Wootz Tanjore Katar
Region: South-India (probably Tanjore), Vijanagara Empire
Period: 17th/18th century
Materials: Steel, Iron, Silver
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 till 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 pierced iron bars, attached through a double grip, chiseled in floral lotus pattern with a bulbous centre. Two langets are attached to the bolster and show a pierced and chiseled decoration of ‘Yali’ heads on the sides. The ‘Yali’ is a mythical creature often depicted on South Indian arms. The entire exterior is decorated with a pearl rim and a pierced design with remains of silver sheet plating.
Made of very fine Indian wootz steel, double edged and slightly curved. The central ridge slightly tapers and ends in a reinforced tip. The blade is riveted to the hilt, a common South-Indian feature.
Condition: Very good condition, the silver plating has been worn off and the blade had suffered some mild pitting. Further in good condition overall.
Hilt length: 23cm
Blade length: 16.5cm
Blade spine thickness: 5mm
Total length: 42.3cm
Provenance: A Belgian collection
– The Metropolitan Museum of Arts New York acc.nr. 36.25.911
– Robert Elgood, Hindu Arms and Rituals
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