Origin: India (Jaipur or Delhi)
Date: Late 18th century/early 19th century
Materials: Gold, Steel, Wootz, Wood, brass and Velvet
A Large Mughal Wootz Katar.
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 substantial weight and size. Our Katar is much larger than most but its not heavy. It has a very even and light weight feel which feels very comfortable in the hand. The Katar is constructed of steel with the central part crafted of beautiful wootz. The pattern is excellent with prominent swirls throughout. The dark colour of the wootz is a great contrast to the outer steel construct. The clear and crisp lines are fine and sharp which makes the wootz centre and outer exterior very profound in appearance. A ribbed section is present towards the armour piercing tip which provides more stability to the steel. The steel hilt features dished side bars and is decorated with gold Koftgari overlay in floral design.
Inside the handlebars there are also ‘magical symbols’ which are believed to contain powers of healing, knowledge, etc (see the article at The Met Museum for a brief overview). This makes the dagger inscription very talismanic and these symbols were located in specific places so the owner could touch or see them for ‘good luck’ in battle. Some of the magical symbols used on this dagger seem to be:,
و ه ١١١م١١١١ and رموز
Accompanying the Katar is the original wooden scabbard wrapped in green velvet with red highlights. It shows beautiful age and fits the katar perfectly. A great addition to an already spectacular Katar.
Overall, this is a very substantial Katar of great quality. The talismanic inscription is a nice and rare addition to be found on a Katar.