Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ancient weapons of South India

Human beings have probably always killed each other. Early people used clubs, axes and spears. They also used bows and arrows. (Cave paintings from Spain dating from 10,000 to 5,000 BC show men fighting with bows).


A wooden club is a surprisingly effective weapon. As early as 6,000 BC African cave paintings show people armed with clubs. Much later wooden clubs were still used in Africa and the Pacific. Early axes were made of wood and stone. (Like the tomahawk of the Native Americans). However the sword was not a practical weapon until people had become skilled in making things from metal.

Valari (throwing stick)

A valari  or valai tadi is a throwing stick used primarily by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka. Valari were used in war, fighting, and hunting. It was the favorite weapon of choice in a deer hunt.


Kattari (first blade)

The katar or katara is a type of push dagger from South Asia. The weapon is characterised by its H-shaped horizontal hand grip which results in the blade sitting above the user's knuckles. Unique to South Asia, it is the most famous and characteristic of Indian daggers. Ceremonial katar were also used in worship.



The gada  is a blunt mace or club from India. Made either of wood or metal, it consists essentially of a spherical head mounted on a shaft, with a spike on the top. Outside India, the gada was also adopted in Southeast Asia, where it is still used in silat.


The gada is the main weapon of the Hindu god Hanuman, an avatara of Shiva. As the god of strength, Hanuman is traditionally worshipped by wrestlers in South and Southeast Asia. Vishnu, one of the deities making up the Hindu trimurti, also carries a gada in one of his four hands. In the Mahabharata epic, the fighters Bhima, Duryodhana, Jarasandha, Balarama and others were said to be masters of the gada.




The trishula is a type of South Asian trident also found in Southeast Asia. It is commonly used as a Hindu-Buddhist religious symbol. The word means "three spear" in Sanskrit and Pali. In India and Thailand, the term often refers to a short-handled weapon which may be mounted on a danda or staff. But unlike the Okinawan sai, the trishula is often bladed. In Malay, trisula usually refers specifically to a long-handled trident while the diminutive version is known as a tekpi.


Thirupatchi copy 

An aruval usually measures 3-6 feet in length.The blade of this weapon originates at the grip and extends to the main part of the blade. You can describe it as a sickle with an extension. You can also think of it as a Sword with a reverse curve. The shorter versions were handy for breaking apart coconuts, and the longer versions were more like Battle Weapons. The shorter version is usually seen in small villages.Blades are mostly straight with a curve towards the end, allowing it to function as a grabbing tool. The straight portion of the blade is also used for cutting, like a standard knife.


The maduvu , also known as a maru or madu, is a weapon from India. Most commonly called maru, it is also referred to as maan kombu after the deer horns from which it is made. The weapon typically consists of two blackbuck horns pointing in opposite directions connected by two crossbars which also act as a handle. Later variations were often tipped with steel and sometimes fitted with a plate of leather or steel to act as a shield. In the Panjab, the maru was typically constructed entirely of steel.


The maru originated among the Dravidians of south India and was favoured by the Bhil people. A similar weapon, consisting of a handle mounted on an antelope horn, was used as a crutch and served as a self-defense implement for the jogi who were forbidden by their order to carry conventional weaponry.The maru is a primarily defensive weapon favouring a low stance, in which the wielder strives to stay lower than the opponent thereby reducing any openings to the body's vital points. Typically, the maru-wielder will block or parry attacks before countering with a thrust, choke, lock or disarm. Offensively the maru is treated similarly to a dagger, used for stabbing.


The urumi is a longsword with a flexible whip-like blade from India. Originating in the country's southern states, it is thought to have existed as far back as the Maurya dynasty. The urumi is considered one of the most difficult weapons to master due to the risk of injuring oneself. It is treated as a steel whip, and therefore requires prior knowledge of that weapon. For this reason, the urumi is always taught last in the martial arts.


The word urumi is of north Keralan origin. In the state's southern region it is more commonly called a chuttuval, from the words for coiling or spinning (chuttu) and sword (vaal). Alternative Tamil names for the weapon are surul val (curling sword) and surul katti (curling knife).



Silambam is a weapon-based Indian martial art from Tamil Nadu, but also traditionally practised by the Tamil community of Sri Lanka and Malaysia. It is closely related to Keralan kalaripayat and Sri Lankan angampora.


The term silambam derives from the Tamil word silam meaning "hill" and the Kannada word bambu from which the English "bamboo" originates. The term silambambu referred to a particular type of bamboo from the Kurinji hills in present-day Kerala. Thus silambam was named after its primary weapon, the bamboo staff. Masters are called asaan (ஆசான்) while grandmasters are addressed as periyasaan. There are numerous styles of silambam such as nagam-16 (cobra-16), kallapathu (thieves ten), kidamuttu (goat head butting), kuravanchi, kalyanavarisai, thulukkanam, etc. The nillaikalakki discipline (from nillai meaning posture and kalakki meaning to disturb or shuffle) is the most widespread style outside India, and is most well known in Malaysia. The styles differ from one another in grip, posture, foot work, length of the stick, etc.Silambam may either be practiced for the purpose of combat (silambam) or purely for demonstration ( azhangara silambam).



A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint, obsidian, iron, steel or bronze. The most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearhead shaped like a triangle, lozenge or leaf. The heads of fishing spears usually feature barbs or serrated edges.


Spears can be divided into two broad categories: those designed for thrusting in melee combat and those designed for throwing (usually referred to as javelins). The spear has been used throughout human history both as a hunting and fishing tool and as a weapon. As a weapon, it may be wielded with either one hand or two. It was used in virtually every conflict up until the modern era and was most likely the most commonly used weapon.


Sword & Shield

I believe we all know how its used and its most used weapon in history of man


Bow and Arrow

The bow and arrow are known to have been invented by the end of the Upper Paleolithic. Projectile points (used on spears or atlatl darts) are known from earlier prehistory, dating to the Middle Paleolithic. Bows eventually replaced spear-throwers as the predominant means for launching sharp projectiles on all continents except Australia.


Archery was an important military and hunting skill before the widespread and efficient use of firearms, throughout classical antiquity and the medieval period. Arrows were especially destructive against unarmoured masses and the use of archers often proved decisive. Mounted archers combined range with speed and mobility. Archery is also featured prominently in the mythologies of many cultures.