Language: Pashto
Origin: George Cameron Stone / Old dictionary

Description

Lohar is a commonly used name for a type of sickle that originates from present-day Afghanistan. More accurate terms are lor (لور) and lawa-āor (لواور ).

The tend to be forged out of one piece and decorated with brass, sometimes also with silver. Handles are usually wood or bone. The decoration typicall only occurs on one side. Folding examples also exist, that fold into pocket-knife size.

 

Lohar

An Afghan sickle
Mandarin Mansion inventory 2021.

 

They are thought to have originated as agricultural tools but also saw use as weapons. Sickles also have a significant ritual function in local culture, being the symbol of the harvest which was performed exclusively by men. It was thought to protect from evil, and sometimes was used to cut a newborns umbilical cord.1 

 

Notes to description
1. Dmitry Miloserdov; "Edged Weapons of Afghanistan: 19th to early 20th century." St. Petersburg, Atlant Press, 2019. Page 407.

 

Mention in stone's glossary

The word lohar first appears in Stone's Glossary, published 1934, and has stuck with collectors since.1

The entry:

"A small pick used in place of a sword by the Banochie, a Khyber tribe. Each man makes his own and decorates the handle with inlays of silver and brass. Each individual has his own patterns which differ from those used by others, though all are similar. Fig. 528."

Lohar in Stone


The Banochi tribe Stone refers to are more accurately written Banuchi today, a Pashtun tribe that inhabit mainly the Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in present-day Afghanistan.

 

Comments on the Stone entry

As Dmitry Miloserdov rightfully points out, it is hard to imagine a tribe where every man is a blacksmith, more so with the skill to overlay iron with brass and silver.2 He is also puzzled about the word lohar, which he thinks may refer to the Hindi word for blacksmith: lohār (लोहार).

While plausible, I went to search in the Pashto language to see what I could find. In Henry George Raverty's dictionary of Pashto of 1867, sickle appears as lor and lawa-āor. Lor literally means "side".3 The exact entries:

"لور lor, s.m. (2nd) A sickle, a scythe. Pl. لرونه larūnah. See لواور"

"لواور lawa-āor, s.m. (2nd) A sickle, a scythe. Pl. لواورونه lawa-āorūnah."

I think what may have sounded like lohar is quite likely one of the above terms. Such mistakes are common, as the written language doesn't write vowels and pronunciations vary by tribe.

 

 

Notes
1. George Cameron Stone; A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times. (Reprint) Jack Brussel, New York, 1961. Page 418-419.
2. Dmitry Miloserdov; "Edged Weapons of Afghanistan: 19th to early 20th century." St. Petersburg, Atlant Press, 2019. Pages 404-411.
3. Henry George Raverty; A dictionary of the Puk'hto, Pus'hto, or language of the Afghans: with remarks on the originality of the language, and its affinity to other oriental tongues. Second edition, with considerable additions. London: Williams and Norgate, 1867.

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