Origin: Northern India (Bundi or Bundelkhand)
Date: 18th century
Length: 42cm (Blade: 21cm / Handle bars: 21cm)
Materials: Wootz, steel, wood and cotton
A heavy Rajput fighting Katar with a thick armour piercing tip.
Our particular example is simple, and in this simplicity lies its beauty. It relies purely on perfect geometry and a simple design that works; not needing any decoration as this is a well-executed piece of weaponry.
This Katar has a substantial weight to it and is of large proportions. The weight gives this Katar a very sturdy and strong presence in the hand. With such weight, it assists in armour piercing. The blade has a two deep cut fullers which lead to a swollen, reinforced, armour-piercing tip, designed for the sole purpose of going through chainmail armour. The groves are deliberate and lighten the Katars structure when thrusting, while keeping its rigid and strong essence. The fullers/groves are deep cut, which would allow for blood to drain when the chainmail was pierced. The construct of the Katar is Wootz (often referred to as Fulaad in India) and steel. This is unusuall as the Katar is for the most part steel, but there are various sections throughout that have a substantial Wootz pattern. The sections of Wootz has grains that tight and consistent, providing a uniform and vivid appeal. Usually you would see an entire wootz construct, wootz to cover flaws (so it would only be a single small area) or an all steel construct. But this Katar has Wootz sections in many areas; it is almost a 50/50 wootz to steel ratio, which is something we have not come across before.
In keeping with the blades large and strong proportions, the handles side bars are longer than usual and extend to a length to cover the fist and the wrist to protect from sword attacks. The handle of the katar is fitted with four bars, all of which have their ends protruding from the sides of the long sidebars. These four bars are fitted with purpose, and provide a safe grip, and shows the katar was precisely made for a user with a larger than usual hand as most similar examples of this katar have only two or three bars. Katars with the side protrusions are often catalogued as Rajput and sometimes Punjab, as designs would cross cultures and regions. At the centre of the blade is a stylised representation of the ‘tree of life’ motif which was present in various forms on Northern Indian Arms. This tree represent immortality, but more importantly, the Rajput wish for a glorious and righteous death in battle.
This Katar is accompanied with a new wooden scabbard, covered in a blue cotton fabric with floral and geometric design. The scabbard is period matching to ensure it keeps with the historical narrative of the Katar.
Interestingly, there is a katar of comparable design belonging to the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh (see final image). This Katar of the Guru is housed at Gurdwara Bhata Sahib (Punjab). The comparison of note is the design of the centre of the Katar. The unique pattern of the medial ridge is almost identical as is the overall aesthetic look of the Katar.
There are comparable examples that can be found in J. Nordlunde, A Passion for Indian Arms: A Private Collection, Denmark, 2016, especially catalogue number 46 and 112 which have similar handles. Also see R. Elgood, Rajput Arms & Armour: The Rathores and their Armoury at Jodhpur Fort, Niyogi Books, 2017, p. 678 which shares some Katars of similar hilt design.