Date: 19th century
Length: 103cm (total) - Blade (85cm)
A Bara Jamdadu with a large chiselled hilt.
A rare and interesting example of an early Katar fitted with a very long blade to provide the function of a Pata. Though such type of weapon is referred to as ‘Bara Jamdadu’ by Stone (p.93), both being Indic (Indo-Aryan) words, ‘bara’ being the word for ‘large’ and ‘Jamdadu’ probably a revision of the word ‘Jamdaar’ meaning Demons tooth. This seems to be a hybrid of the katar and the pata. The Pata is seen as a gauntlet sword that is strongly associated with the Marathas who call it dandpatta. The Pata is traditionally large and fitted with imported European blades. They were used both on foot with a shield and from horseback. The Katars were seen as thrusting. Katar's were to used for a thrusting punch, and it could also be used for slashing. This hybrid of the Katar and Pata originated in the 16th century in the Vijaynagara Empire, Southern India, and combined both the practicality of the Pata and the Katar. While protecting the hand, via the hood, and providing a stable grip with the H shape, the blade provided the length for distance attacking.
THE BLADE & HILTThe Katar hilt is typical for its period, consisting of an H shape that extend behind the katar grip. The Katar hilt in fact features the later 18th century design that was becoming more prominent during that period - as there was a slow and gradual move away from large hooded katar style hilts. This one is much slender while still providing versatility and protection. The hand is protected by the recurved hood on top that is also chiselled with floral motifs. This extraordinary katar hood is in the style of a Srirangan katar which are known for its prominent knuckle guards (wide and open). At the end of the hood is a small cobra with a its wide hood blending into the hood of the katar. Islamic Weapons: Maghrib to Moghul by Anthony C Tirri, p312 features a katar with exactly the same hilt, which Tirri dates to the 17/18th century.
European traders came into India around 1500s and 1600s and bought swords and blades with them from Spain, Italy and Germany. The blades slowly became admired in India, so they were fitted onto Indian sword hilts, katars, etc. Though the blades were admired, but not the swords themselves, and were seen as ‘’only fit to cut butter’. Most katars with long blades were fit with long European blades, with this example being similar. The blade features three fullers to the left side of the blade. The blade is strong, sturdy, in great condition and retains a cutting and thrusting edge (which allowed for slashing and thrusting). The Maratha leader Shivaji, was known to have a sword with a blade from Genoa (Italy), which he named the weapon after the goddess Bhavani.
Robert Elgood (in Hindu arms and Ritual, Eburon Publishers, Delft. Pages 145-161) states that various ‘experimental’ types of this weapon were made in the 16th century, with a ‘standard’ version with a cut down blade finding its way into the early 17th century onwards. This Bara Jamdadu we have listed seems to be a ‘re-make’ of the experimental weapon or its earlier predecessor the Vijaynagara Pata, but made no later than the first quarter of the 19th century. This assumption is made based on the quality of the hooded hilt. The standard version was simply made of steel with no chiselled work. This hooded hilt is expertly engraved with floral work for which extra attention to detail is required, along with time. As such, this was only done for Arms and Armour of some importance. The blade is extremely sharp on one edge, to allow for slashing, and sharp at the tip to allow for armour piercing/or thrusting. The finish is to the steel is very fine, giving a mirror like, crystal finish.
This Bara Jamdadu is accompanied with its original wooden sheath that is wrapped in genuine black leather (minor wear due to age).
The only other example of quality we came across was in The Richard R. Wagner Jr Collection (see Arms of the Paladins: The Richard R Wagner Jr. Collection of Fine Eastern Weapons by Oliver S. Pinchot, p70), however the hilt on that example was simple, whereas our example has the hooded feature.
The John Woodman Higgins Armoury Collection features a Bara Jamdadu but with a cut down European blade.
George Cameron Stone’s 'A GLOSSARY OF THE CONSTRUCTION, DECORATION & USE OF ARMS & ARMOR' (p345-348 - images attached for reference) looks at the development of the katar and Pata. There are numerous images of long bladed katars, but all feature the 'rapier' style blade.
Overall, a very rare and early example of an Indian fighting weapon. Kept in great care and condition by its previous owner. A true addition for any Indo-Persian Arms collector, institution or researcher who is interested in the development of the Katar and Pata in India.