Arms & Armour
This gallery has on display a fine collection of Indian weapons ranging from the Pre-historic period up to the 19th century C.E. These include, edged weapons, projectiles, smashing weapons, armour for men and animals, ornamental and ritual weapons and fire-arms and war accessories.
Different varieties of bows and arrows- made of cane, bamboo, metal and decorated with ivory, gold and silver are exhibited in the gallery. The inscribed bow of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last ruler of the Mughal dynasty, is also on view.
The history of the Indian sword begins in a very early period as testified by several sculptures, paintings and coins. During the medieval period, there was considerable ingenuity and craftsmanship in manufacturing swords. During the Sultanate and later the Mughal rule, the weapon underwent significant modification, and weapons with Persian, Arab and Turkish influences became commonplace during the period. Examples are the Shamasheer from Persia and the Zulfiqar from Arabia. The enameled sword of Jaipur, the Patta of Marathas, the Khanda of Rajputs, the Dao of Assam and some sacrificial and ceremonial weapons are attractions on display in the gallery. The personal swords of Emperor Aurangzeb, Tipu Sultan, Nana Saheb Peshwa and Hamir Singh are historically important pieces on display.
A variety of daggers, important weapons for self protection and hand to hand combat, were also in the vogue. There were regional variants like the Jamadhar, Jambia and Khanjar of Mughals, the Chura of Afghans, the Khapwa of Rajputs, the Qurauli of Sikhs and the Khukri of Nepalis. Many daggers were adorned with ivory, jade, crystal and soapstone and sometimes embellished with calligraphy.
Shields, helmets, breast, back and foot armour were commonly used in combat for self defence. There are armours for the protection for animals used in battles, some examples of which can be seen in the gallery. During the medieval period, ornamentation of armour, particularly shields, was prevalent. The beautifully inscribed shield of Rana Sangram Singh II and the chest plate inscribed with the verses of the Bhagavata can be seen on display.
Spears have a hoary history, of use in hunting and warfare. Spears and javelins made of a variety of material such as reed, bamboo, wood and metal, used for war and ceremonial purposes can be seen in the gallery. The gallery also displays weapons used by the martial races of India, like the Rajputs, Marathas and Sikhs.
The invention of gunpowder in the early 14th century C.E. opened a new chapter in the history of Indian arms. Babur, the founder of Mughal dynasty in India, used artillery to decisive effect in the Battle of Panipat. During the course of time, shoulder firearms such as matchlocks, flint-locks, and percussion cap muzzle loading guns were developed which could be used by individuals. The gallery has a number of such fire arms on display, as also pistols, revolvers and multi-barreled short arms. A variety of gunpowder flasks are also displayed.