A South Indian Katar
South India, Deccan or Maratha empire – 18th century
Materials: Steel, Silver, Gold, Iron
The ‘katar‘ is a traditional punch dagger which dates from the early 1600’s and is found in India. They descend from the earlier ‘hooded katar‘ or more known as ‘Vijayanagara katar‘ which point to the Vijayanagara empire which dominated the South of India from the 14th til the near mid 17th century. It basically consists of a hilt with two bolsters and two langets to hold grip and to extend the arms, combined with a blade. The ‘katar‘ from Northern India are often decorated in gold overlay and have complicated fullers on the blades which can be of wootz or pattern welded steel. In contrary to these Northern pieces, the Southern ‘katar‘ have riveted blades, sometimes made of cut down European rapiers, or sometimes Indian made copy’s of European blades. The hilts are often plain steel and decorated with chiseling and piercing the hilts. Some Southern ‘katar‘ are decorated with gilded silver sheet plating such as on our example listed here.
Consisting of two straight bars held together with two bolsters of which the intermediate balls can individually move. A thick spherical guard with two langets to where the blade was riveted, to good South Indian practice.
The bolsters are fluted and show a chiseled decoration of floral patterns. The side bars are long stretched and widen towards the ends. They are decorated with panels on both the in- and outside. The corners of the guard are decorated with a chiseled floral pattern. The entire hilt is decorated with a thick gilded silver-plating.
As mentioned earlier, riveted to the langets as is commonly seen in Southern India. The blade is straight, double edged and tends to be a little thicker near the tip. Usually tips were made thicker to pierce through chainmail or armour plates. The blade seems to be made in India, in fashion to European blades, it was pattern welded and shows no signs of being cut off.
A fine heavy example with aesthetically pleasing details. The thick bolster grip is a typical feature for ‘katar‘ from the 17th and 18th century. The chiseling and gilding proves to be of high quality and still quite crisp, which is rarely seen on pieces from this period. The decoration and style in general points us toward the Deccan plateau.
Condition: Very good condition, the hilt shows traces of oxidation and have some loss of the silver gilded finish. Gilding is worn on most places, but is still visible. No active rust or oxidation and the blade is in excellent condition.
Hilt length: 24.6cm
Hilt width: 9.3cm
Blade length: 34cm
Total length: 50.3cm
– Metropolitan Museum of Arts New York, attributed to Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu acc.nr. 36.25.907
– Metropolitan Museum of Arts New York, acc.nr. 36.25.948
– Metropolitan Museum of Arts New York, acc.nr. 36.25.938
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