed as parrying shields.

The mace (gurz) usually formed part of the panoply of a Mughul warrior if he were of any considerable rank. The gurz is a short-handled club with three large round balls at the end. Another kind, the shashbur, or "lung-tearer", has a single round-shaped head. Other similar weapons were the dhara, the garguz and the khandli phansi. The dhara has a six-bladed head and octagonal steel shaft. It is 2 feet long, and came from Kolhapur. The garguz had eight-bladed heads and basket hilts or is seven-bladed with a basket hilt. Its length varied from 2 feet, 4 inches to 2 feet, 10 inches. The khundli phansi is 19 inches long and has a head of open scroll work.

The flail is a weapon that may be classed with the mace, along with the pusht-khar, or "back-scratcher", made of steel in the shape of a hand. The khar-i-mahi, or "fish backbone", has steel spikes projecting from each side of a straight head. The weapon called the gujbag is the common elephant goad or ankus.


The battle-axe (tahar) was a triangular blade with one broad cutting edge. When the head was pointed and provided with two cutting edges, the axe was called a zaghnol, or "crow's beak". A double headed axe with a broad blade on one side and a pointed one on the other side of the handle was styled a tabar zaghnol. An axe with a longer handle, called tarangalah, was also in use. The shafts of the tabar range from 17 inches to 23 inches in length; the heads measure from 5 to 6 inches one way and 3 to 5 inches the other way. Some of the heads are crescent shaped, and one of the shafts is hollowed and contains daggers. A 'Basolah' looks most like a chisel. Highly ornamented silver axes were carried for display by the attendants in the hall of audience.


The usual generic name used for spears of all kinds was sinan. The head or point was called sunain and the butt was the hunain. There were several varieties of this class of weapon. The cavalry, however, seem to have confined itself to the use of the lance (nezah), and the other kinds were used by foot soldiers and the guards surrounding the emperor's audience hall. There is also some evidence, at any rate among the Marathas, for the use of a javelin or short spear, which was thrown.

Name Description Usage Material
Nezah A cavalry lance with a small steel head and a long bamboo shaft. The nezah was a prominent a part of the Maratha equipment, carried by nezah-bazan (lance-wielders). No cavalry was said to be able to cope with them. Some 20,000 to 30,000 lances were held up against the enemy, so close together as not to leave a span between the bearer's heads. If horsemen tried to ride them down, the points of the spears were leveled at the assailants, who were then unhorsed. While the cavalry were charging, the lances were struck against each other, and the noise so frightened the horses that they turned around and bolted. As to the usual mode of wielding the spear, a man on horseback held his spear uplifted above his head at the full length of his arm. Mainly used by cavalry Bamboo, steel
Barchhah A mughal weapon also used by Marathas. Its distinctive feature is that it was made wholly of iron or steel, shaft as well as head. This heavy spear could hardly have been wielded by a man on horseback, and was no doubt confined to the infantry. Infantry Steel
Sang Entirely of iron, this spear was much shorter than the barchhah, but some are 7 feet 11 inches in total length, of which the head accounted for 2 feet 6 inches. They have long, slender, four- or three-sided heads, steel shafts, and a grip covered with velvet. Iron
Sainthi The shaft is still shorter than that of the sang.
Selarah A spear with a head and shaft longer than those of the sainthi but not so long as those of the sang.
Ballam A spear, pike, or lance with barbed heads and wooden shafts, total length 5 feet 11 inches, of which the blade takes up 18 inches. Ballam is a short spear with a broad head, used by infantry. Infantry
Pandi-ballam A hog-spear with a leaf-shaped blade and bamboo shaft, total length 8 feet 3 inches (blade 2 feet 3 inches). Bamboo and steel or iron
Panjmukh Five-headed spear used by the people of Gujarat Used in Gujarat
Lange A Mughal lance with a four-cornered iron head and a hollow shaft
Garhiya Pike, javelin, spear
Alam Spear (properly a standard or banner)
Kont Spear
Gandasa A sort of bill-hook or pole-axe. A steel chopper attached to a long pole. Used by chaukidar or village watchmen
Daggers and knives

These were of various shapes and kinds, each with a separate name.

Name Description Type Usage Material
Katara or Katari A poignard peculiar to India made with a hilt, whose two branches extend along the arm so as to shelter the hand and part of the arm. The blade is very thick with two cutting edges, having a breadth of three inches at the hilt and a solid point of about one inch in breadth. The blade cannot be bent and is so stiff that nothing will stop it but a cuirass. The total length is 2 to 22 feet, one half of this being the blade. The hilt has a cross-bar at right angles to the blade by which the weapon is grasped, and it is thus only available for a forward thrust. Some of them are slightly curved. The blades are of various patterns, and the length varies from 9 to 175 inches. Some look like a fork or are two-bladed. Push dagger Deccan and Hindustan
Jamdhar This has the same handle as a katara but the blade is very broad and straight, while the katara blade may be either straight or curved. The jamdhar katari has a straight blade and a handle to be held as one holds a table-knife or a sword. Straight blade
Khanjar A dagger, poignard. Most have doubly-curved blades and are about 12 inches long. The khanjar is a bent dagger with a double curve in the blade and a hilt like a sword. The khanjar originated among the Turks, who carry it upright and on the right side, but it is occasionally worn by both Persians and Indians, the latter wearing it on the left side and inclined. They are four types: jamhak, jhambwah, bank, and narsingh moth. All four of these weapons seem of the same class as the khanjar, though varying slightly in form. Dagger Mainly used by Turks, occasionally by both Persians and Indians
Bichuwa and Khapwah. One type of knife. The bichuwa, literally "scorpion", had a wavy blade. The khapwah must have been some sort of dagger. It is almost identical with the jambwah. Dagger Marathas
Peshqabz A pointed one-edged dagger having generally a thick straight back to the blade and a straight handle without a guard, though at times the blade was curved, or even double-curved. Some of the hilts have guards. Dagger
Kard This was like a butcher's knife and kept in a sheath. It was especially the weapon of the Afghan. They had a total length of 2 feet 6 inches, and that of the blade alone 2 feet. The gupti-kard is inserted in a stick. The qamchi-kard is a whip-shaped knife. Chaqu is a clasp-knife. Combat knife Mainly used by Afghans
Sailabah-i-Qalmaqi The name for the knife used by men from Kashghar. It was as long as a sword and had a handle made of fish-bone called sher-mahi (lion-fish). It was worn slung from a shoulder belt, the ashob. Combat Knife Used by the men from Kashghar


The three kinds of missile weapons were bows and arrows, matchlocks, pistols. The cavalry were known to be mainly equipped with the bow and the Mughal horsemen were famed for their archery. It was feigned that the bow and arrow were brought down straight from Heaven and given to Adam by the archangel Gabriel. Weapons were ranked in the following order: the dagger, the sword, the spear and the highest was the bow and arrow.

The use of the bow persisted throughout the 18th century, despite fire-arms having become more common, better made, and their handling better understood. They were also widely used by the rebels in the Indian rebellion of 1857.

The matchlock, a cumbrous and probably ineffective weapon, was left mainly to the infantry. Pistols seem to have been rareties.


Moghul bowmen were considered to be especially expert in the use of their weapons. A horseman could shoot six times before a musketeer could fire twice. Archers were called Tir-andaz (literally, arrow-throwers).

The normal mughal bow was called a kaman. It was about 4 feet long, and generally shaped in a double curve. The bow was of horn, wood, bambu, ivory, and sometimes of steel. Two of these steel bows, in the Emperor of Russia's collection at Zarkoe Selo, belonged to the emperor Bahadur Shah I (1708—1712). They bear verses in his honour and are covered with rich gold damascened work. The grip was generally covered with velvet. there can be little doubt about the design of the bows used in India, for they copied Persian models, and in fact many of the principal officers were themselves Persians.

The concave side of the bow (the convex when strung) was lined with several strings of thick catgut to give it elasticity and force. The belly was made of buffalo or wild goats' horn, jet black and of a fine polish. Glued to this was a thin slip of hard, tough wood. The ends were fashioned to represent snakes' heads. The horn was left plain, while the wooden back was decorated with rich arabesques of birds, flowers or fruit intermingled with gilding. Indian bows were also kept for show or amusement, and were also carried by travellers. They were of buffalo horn in two pieces curved exactly alike, each having a wooden tip for receipt of the string. Their other ends were brought together and fastened to a strong piece of wood that served as a centre and was gripped by the left hand. After being neatly fitted, they were covered with a size made of animal fibres, after which very fine tow was wrapped around them, laid on thin and smooth. They were then painted and varnished.

  • The notch - The end notches into which the string was fixed were called goshah, literally "corner,".
  • The string - This was called either zih or chillah. A sinew was used as a bow-string, panach or panchak. Bow strings were made of strong threads of white silk laid together until of the thickness of a goose quill. Whipping of the same material was then bound firmly round for a length of three or four inches at the centre, and to this middle piece large loops of scarlet or other colour material were attached by a curious knot. These gaudy loops formed a striking contrast to the white silk.
  • The finger stall - This was called zihgir, bow-string holder. The bowman drew with his thumb only, the bent forefinger being merely pressed on one side of the arrow nock to secure it from falling. The forefinger was pressed on the nail of the thumb to strengthen the pull without increasing the exertion. The zihgir had been invented to prevent the flesh being torn by the bow string . It was a broad ring, and according to a man's rank and means was of precious stone, crystal, jade, ivory, horn, fishbone, gold or iron. A very valuable zihgir was part of the Labor booty. Sometimes two thimbles were worn instead of a zihgir on the first and second fingers of the right hand. Upon the inside of this ring (the zihgir), which projected half an inch, the string rested when the bow was drawn. On the outside the ring was only half the breadth, and in loosing the arrow the archer straightened his thumb, which set the arrow free. Using the ring the distance to which an arrow could be shot was increased. But its use required skill and practice. The Hindus used instead a thumbstall of leather. These rings with a spare string were usually carried in a small box suspended at the man's side.

Special bows

Name of Bow Description Type Usage Material
Charkh Charkh has many meanings: among them being "a wheel," "a cart," "a crossbow." So a charkh is a crossbow. The Charkh-i-bakhshi is the leader of the cacharkh men. Cross bow Used by charkh men
Takhsh kaman This is a small bow.
Kaman-i-gurohah A pellet-bow, identical with the modern gulel, wused by boys to scare birds from ripening crops.
Gobhan This is a sling. Such slings were brought by the villagers who assembled in 1710 to aid in the defence of Jalalabad town against the Sikhs led by Bandah. Sling Mainly used by villagers
Kamthah, kamanth The long bow of the Bhils.The Bhils held the bow by the foot, drawing the string (chillah) with the hand and shooting so strongly that their arrows could penetrate an elephant's hide. The principal weapon of the Bhils was the kampti or bamboo bow, with a string made of a thin strip of the elastic bark of the bamboo. In their quiver were sixty barbed arrows each a yard long, those intended for striking fish having heads which came off the shaft on striking the fish. A long line connected this head and the shaft, so that the shaft remained on the water by way of a float. Long Bow Bhils Bamboo
Nawak A pipe through which an arrow was shot. This was either a cross-bow, or formed in some way as part of an ordinary bow. It was not a blow-pipe like those used by the Malays for their poisoned arrows. Specimens of the pipe are 6 feet 6 inches to 7 feet 6 inches long, and the arrows used with them are 12 inches long. The nawak is used for shooting birds. Cross bow or pipe Shooting birds
Tufak-i-dahan A blow-pipe used as a tube for shooting clay balls by force of the breath. Blow pipe Shooting clay balls Pipe
  • Arrows - The arrow is called a tir. There were two kinds of arrow shafts, the common kind was made of reeds, and those used against tigers were made of wood. To the first kind the heads were attached by resin. In the second kind, a hole was bored and a red-hot head was forced into it. Some arrows in the India Museum are 2 feet 4 inches long. One, obtained at Luknow in 1857, was long as 6 feet and must have been used with a large bow. The names of the parts of an arrow were for the shaft, kilk (lit. reed) - for the head, sari, - for the feathers paikan. The feathers were frequently black and white mixed (ablaq). Ordinarily, the head was of steel, but the Bhils used arrowheads of bone.
  • The name for an arrow without a head was takah or tukkah. This is an arrow without a point, but with a knot at the end. Different kinds of arrows were found in India. They may be broad-headed or headless. Their heads were sometimes bent, shaped like a saddle-maker's needle. Very broad arrow heads were in use in the west of Bengal, towards Bihar. There was one of crescent shape more than four inches across at the barbs. Though they did not penetrate easily, yet when they happened to graze a limb, they cut desperately. When discharged among bodies of troops they were found to do amazing mischief. They may be broad-headed, two pointed or barbed, with a full moon or circular head, a crescent shaped head, or an almond-shaped, trident-shaped or thorn-shaped head. The practicing arrows for this exercise have a round iron part, about four fingers long, of the size of the reed until near the point, where they are somewhat thicker, from which part they taper gradually to a sharp point. The length from the thickest part to the point is from a quarter to one inch.
  • Symbolic use of arrows - Pagan Arabs used arrows in a game of chance. Divining by arrows was forbidden by Muhammad. They may have been unfeathered, unpointed arrows. The practice, however, survived in spite of the prohibition and in 1544 we find Humayun getting into trouble with Shah Tahmasp on this account. He marked twelve of his best arrows with his own, and eleven inferior ones with Tahmasp's name, Erskine. Shooting an arrow into the air is said by Portuguese writers to have been a recognized mode of declaring war in the Vijyanagar state and Malabar. The particular instance is of 1537 at Diu, where Bahadur of Gujarat ordered an arrow to be shot into the air as a declaration of war. The gift of an arrow from the king's quiver was a security for peace. The king's quiver was also used as a symbol of authority. The Humayun in 1537 released Bahadur Shah's minstrel, and bound his own quiver round the man's loins. Clothed with this authority, every prisoner that the minstrel claimed as his relation was released.
  • Quiver - The Persian name is tarkash. It was generally a flat case, broad at the mouth, one side straight and the other sloping to a point, provided with a strap for carrying over the shoulder. This broad shape is apparently due to the fact that the quiver was used to hold the bow as well as the arrows. There must have been, however, a separate bow-cases, the qirhan, for these are named as well as the tarkash, or quiver. Of these one is of an unusual shape, namely, cylindrical. Common quivers were covered with leather, more costly ones with blue or red velvet, and these were often embroidered on one side in gold or silver. These covers sometimes were applied to strange uses. One of a slightly different quiver shape is the same width all the way down, having one side straight and the other shaped in two crescent-like curves.
  • Godhu - This leather guard was worn on the left arm, i.e., if the shooter were not in armour, and thus already provided with a mailed glove and steel arm-piece. It was a quilted half sleeve of common velvet or fine cloth that protected the arm from being bruised by the chord during its return.
  • Paikan-kash - The implement was shaped like a pair of pliers and, as its name implies, was used to extract arrow heads from the body. The tirbardar was another instrument for the same purpose.
  • Target - To secure a more perfect use of the bow and arrow it was usual to erect near an officer's tents a mound of earth into which he or his men shot a certain number of arrows every day. It was a practice of the Rajputs, but its use was general and not by any means confined to them. In a general sense the word for a butt or target, or the object aimed at, was hadaf.
  • Modes of shooting - There were twelve maxims to be obeyed. Of these three required firmness: (1) the grip of the bow held tight, (2) the forefinger kept firm, (3) the advanced foot kept firm when the arrow is let fly. Three things required easiness: (1) the left side should be kept easy (2) the left foot the same, and (3) also the other fingers. Three things required straightness: (1) the body should be erect (2) the forehead held up (3) the elbow straight. Three other things had to be observed: (1) use of one side, (2) use of one eye, (3) both hands kept in one direction. An arrow could have seven faults: (1) too wide a notch, (2) the shaft to be karm, (3) the head imperfect, (4) the head too heavy, (5) the top end and butt of the shaft hollow, (6) the shaft not straight, (7) the bow too stiff. In shooting at a horseman 200 yards off, the aim should be at his cap, if 100 paces off, at his mouth, if 50 paces, at his saddle. By so doing he would be hit in the chest. A good archer needs to practise constantly with the lezam, a bow with an iron chain instead of a string. There are three ways of gripping the bow, Changal-i-baz (literally, "Hawk's claw"), muharraf (diagonally, on the slant), marabba (square), according to the length of the shooter's fingers. The arrow should be held without moving, and the advanced foot kept flat on the ground.
  • The bow was strung by placing one end under the thigh, and with both hands bringing the other end into due position, when the string was easily slipped into the groove made for it. Thirty inches of string was a common length, though some were longer. With a new bow it required a strong hand to bring the arrow up to its head. The left hand was placed opposite the right breast, just far enough from the body to allow clear action. The butt of the arrow was pressed to the string, the fore and middle fingers of the right hand were then drawn steadily until the head was near the forefinger of the left hand. The bow was always held perpendicularly. Native archers rarely missed an object the size of a teacup at sixty or seventy yards. The hill people of Bengal were also very expert with the bow. They would lie on their back, steadying the bow with their feet horizontally, and at a distance of two or three hundred yards send the arrow through a common water pot not more than a foot in diameter. They could shoot kites flying, And indeed rarely missed their object.

This was the tufang. Akbar introduced many improvements in the manufacture of the matchlock. Nevertheless, up to the middle of the 18th century the weapon was looked on with less favour than the bow and arrow. The matchlock was left chiefly to the infantry, who occupied a much inferior position to that of the cavalry in the opinion of Moghul commanders. It was not until the middle of the 18th century, when the way had been shown by the French and the English, that efforts were made to improve the arms and discipline of the foot soldier.

The barrels of Akbar's matchlocks were of two lengths, 66 inches and 41 inches. They were made of rolled strips of steel with the two edges welded together. In the Deccan the introduction of the flint-lock weapon, owing to intercourse with the French and English, may have been somewhat earlier. At any rate, it is said that the 12 battalions of Gardi or infantry drilled and armed in imitation of the French sepoys, and commanded by Ibrahim Khan, Gardi, at the battle of Panipat in January 1761, carried flint-lock muskets.

The matchlock barrels were covered with elaborate damascened work, and the stocks were adorned with embossed metal work or with various designs either in lacquer, or painting, or inlays of different materials. The stocks were at times adorned with embossed and engraved mounts in gold, or the butt had an ivory or ebony cap. The barrel was generally attached to the stock by broad bands of metal or by wire of steel, brass, silver or gold. The broad bands were sometimes of perforated design and chased. The stocks were of two designs, 1) narrow, slightly sloped, of the same width throughout, or 2) strongly curved and very narrow at the grip, expanding to some breadth at the butt. When not in use, matchlocks were kept and carried about in covers made of scarlet or green broadcloth.

  • Parah - The hammer of the matchlock.
  • The match- The name in Persian was either jamagi or fahtah. The match was ready and lighted.
  • Powder horn et cetera - These accoutrements were collectively called kamr. The set consisted of a powder flask, bullet pouches, priming horn (singra), matchcord, flint and steel, the whole attached to a belt. This belt was often of velvet embroidered in gold. The receptacles which contained their powder and ball were unwieldy, and as they never made use of cartridges for their pieces, they were a long time in loading. Some of them have at least twenty yards of match about their person, similar in appearance to a large ball of pack-thread.
  • Blank cartridge - khali-goli used for blank cartridge.
  • Cailletoque - A strange very long and heavy matchlock. This musket is often carried under the arm!
  • Jazail or Jazair - A wall-piece or swivel gun and it is doubtful whether it should come here, under firearms carried by combatants, or rather under artillery. In some respects it partook of the character of both. The usual length of jazails was 7 to 8 feet. This was a long matchlock, of various calibres, used as wall-pieces by the natives of India, commonly fixed like swivels, and carry iron balls not exceeding a pound in weight. In the field, they were sometimes carried on the backs of camels. The ball of the Indian jazail weighed two or more ounces. Jinjalls, or heavy matchlocks were commonly used for the defence of forts. They carried a ball from one to three ounces in weight. They had very substantial barrels, were too heavy to use without a break. Many had an iron prong of about a foot in length, fixed on a pivot not far from the nozzle. Placed on a wall, a bush, or the ground, this served as a support. In the defence of mud forts, especially in Bundelkhand, the besieged exhibited extraordinary dexterity, rarely failing to hit their object either in the head or near the heart, even at great distances. All firearms used by Indians had small cylindrical chambers, and being mostly of a small bore, considerable impetus was imparted to the ball.
  • Ghor-dahan was a kind of jazail. The allusion in the name seems to be to the everted or widened mouth of the barrel.
  • Qidr - This may be a cauldron, pot, kettle.

This weapon was the tamanchah. The pistol was in use in India, to some extent at any rate, early in the 18th century. For instance, it was with a shot from a pistol that in October 1720 a young Sayyad, related to Husain Ali Khan, killed that nobleman's assassin. The pistol was confined to the higher ranks of the nobles, very few soldiers having European pistols and tabanchah.

  • Sherbachah - This musketoon or blunderbuss seems to have been of a still later introduction than the pistol. Probably the weapon came into India with Nadir Shah's army (1738) or that of Ahmad Shah, Abdali, (1748—1761). In the last quarter of the 18th century there was a regiment of Persian horse in the Luknow service known as the Sher-bachah. Possibly they took their name from this weapon, with which they may have been armed. Or the name may have been due to their supposed ferocity and thirst for their enemies' blood.


 This article incorporates text from The army of the Indian Moghuls: its organization and administration, by Irvine, William, a publication from 1903 now in the public domain in the United States.

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