AN INDIAN PUNCH-DAGGER KATAR, AND SCABBARD
Mughal, late 18th century
The hilt decorated with gold inlays, the steel blade inlaid in gold with what appears to be a poem in Urdu, the wooden scabbard overlaid with green velvet and having openwork silver mounts depicting long-tailed birds among leaves.
L. 48.4 cm (dagger)
L. 25.7 cm (scabbard)
The Katar is a dagger only found in India. It consists of two parallel arms extending backwards from the blade, connected by two or more cross pieces which form the grip. The triangular-shaped blade is double-edged, usually thickens at the point and is decorated in the middle on both sides. This one is decorated with gold inlaid Urdu (?) poem.
The Katar is held by the cross grip so the blade is in line with the forearm and is thrust forward, having not only the force of the forearm, as in usual daggers but the whole weight of the body behind it. This makes it a redoubtable weapon and with its thickened point it can even split open the rings of a chain mail. In many Indian miniature paintings from the late 16th century onwards the Katar is shown worn at the waist, emphasising its decorative value as a status symbol as well as its role in weaponry.