‘Hindu Deity’ Katar
Origin: North India
Date: Early 19th century
Materials: Gold, Steel, Wootz, Wood and Velvet
A fine and heavy Indian katar with substantial armor piercing blade and gold koftgari.
The Katar is one of India’s oldest weapons, characterised by its H shape grip and triangular blade. The Katar was predominantly used as a thrusting dagger due to its design – similar to the boxing method – the user would punch with the dagger in the hand with the aim of piercing chain mail and the opponent. Due to the build of the Katar, with its H shaped grip, the Katar also provided a great defence as the handle bars protected the wrist from getting cut. Katars could also be paired with other weapons, such as a Kard or Pesh Kabz and utilised for slashing; as many of them hard sharp edges. From becoming a predominantly functional weapon, during the Mughal reign of India (from the 1500s onwards), we see many Katars find ceremonial use and began to be decorated in gold and silver. These were often used as gifts or for worship. The Katar has been part of the formal dress of Indian and Mughal royalty for centuries.
This is a fine katar of elegant construction. The Katar is crafted with a certain elegance and precision that is felt in hand and indicates to us that it was made for Darbari (courtier) purposes. The Katar was almost always worn by Royals in their waist band - and this is one of them. The blade features serveral deep grooves (sunken panels) with higher ridges separating each of them. These groves are known as "blood grooves" and lighten a blade while keeping it rigid. At the centre of the sunken panels is a clear wootz pattern with tight swirls, whereas the rest of the blade has a mirror finish. In India, shiny chrome-like finishes were rarely seen as mirrors were terribly expensive. Most would have steel or Wootz. Therefore a mirror-finished blade provided something very different and unique. The blade also has some gold koftgari in the form of flowers which is reminiscent of North Indian work in the late 18th century and going into the very early 19th century. The blade is large and of substantial construction - larger than usual.
The handle consists of three bars, their ends protruding from the sides of the two long, thick steel sidebars. The Katar is decorated with Gold Koftgari along the handle bars. This koftgari is very unique and sets it apart from the rest of the katars. The gold koftgari is done in two different types of designs. The design is similar to one another but done in a varying size. This koftgari is 80% in tact. At the end of the Handle Bars, in gold koftgari, on one side there is Durga - depicted with her sword and lion. On the other side is Shiva. Both the Hindu deities are done in exceptional detail in a small section, which would require fine craftsmanship and would have been very time consuming for the artisan. But the end product is of real value. The inside of the handle carries signs of an inscription but it is no longer readable as it is for the most part lost due to age.
The katar is accompanied with its original scabbard - covered with red velvet.
Overall, a very regal and fine quality Katar, clearly intended to be worn in the Darbar (court) of Royals, with very practical features. Distinguishing it from katars that were only court wear.