Katar –The Dagger
|From YK’s Collection|
Katar is a dagger with a hilt comprising two parallel bars connected by two or more cross-pieces to provide grip. One of the cross pieces is located at the end of the parallel bars and is fixed to the blade. The rest of the cross pieces are fixed at the center of the parallel bars which serves as the handle. Katar is basically a punching dagger and was mostly used by the Rajput, Sikh and Mughal warriors of India. Katar is a very powerful dagger and can even penetrate through the armor of the enemy.
What is unique about Katar dagger–
Its unique design with thickened tip and powerful central rib to prevent the blade from breaking or bending can pierce the type of armor used by Indian warriors. When Katar is gripped properly in the clenched fist, the blade automatically takes position in line with the fore arm that it thrusts forward giving a straight punch. The entire forearm force is behind the dagger punch along with the weight of the body creating powerful force to attack the opponent. The Katar is more of an offensive type of weapon and has little scope for defense. The opponents attack could be blocked only with the sides of the handle.
The design of Katar dagger-
Katar is purely of Indian design and origin. Katar is a dagger with a hilt comprising two parallel bars connected by two or more cross-pieces to provide grip forming a “H”shaped design.. One of the cross pieces is located at the end of the parallel bars and is fixed to the blade. The rest of the cross pieces are fixed at the center of the parallel bars which serves as the handle for grip.The advantageous aspect of the Katar is its handle with the blade directly in front of the holder’s knuckles which is congenial to give a powerful punch to the enemy. Jamadhar Katars are distinguished with their multiple blades that create psychological impact on the enemy and have additional penetrating power. It is a formidable weapon that can give punching stabs to the enemy with speed and penetrating power. In subsequent modern design of Katar single-shot pistols were incorporated along with the parallel side bars of the handle to give a killing blow to the opponent.
History of Katar dagger–
Katar is derived from the Tamil word kattari the native language of Dravidians from Tamil Nadu,a state in south India.The word Kattari became Kataar in Punjabi and when pronounce by the North Indians it became Katara and subsequently with usage by multi-cultural ethnic groups of north india became Katar. History traces its first use by then flourishing Vijayanagara empire of south India.In 17th century Maratha rulers adopted this design and developed a form of gauntlet sword known or otherwise called Pata. Subsequently when Katar dagger became popular throughout India it acquired a status symbol similar to “Kris” of South east Asia and “Katana “ of Japan. Since short blades are used for making Katar even broken swords are used for making Katar .After colonization of India by Britishers,Ueropean collectors have started collecting Katars for their private collection.
Katar as status symbol-
In the later stages , Katar was used by the Indian nobility as a status symbol. Katar handles are covered with enamel work, silver and gold foils with decorative designs and are exhibited prominently in front or sides of their waist. The nobles of Moghal empire even used Katar dagger to hunt tigers to exhibit their velour and courage by killing a tiger at close range using a hand held dagger.
“Gold ‘katar’ in the figure above is called circa(1970) belongs to Rajputana, it has a Blade of steel with two single barreled flint lock pistols forming the wrist guards. We can see the beauty of kundan work on its grip. It was the personal weapon of Sawai Pratap Singh(Private collection).”
I have collected the Katar dagger shown in the picture above(Yk’s collection) from an antique shop in Mumbai, India. The Katar is made out of iron with a single mould casting. The blade is joined to the handle in a “V” shape to have more of jointing area for maximum strength. The handles are curved as against the traditional parallel handles thus giving the Katar a decorative aspect and protective functionality.