Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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francantolin 17th January 2020 06:43 AM

Is it a katar dagger ?
3 Attachment(s)

I hesitate to post it in the miscellanea forum,
do you think it's an old katar weapon or an old tool ( what for ?) ?

Kind regards

ariel 17th January 2020 09:18 AM

This is for Jens.

Kmaddock 17th January 2020 12:21 PM

My observations, and they are not based on anything concrete

To me it looks as if a wooden handle would have gone around the cross bar below the blade.

To use as a weapon though a circular piece of timber would not be the best as the knife would not index very well to know where the point is
and also it could swivel in use, very easily.

blade does look very blade like though

and definitely looks as if it has some good age to it

any back story?


Jens Nordlunde 17th January 2020 02:25 PM

Ariel - thank you for the invitation:-).

Ken, yes I think it could very well be a katar of a very old form. I dont know if you have read my article How Old is the Katar? If not, here it is.
Originally the article was published in Arms & Armour. Vol. 10, no 1, 2013. Royal Armouries, Leeds.

A possible wooden grip, did not have to have been round, it could also have had other forms. See my catalogue pp. 182-183, or if you dont have it you can find some katars with only one cross bar on the MET homepage.

You do, now and again, see katars with only one cross bar, but it is not often, and they are usually quite old.
The missing protection, in this case the missing side guards, is strange, and I cant give you an answer to this, but in the south you sometimes see katars with very short side guards.

francantolin 17th January 2020 08:32 PM


Thank you so much !
Especially Jens for your precious complete file about katars origin !
Really interesting !

No, there was no real back story,
the seller sold it as a really old knife, maybe european ...

I'll post more pictures when I'll receive it

Kind regards

Nihl 17th January 2020 11:01 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I personally would be wary of attributing much age to this piece. Assuming it is even supposed to be some kind of katar, there are fair number of "katars" of similar form - all of which are blatant fakes/crude reproductions - that are currently being sold online.

Attached is one such example.

mariusgmioc 18th January 2020 09:36 AM

Definitely not a katar as it would be impossible to use, thus useless.
This contraption simply cannot be held firmly in the hand.

fernando 18th January 2020 11:15 AM

That this is or not a katar, i wouldn't presume to have the luggage to judge on it but, i wouldn't easily reject that its sole bar doesn't allow for a firm grip, without pondering on its (missing) handle. Think of such being of a (wooden) square cross section ... or ovoid, like the naginata, for one ;).

ariel 18th January 2020 02:02 PM

I also would not dismiss the idea of it being a fighting weapon simply on the basis of a “single bar” argument.
Jens was kind enough to provide a link to his paper. Go there and look at the pics. #205 has a single crossbar and no side bars at all.
Naturally, all old original examples of whatever mechanical creations had engineering imperfections and those were tweaked during subsequent development. Compare nomadic sabers with their barely effectual handguards with the later examples from a multitude of cultures. Pata has retained a single bar but introduced other solutions of the “infirm grip” problem. A similar problem of round Persian Shamshir grips was solved in Georgia by gradual widening of the grip toward the quillon block. Just making the bar flat instead of round would have improved the firmness of the grip.
As they say in Russian, the first blin ( thin pancake) always comes out as a lump:-)

Thus, IMHO, we may be seeing here not just old, but archaic Katar.

Jens Nordlunde 18th January 2020 03:55 PM

The katar shown in the article (no 205) is a drawing I found in Holstein's Contribution a L'etude des Armes Orientales, vol. I, and his reference to Mitra's book made me buy the book, and start to research the katar.

Mitra wrote the book in 1875, so he had to make a drawing. I knew where the temple in Orissa was, and tried to make a photographer take a picture of the statue, but unfortunately he could not find it. Later I found a picture of the statue in a book on Hindu Temples of Orissa, vol III.
In Art and Culture 1300-1900 Stuart Cary Welsh wrote, that the katar originally came from South India, but unfortunately he did not write why he thought so.

There were katars made with only on cross bar, and not only from the 10th and 11th century, but also later. Some had side bars and some a plate in front of the hand, but they are not often seen.

francantolin 24th January 2020 05:46 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Hello everybody,

I finally received it !!
don't really know what to think about it,
seems old iron-steel ( really old !?!)

the top looks like a real old heavy spear ( total weight 850gr )
but don't sure it's an old katar:
The handle is really large 11cm
I'm not that big but not small !! (1,85 meter tall ), usually katar handle are pretty small for me, this one is really large !
( maybe for mammoth hunting ...)

francantolin 24th January 2020 05:53 PM

5 Attachment(s)
here some pics of the handle,

Before receiving it, I thought the side bars had been shortened but I don't think so

If it was an old on handle katar dagger , it could have a wood or bone grip like this one I found on internet,
said to be from the 17th century.

What do you think ? -Kind Regards


francantolin 24th January 2020 05:55 PM

And if it's not a dagger/spear,
what could it be used for ??

Thank you !!!

Rich 24th January 2020 06:56 PM

Perhaps a parring dagger, like a Main Gauche ?

mariusgmioc 24th January 2020 08:27 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I suspect this is a very recent fake...

Kmaddock 24th January 2020 08:47 PM

Very interesting.
I wonder might it be for cutting whale blubber or the like?
I like it for the obvious age it displays

ariel 24th January 2020 10:22 PM

Don’t think so. The very size of the whale and the thickness of the blubber required much longer blades. There also was no need in diamond profile and the function was to flense, not to stab.
Blubber knives were used for Samoan Nifo Oti. That’s where we find most of them these days.

francantolin 25th January 2020 05:36 AM

Thank you all !! ,
interesting comment about whale blubber ( I didn't know these kind of knives-tools )
Yes the blade is pretty thick with diamond profile,
made for cut and stab like a spear head, but seems really not easy to use !
not well balanced at all, the tip is heavy.
It could be used making large circles moves / dance ? )
( Maybe an early ritual-votive weapon ? )

francantolin 25th January 2020 09:13 AM

I think now about Kerala god dance
or too kalaripayat ?
So many different weapons used in this martial art,
maybe this one has his place in ? ;)

ariel 25th January 2020 09:40 AM

If its blade looks like a Katar, the handle looks like a Katar, and functionally it can be used like a Katar, why should we think that it is something other than just a Katar? :shrug:

francantolin 25th January 2020 11:05 AM

Amen !

fernando 25th January 2020 11:37 AM

And another Amen ;) .

ariel 25th January 2020 01:22 PM


fernando 25th January 2020 01:47 PM

Originally Posted by ariel

You mean הַלְלוּיָהּ ;).

Richard G 25th January 2020 02:00 PM

Could it be a slaughterer's sticking knife?

Jens Nordlunde 25th January 2020 04:10 PM

Frankie, in many Indian states stories are told about single, 'gigant warriors'.
Like the brother of Maharaja Anup Singh of Bikaner (b. 1638 d. 1698), who had to have weapons made especially to him, as other (normal) weapons were too small. His weapons are said to be on exhibition at the Bikaner Museum.
I dont know if this is the case with your katar, but it is a possibility.

Richard, I dont think a slaughter's sticking knife would have had a diamond shaped blade.

ariel 25th January 2020 04:47 PM


אָמֵן :D

ariel 25th January 2020 04:51 PM

I found a portrait of Anup Singh, but to my disappointment he exhibited no signs of acromegaly/gigantism.

I shall console myself with a thought that his court painters presented him as a handsome chap.

Well, Shivaji, who was very short was depicted as a VERY BIG individual.

Flattery gets you anywhere:-)

fernando 25th January 2020 05:06 PM

Originally Posted by ariel

אָמֵן :D

נכון :cool: .

ariel 25th January 2020 07:50 PM


I had a sadistic impulse to respond in Chinese, but was concerned with the reaction of our moderators.
Oh, what the hell!

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