Place of Origin: Srirangam, Southern India
Date: 17th Century
Overall Length: 480mm (19 Inches)
Katar-daggers of the type to which this example belongs are characterised by their intricately chiselled and pierced decoration.
The ends of the side-bars have each been pierced to depict a prancing yali which twists its body back toward itself: their mouths flare open and their eyes bulge. The hilt’s single grip-bar has then been cut and pierced to convey a symmetrical scheme of two smaller four-petalled flowerheads at either side of a larger example at the heavily swollen centre. Throughout its surface, the hilt still retains some of its original gilded silver sheet.
The forte of the blade has been chiselled and engraved to depict a mirror-image of two bending yali with their backs lined up against each other. The creatures’ scaly crests have been picked out in fine detail and their lower halves curve gently into a blossoming lotus. Recurving blades extend from either side of the centre – likely a 19th century addition. The long central blade, probably of European origin and dating to the 16th or 17th century, then extends and tapers towards the point.
This piece is related to a dagger exhibited by Runjeet Singh in Iconic 2017 (Cat. No. 5). The “moustache” of side-blades is likely a homage to the rare 17th century daggers of this form preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (see, for example, Accession Number 36.25.1028).