South Indian Fighting Katar
Origin: India (South India)
Date: 18th century
Materials: Wootz, Steel, Wood and cotton
A substantially large South Indian Wootz fighting Katar with chiselled hilt.
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. This particular hilt is larger than usual and gets wider towards the bottom; giving the Katar a presence and substantial feel.
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 was made locally in India but aimed to replicate European blades of the period (see comparable examples below). It is larger than usual, without any fullers or grooves. Still, the blade is long and slender, typical of European blades. The blade is made of a highly tempered wootz steel which is extremely solid and shows great character and age (minor pitting in some areas). On one side of the blade, there is a European marking (often referred to as a Venetian eyelash' stamp) which was primarily on blades imported from Europe. As the blade is of clear Indian wootz, the maker possibly added this stamp to make it seem as though it was an import to provide more value.
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.
The Katar is accompanied with a wooden scabbard, wrapped in royal blue velvet.
Overall, an original and nice example of a rare type of South Indian 18th century Katar. A true example of a fighting Katar with an usually long and slender blade and finely chiselled hilt.