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Old 16th May 2007, 01:28 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default Jamdhar/katar why do we call it a katar?

When reading in Arms and Jewellery of the Indian Mughuls by Abdul Aziz, i found something interesting. He shows a plate from A’in-i-Akbari and gives the names of the weapons shown on the plate, and later in the book he gives a description of the different weapons. There are several funny things here, but what especially caught my attention were two things. In the text below the author accepts what Blochmann choose to call the weapons, not what they wee called on the drawing, although this name, no doubt, was written to the same time the drawing was made – the name on the drawing could of course be wrong, but I find it difficult to believe. One of the other things, which caught my eye were number five and eleven. Number five is what we would call a katar and the Indians a jamdhar, but number eleven is called a katara. The difference is not in the hilt, but in the blade, as the blade of the katara is slimmer and curved, but the blade of the jamdhar is straight. We must remember that in India a ‘katar’ is called by many names, according to the number if blades, curved or straight and so on, so maybe the European who ‘invented’ the name ‘katar’ saw all daggers with the same hilt, as the same kind of weapon – a katar, and not as different daggers like the Indians did; much like we do with the swords – a sword with a tulwar hilt is a tulwar, no matter what the blade looks like.

Could it be, that someone asked an Indian with a curved 'katar' what his dagger was called, and was told it was a katara. Not noticing the curved blade, the someone thought all daggers with such a hilt were called katara.


(1) Shamshir, (2) Khanda, (3-4) Gupti ‘asa and sheath, (5) Jamdhar, (6) Khanjar, (7) Jamkhak (according to Blockmann; name in plate therefore wrong), (8) Bank, (9) Janbwa (name in plate wrong again), (10) Narsingh-moth (so in Blochmann; in plate the name is pesh-qabz), (11) Katara, (12) Kaman (bow), (13) Takhsh-kaman (small bow) and arrow, (14) Tarkash (quiver), (15) Paikan-kash (arrow-drawer).
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