Origin: South India (possibly Deccan)
Date: 18th century
Materials: Steel, Wood, Velvet
INTRODUCING SOUTH INDIAN KATARS
South Indian Katars were notorious for having imported European Blades and chiselled hilt designs. The blades were held together with two langets, either side of the blade, often decorated in silver koftgari or etched with floral designs.
SOUTH INDIAN KATAR DESIGN
The side bars are crafted of a chiseled iron with fantastic sculptural qualities. The side bars are large, which provides a protective aspect (to cover the wrist) but also gives the Katar stability and real ‘warrior’ character. Rather than having the typical flat handle bars, the Katar features an open work Jali (net) style handle bars. The open work, Jali (net) style of the handle bars was extremely popular in the 17th/18th century. The style of work, particularly the open work is reminiscent of Deccani Islamic works. So it is fair to attribute the piece to the Mughal or Sultanates of Deccan. Later we see Sikhs go into the Deccan region in the early 1700s and establish a community. The Katars kept in the Hazoor Sahib Thakt (throne of the Sikhs) have open net designs similar to this example. The Katar handles centre feature two bulbous to aid the wielder’s grip as well as to add an aesthetic appeal.
At the base of the blade, there are two langets that cover the beginning portion of the blade. These provide an aesthetic appeal to the Katar, but also a functional purpose of holding the blade firm and tight. These types of langets were a common factor of South Indian Katars. The langets are very nicely chiseled with a floral patterning. The blade is typical of European blades of the period (see comparable examples below). It is very acutely curved without any fullers or grooves. Still, the blade is long and slender, typical of a European blade, and finds itself with a medial ridge, which acts as a 'armour piercing point' capable of piercing armour. The blade seems to be made of a highly tempered steel which is extremely solid and shows great character and age.
The Katar is accompanied with a later wooden scabbard, wrapped in royal blue velvet (slight damage at the tip).
Overall, an original and nice example of a rare type of South Indian 17th/18th century Katar. Made with substance and a confident reliance on the refined geometry, decoration and open/chiseled design of the hilt. The blade is solidly construed of a single form of quality steel, with the design pointing towards the Deccan region and Islamic culture.
For similar types of katar handles, see the examples of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 36.25.911 and 36.25.948. For comparable examples of this type of blade, see the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 36.25.1024 and 36.25.914.