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Old 27th October 2019, 05:05 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default Cut steel decorations on Indian arms

It s seldom writers comment on the decoration of the Indian weapons, but Hermann Goetz did in his book The Art and Architecture of Bikaner State, p. 125, 1950.
Cut steel decoration was far more popular than most think, and lasted quite long, before inlay and koftgari took over. Here is a quote from Goetz' book.
The katar shown is an example of cut steel decoration. In this case the katar is 17th century, but with a Bikaner dot inscription.
Surat Singhji (r. 1787-1828). Ji is a honorific suffix.
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Old 28th October 2019, 01:46 AM   #2
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It’s a high class one: reserved, elegant and beautiful. Unlike many overdecorated one, it has simple clean lines with limited decorations. And the wootz inner panels are perfect.For some reasons it looks to me like a ballet dancer.

I love it.

A question: I can understand the way S. Indian katars were assembled. But this one puzzles me: how was the blade securely attached to the handle? Was the lower horizontal piece of the handle originally en bloc with the blade?
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Old 28th October 2019, 10:36 AM   #3
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Yes Ariel, the hilt base and the blade is one piece of steel, so the whole katar was made in one piece.
These steel cut pieces are fantastic, and when you think of the tools they had at the time it is even more fantastic.
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Old 28th October 2019, 11:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Yes Ariel, the hilt base and the blade is one piece of steel, so the whole katar was made in one piece.
These steel cut pieces are fantastic, and when you think of the tools they had at the time it is even more fantastic.


The Egyptians built the pyramids with Bronze tools...

If i'm not mistaken only the Southern Tanjore type katars are made of two pieces: a sword blade with 3 rivets to connect with the hilt?
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Old 28th October 2019, 05:19 PM   #5
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Kubur, I know what you mean and agree with you, but I also seem to remember that Robert Elgood - somewhere - mentions that a katar had a blade solded to the hilt. However, a katar with a solded blade, would hardly be a good weapon in a battle - one hard hit with a sword on the side of the katar blade, and the katar blade is likely to have gone.
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Old 29th October 2019, 03:04 AM   #6
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Soldering uses tin or zinc and those are very soft. They are good for repairing houseware or joining wires, but not for much else.

Not being a metallurgist of any sorts, how about brazing? Apparently it provides much stronger bond. In fact, it is a subdivision of soldering, only it uses brass. Brazing was used on bronze Sumerian swords 3000 years BC. I can’t remember where I read that brass and especially silver brazing bond is stronger than the steel parts they are joining.

I have a composite Indian sword with a S.Indian straight blade 14-17 century and a basket hilt 16-18 century joined by extensive brazing. When, - is another question :-), but historically they might have been married 300-400 years ago. And still holding strong:-)
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Old 29th October 2019, 03:12 AM   #7
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Silver solder creates a very strong bond. I've used silver solder many times and it can flow into areas and fill them. Heat is more than lead solder but I believe less than brazing. Difficult to find now since prices have gone up due to silver content.
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Old 29th October 2019, 08:51 AM   #8
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Soldering does not provide enough mechanical strength. While stronger than solder, silver brazing is still not strong enough. But here it can be opened a long discussion about the strength of a joint as it depends on many factors (area of the joint surface, what kind of forces is it subjected to - bending, torsion, shearing, etc.).

Brazing is normally using bronze for filler material and is strong enough to be used for weapons... but it cannot be subjected to strong shocks (smaller shocks and vibrations are jot a problem, but you definitely cannot braze a blade to a hilt and expect it to withstand shocks resulted from real use). I am not aware of brazing being used in any antique weapons production, maybe because of its low resistance to shocks, and in my oppinion all blades that have signs of brazing were subject to later repairs, and are not fit for use anymore.

I suspect that some katars are made through welding, by joinig separate parts when they are in red hot semi-molten state. Then, providing the joined parts are of same material and forging temperature is high enough, the joints would be invisible.

Maybe...

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Old 29th October 2019, 09:54 AM   #9
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My katar has a blade carrier section with a rapier blade tip inserted and riveted. the carrier section was tabbed and inserted into corresponding square holes in the curved crossbar, they appear to have either been shrink fitted and peened or forge welded together. Very hard to see as it has cut steel decorations and cross hatching, but there appear to be 5 tabs you can make out, less noticeable in the photos tho.
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Old 29th October 2019, 02:04 PM   #10
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Like you write soldering cant have been a very good solution, so some other method must have been used.


Kronckew, you have a nice south Indian katar, and maybe the south Indians, now and again, changed the blader of their katars - I dont know.
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Old 31st October 2019, 04:50 AM   #11
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An attractive and quite interesting catter, kronkew! Looks like a recycled European blade, or the tip end thereof? Interesting that laminations are visible which are in keeping with pre-industrial manufacture.
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Old 31st October 2019, 10:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
An attractive and quite interesting catter, kronkew! Looks like a recycled European blade, or the tip end thereof? Interesting that laminations are visible which are in keeping with pre-industrial manufacture.


Yup, I like it a lot, broken off tip of a euro blade I think. the carrier was a bit more decorative once, but is well worn and a bit pitted, but the blade is still tight and functional, wish it were a bit wider tho, can only hold it with 4 fingers.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 05:23 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
wish it were a bit wider tho, can only hold it with 4 fingers.


Southern catter hilts are often a tad cramped, the peoples of the deep south are mostly of Dravidian stock and are of smaller stature than northerners. They sure were great metalworkers, though. Their cut and pierced steel work is tops, as is that from the nearby island of Sri Lanka at the tip of the Subcontinent.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 09:14 AM   #14
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I have the little sister
And here is what i think... (who wants to be a millionaire)
All these katars had originaly 3 rivets but as you said the blade was not securely fitted. So the owners have to do some basic soldering to reinforce the thing.
Most of these katars have the same problem: disgusting and ugly soldering and it cannot be the armorer who did this lovely katar...
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Old 2nd November 2019, 10:23 AM   #15
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The rivets on these katars always seemed to me not very reliable.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 10:57 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahratt
The rivets on these katars always seemed to me not very reliable.


Yet they were used on these and other longer weapons for quite a long time, as were quite short stub tangs on swords, khukuris and daggers held in by a thermoplastic resin. Must have been reliable enough...

In our modern overbuilt throwaway if it breaks - we should have made it thicker/heavier and stringer/harder - world, we forget that it was never like that before, if it came loose, or broke, it was fixed, recycled, hehilted, reshaped, resharpened, rebladed, repurposed, repaired it until there was nothing left.

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Old 3rd November 2019, 10:47 PM   #17
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Just to add to the examples here, one of my katars appears to have had the blade taken off its original hilt and then brazed onto its current one. Also kind of surprised no ones mentioned copper soldering yet. I have a tulwar hilt that appears to have had liberal amounts of copper involved with its construction (most easily seen on the pommel disk - pic included), and actually the same katar that had its blade remounted also has its crossbars copper soldered to the sidebars. I might be remembering this incorrectly, but I'm pretty sure I've also seen a number of examples of bara jamdadus (hooded katars) that have the balls in the middle of the crossbars soldered together with copper.

Edit: Reuploaded the tulwar pic so the soldering is more visible.
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Old 4th November 2019, 12:45 AM   #18
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I have several Indian swords/daggers with riveted blades and the assemblage is very strong and reliable.

Earlier, I have mentioned a composite Indian sword I have: S. Indian blade of a very ancient pattern and a " newer" ( 16-19 cen.) pattern basket handle.
Here we are not talking about a repair of a weak assembly: this is an obvious case of a composite sword.
Blades of that construction had a very short tang and a very tight handle; there was very poor, if any, protection for the hand. Thus, it is not a miracle that the later owner decided to modernize the sword by attaching the blade to a solid basket handle. He retained riveting, but further strengthened the assembly with very extensive brazing. One can see large areas of brazing as well as smaller blisters of brass around the entire connection.

Also interesting, that although Western travelers repeatedly mentioned absence of stabbing function in the old swordplay arsenal of Indian warriors, this one has massive change of geometry of the tip of the blade ( ~ 8" long) resulting in a " zirah bouk" type tip. Old Indians did stab, a stabbed hard.

I am inviting your opinions re. potential dating of the components and the final product.
Thanks.
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Old 4th November 2019, 07:12 AM   #19
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Some notes on Brazing vs. Welding:

https://www.machinedesign.com/faste...g-beats-welding.

Brazing is basically soldering with a copper alloy.
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Old 4th November 2019, 08:55 AM   #20
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Yup. See post #6.
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Old 4th November 2019, 01:53 PM   #21
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I believe there is some ambiguity here when talking about metal working, more specifically about welding and brazing.

Modern welding appeared only by the end of 19th century, with the Industrial Revolution. Nowdays, when talking about welding we normally refer to modern welding.

However, forge welding, wherein the parts to be joined together were heated to red hot in the forge then hammered together, without use of any filler material, was known and used since the Bronze Age. Nowdays, forge welding is commonly referred as simply "forging."

So basically all welded structures made until well into the 19th century were forge welded. And this is the case old the pattern welded blades, and the case of most of the Katars (like for example the the Katar in the original posting) that were made by forge welding together their components and NOT by carving from a single steel block.

Those Katars that were not forge welded, were riveted.

Brazing is a generic term that refers to joining together two metal based components by using a filler metal. Exactly the same is soldering,

The only difference between brazing and soldering is the filler alloy used.
Whereas brazing is done at higher temperatures and accepts a wide variety of filler metals (Copper, Silver, Gold, Nickel, etc. and their alloys like Bronze or Brass), soldering is done at lower temperatures and uses a filler based on Tin (that has a very low melting point).

My two cents...

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Old 4th November 2019, 08:29 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Earlier, I have mentioned a composite Indian sword I have: S. Indian blade of a very ancient pattern and a " newer" ( 16-19 cen.) pattern basket handle.
Here we are not talking about a repair of a weak assembly: this is an obvious case of a composite sword.


Beautiful sword. And it’s precisely said that it is a “composite sword”.
Although, it seems to me that the term "combined sword" definitely sounds better, since this sword is combined from two elements.

And the blade of this "sword" raises a serious question for me ... I very poorly know the ancient Indian swords until the 17th century. And I will be very grateful if they show me an ancient Indian sword with a blade of this shape.
For me, the blade of this sword looks like a huge tip of the Indian spear archaic form.
If Ariel kindly tells us the size of the blade of this "sword" it will undoubtedly be easier to understand whether this is so.

I will be very happy if this is a truly unique sword, and not the dexterous work of antique dealers of the first half of the 20th century ...
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Old 4th November 2019, 10:54 PM   #23
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Ariel's sword is definitely composed of a spear tip and a hilt.

The thick diamond cross-section of the "zirah-bouk" tip makes it only useable for thrusting/stabbing, no cutting capability whatsoever.
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Old 5th November 2019, 01:47 AM   #24
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Marius,
See Rawson’s pics of Madras swords in the V&A museum. Also, chapter 8 in Elgood. They do look “spear-y”, but they are constructed in a manner of Tatar-Circassian sabers: bayonnet-like tip and the rest is for slashing. See Pant, vol.2: there was a special name for such swords in Sanskrit, shulagra, i. e. Spear- pointed sword.

The tip of the blade is sharp on both edges usable for cutting, and below it there is a perfect double-edged blade fully suitable for classical cutting. Tips of the sword blades were not used for real cutting: see Turkish Palas with a sign 8-10” inches off the tip, indicating the desired point of impact.
The blade is almost 27”; I have several Tulwar/pulwars with blades of such length and shorter.

But let’s assume for a moment that you are correct, and the blade is from a spear. Still, it is not a recent marriage: patination is old, including the rivets.


Kronckew is right: weapons were expensive and every usable part was “...fixed, recycled, rehilted, reshaped, resharpened, rebladed, repurposed, repaired ...until there was nothing left.”

I would love it to be like that.

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Old 5th November 2019, 04:30 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
The blade is almost 27”

I would love it to be like that.



Unfortunately, our desires and reality do not always coincide.
It was not by chance that I asked about the size of the blade ... If we look at the spear tip from the site of Artzi Yarom, which I posted in the subject, and read its description, we will see that the dimensions of the spear tip blade coincide perfectly with the blade of Ariel's "unique sword":
http://www.oriental-arms.com/item.php?id=246
"Old rivets" is a very serious argument. That is why I said that this "unique sword" could be assembled in the first half of the 20th century, and not the day before yesterday.

It’s not very correct to link to some books, but do not post illustrations from these books. Perhaps not everyone who reads this topic has the books of Rawson’s, Elgood, and Pant. And these people will not be able to find out that you are a little distorting reality. I have books that you have named. Unfortunately, in none of the books you have mentioned is there an Indian sword with a blade like that on your “unique sword”.

You can continue to fantasize about the "uniqueness" of your "sword". But you can once again analyze provided by information about spear heads from India and remember that in India dealers of antique weapons for the "white sahibs" have been selling "unique rarities" since the end of the 19th century.
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Old 5th November 2019, 10:11 AM   #26
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I agree with Mahrat and Marius, it's a spear.
I agree with Ariel made with two old parts.
I agree with Mahrat probably done during the early to mid 20th c for connoisseurs tourists.
It's very decorative anyway.
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Old 5th November 2019, 11:17 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
I agree with Ariel made with two old parts.


Good for me!
As to when: see my earlier post: “When, - is another question :-), but historically they might have been married 300-400 years ago. And still holding strong:-)”
Thanks Kubur!
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Old 5th November 2019, 11:36 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Good for me!
As to when: see my earlier post: “When, - is another question :-), but historically they might have been married 300-400 years ago. And still holding strong:-)”
Thanks Kubur!


Hi Ariel
If the two pieces are late 18th or early 19th (for the hilt).
It's true that we don't know when they were connected together.
However - and it's just my opinion - (not supported by facts):
the whole piece doesnt look very practical, it's the reason why I think the piece is late 19th or even first part of 20thc.
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Old 5th November 2019, 07:55 PM   #29
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Kubur,
So many Indian weapons do not look "practical" to us: pata, aradam/arapusta, bank, all those snake-like swords, supermassive teghas, old South Indian swords ( see Rawson), Nayar swords etc, etc.
This one, in comparison to many of them, looks eminently practical: it can stab easily and slash without problems. Moreover, switching fro the original " old Indian" handle to the " basket" one provided good hand protection. The length of the blade is entirely within the range of the " very practical" tulwars/pulwars. So, we just cannot exclude the possibility that it was created with a perfectly fighting purpose in mind. Or, if we are " criticisers", that it is a souvenir one. Go figure...
On top of that, many of the " non-practical" ones had hidden religious meanings that we just do not understand.

I honestly have no idea how old this one is: it can date from early 18th century or from the end of 19th. The unnerving thing is that we just do not have any objective parameters except for the physical conditions of the blade and the handle. Brazing could have been done at any time within this period. Handles were replaced left and right. Gut feelings can, and far too often are, deceptive and prejudiced one way or another.

Whether we like it or not, we have to accept it as it is.
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Old 5th November 2019, 08:57 PM   #30
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Dear Ariel, I understand that it is very unpleasant to be disappointed in a item that you considered "rare" and "unique." But obviously, That this is a “unique” souvenir. May be he is combined the early 20th century, maybe even the late 19th century. Nevertheless, this a souvenir.
And do not try to come up for this souvenir "practicality" or "religious meaning". Otherwise, you can run to extremes and start looking for the "sacred" and "combat" meaning of the forks or spoons ... After all, we understand that a plug can be stuck in the eye and kill a person.
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