Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Reserved

Coorg people – South West India – 19th century

Materials: Gold, Silver, Steel, Iron, Wood, Glass

Status: Reserved

Description

Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th centuryThe ‘Pinchangatti’ is the iconic knife worn by the Coorg or ‘Kodova‘ man in the Karnataka region in South West India. It was worn in front, tucked in their sash and considered of large importance among their owners. The traditional Kodava people were called Coorg by the British troops which indicates their origin in terms of habitat, since Coorg is a mistranslation of the word ‘Kannada‘, which is their local term for ‘hilly area’.
During the British annexation of the Coorg region, most local weapons were confiscated to avoid an armed rebellion and were dumped into the ocean. Among them were many traditional weapons such as rifles, swords and daggers such as the ‘Pinchangatti‘. This happening mentioned and the fact that these knifes are considered highly important in local culture, makes it rare to encounter a high-end example on todays market.

Kodava man with Pinchangatti knives - 19th century
Kodava man with Pinchangatti knives tucked in their sashes – 19th century. Source: British Library

Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century
The hilt:
Of slender form with a bulbous pommel decorated with gold and gilded silver additions. The pommel has a protruding ornament on both sides and the hilt features three knobs on both sides which are likely to be made of gold. The back of the hilt shows a small square shaped panel which is gilded.
Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th centuryThe blade:
Of traditional form, wide, short and with a clipped tip featuring the outlines of a cleaver or ‘Bowie‘ knife. The blade has a flat spine which ends in a double-edged clip and which is decorated with a continuously ‘eyelash‘ mark which is commonly found in India, copied from earlier Italian renaissance blades. The blade was fitted into a brass ferrule which is attached to the pommel.
Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century

The scabbard:
Consisting of two wooden slabs, held together with silver bands and a silver locket and chape. The scabbard is partially decorated with gilded silver bands and bares a typical sign for the Coorg people; a crossed ‘Aida Katti‘ chopping knife, the sun and the crescent moon. Attached to the scabbards is a thick silver chain which hold a bell shaped finial which is decorated with small silver chains and red glass beads. Usually there is a small chatelaine attached to the same point which holds a small group of personal hygiene implements.
Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century

Conclusion:
A scarce example which is highly sought after among Oriental arms collectors. The fact that most of these knives were confiscated or kept inside the culture makes its appearance on the art market very rare.

Condition: Very good, a small deforming on the locket, some movement on the silver bands and the blade shows traces of use. All together considered in very good condition.

Dimensions:
Hilt: 10.8cm
Blade spine thickness: 3mm
Blade length: 16cm
Scabbard length: 19cm
Total length: 29cm
Weight: 318 grams

Sources: Davinder Reddy’s ‘Arms and Armour of India, Nepal and Sri-Lanka‘ p.340-341.
Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century
Coorg Pinchangatti knife - Kodava people - 19th century

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