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Date: 19th Century

Overall Length: 380mm (15 Inches)

Reference: 340

Status: Sold

Full Description:

This dagger – with generously applied gold koftgari work, a complete set of tools and a fine wootz blade – represents an excellent example of the katar weapon-type. The side-bars are decorated with sequences of eight-petalled flowers set within curved panels, whilst the two grip-bars of the hilt – attached together at their swollen centres and enclosing symmetrical ‘C’-shaped scrolls – are decorated with central flowers and scrolling foliage.

Two broad sunken fullers exhibit the dagger’s whorls of wootz steel, the blade unusually pierced along its medial ridge with a sequence of nine rectangular slots containing metal spheres in a feature referred to as ‘tears of the wounded’. This ends where the fullers taper to merge into the blade’s heavily reinforced armour-piercing tip, which has been burnished bright.

The scabbard, made of pattern-welded steel, has a frontal compartment fitted with a gilt latticework arrangement of six-petalled flowers set within curving panels, a motif repeated at the scabbard’s chape and reminiscent of that on the hilt’s side-bars. An inscription runs along the thin bar which is partially concealed by the floral panel, and identifies the katar as being from Udaipur, Mewar with the Hindu date of Vikram Samvat (V.S.) 185* the last number being illegible. V.S. 1850s would convert to early 1800s A.D.

Placed within the frontal compartment are five tools: the first three in steel include an ear spoon, a pair of tweezers and a short knife decorated over the surface of their handles in gold koftgari with floral and foliate patterns, the fourth and fifth tools then being an ivory spatula and a pair of iron tweezers, their handles cut to depict the outlines of stylised flowerheads. The katar is complete with a brown leather belt and chiselled gilt starburst buckle symbolising Surya, the sun god, the Royal insignia of the Mewar court.

Katars complete with tools are rare, though another was published in Arms & Armour from the East (Catalogue No. 3).[1] It also shows the ‘C’-shaped scrolls that separate the present example’s side-bars, a feature which is further observed in a dagger recorded by Robert Elgood and made in Jaipur for Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh (1778-1803).[2]


Private European collection

[1] Runjeet Singh, Arms & Armour from the East 2016, pp. 12-16, Cat. No. 3.

[2] Robert Elgood, Arms & Armour at the Jaipur Court: The Royal Collection, Niyogi Books, 2015, p. 92, No. 67.


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