Gold Katar (c1821)
Origin: India (North India)
Date: 18th/19th century
Materials: Steel and Gold
A Large Gold Mughal inspired Katar of exceptional quality with praise to the great goddess Devi.
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.
This style of Katar is attributable to the Rajputs; the warrior caste of India. The overall form is Rajasthani. The style however is inspired by earlier Mughal Katars. The blade has slightly raised edges and five fullers, which lead to a thick swollen armour peircing point. There is a pronounced centre ridge, with a flower etched into the base. The blade is clean and of substantial construction and build. The blade is constructed of wootz steel, with tight swirls visible within the gaps of the fullers. This again, unusual, as this type of katar was usually not wootz. This therefore could be a unique example.
The gold koftgari on the handle bars utilises the typical mughal period floral patterns and is 90% in tact. On the inside of the hilt, there is an inscription, for which some terms are able to be translated. ‘Mata Ji’ is readable, which is most likely an invocation to ‘Devi’, who is often referred to as ‘Mata’ (mother). There is also a set of numbers, ‘1821’ - a date - which converts to ‘1764’ - putting this katar into the 18th century. Though these katars were popular during the 19th century and resemble that style, it would not be out the ordinary to find an earlier example. On the other hand, it could be an inventory marking. On the other side of the katar, the inscription reads ‘Sri Maha Mata Ji Sa[hai]’ - which translates to ‘with the protection of the great goddess’ - referring to Durga. This invocation was usually used as protection for the owner. Following this is a few more words, but these are not readable. It may be the owners name.
A similar example is kept in the Royal Collection: RCIN 11343. This example was Presented to King Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, during his tour of India in 1875-76 by Jaisinhji Bhupatsinhji, Thakur Sahib of Dhrol. The Prince met the ruler of Dhrol, a Princely state in western India, at a formal reception that the Prince held in Bombay, the first stop of his four-month tour of the India.
Overall, this is a very substantial and well-crafted Katar with most of the gold koftgari on the hilt preserved. The blade is also in very good condition.