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Ancient Indian Weapons and Warfare2 Gunpowder



Continued from part1



Gunpowder - The agnicurna or gunpowder consisted of 4 to 6 parts of saltpeter, one part of sulphur, and one part of charcoal of arka, sruhi and other trees burnt in a pit and reduced to powder. From the description of the composition of gunpowder, the composition of the Sukraniti can be dated at the pre-Gupta age.

The 'Shukraniti' described how gun powder can be prepared using saltpeter, sulphur and charcoal in different ratios for the use of different, types of guns. Ancient text reveals that gunpowder was known as 'Agnicurna'while guns were called 'Nalastra'. Another such combination of 'Agnicurna' as stated in one of such texts consists of five parts of saltpeter, one part of sulphur and one part of charcoal to be dried in the sun. It is finally grinded into a powder which becomes gun-powder.

Further, 'Shukraniti' also suggested that the 'Nalikas' were of two kinds. These were large and small with the smaller ones being 112.5 cms long, with a stock of tough wood and a barrel of a bamboo with a bore of three-fourth of an inch.The small 'Nalikas' were used by the infantry as well as the cavalry.

The larger 'Nalikas', however, had no wooden stock and were made of steel and other metals and was carried on wheels. The small shot for smaller arms was made of lead or other metals, while the shots for larger guns were made of iron.

For that kind of the gunpowder, four, five or six parts of 'Suvarchi Lavana' or salt peter, one part of sulphur and one part of Charcoal of plant arka (calotropis gigantea linn), Snuhi and other trees burnt in a pit so as to exclude air. This mixture was then soaked in sap of akra and rasuna (garlic), died in Sun and redacted to a coarse powder like granulated sugar.

There were many kinds of 'Agnichurma.' These were composed of varied proportion of charcoal, sulphur, salt peter, regular orpiment, clax of lead, cinnabar, iron fillings, zinc dust, shellac, blue vitriol and resin of pines to name a few. Some even emitted white light like that of moon.

Bow and Arrow: The bow and arrow constituted one of the major weapons which have been referred to in most of the ancient Hindu mythological texts. One feature of this weapon was that it could be handled by all the four classes of warriors. According to H. H. Wilson, "the Hindus cultivated archery most assiduously and were very Parthians in the use of the bow on horse-back."


This site covers all areas for Ancient Indian History for kids. There are several essays to refer to for your school history study. We start off with ancient India timeline, various ancinet empires like the Mauryan empire and the Gupta empire. You will find information about ancient Indian society and culture, rulers, wars, costumes and several such facinating subjects. History of ancient India for kids is quite fascinating and long.