SHIKARGAH (HUNTING) KATAR
Place of Origin: Rajasthan, India
Date: Circa 1850
Overall Length: 440mm (17 ¼ Inches)
The present dagger or ‘katar’ is a rare variant of the type thought to have been made in the town of Bundi in Rajasthan.
The hilt is engraved throughout with blossoming lotus flowers and leaved vine tendrils on a punched ground, the gap between the centrally swollen grip-bars then filled with the aforementioned fretwork which conveys a symmetrical array of four-petalled flowerheads set between stylised lotuses in miniature (it is this unique style of fretwork which suggests the dagger originates from Bundi).
A watered steel blade is inserted into the foliate v-shaped knuckle-bar and has been chiselled over the greater part of its sunken surface on one face with an elephant’s head and the goddess Durga sat astride a tiger with Shiva shown running in front with her head turned back. Chiselled over the other face, the ends are similar, though in place of the divine scene a striped tiger is depicted hunting an antelope. The main section of the heavy blade tapers to a heavily reinforced, armour-piercing point.
These religious and shikargah (hunting) scenes set the dagger apart from most others. An essential comparandum, however, is to be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a katar (Accession Number 35.24.912) confirmed to originate from Bundi shows precisely the same decorative arrangement in its fretwork as the present piece.