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Old 15th December 2019, 07:08 PM   #23
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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Originally Posted by David R
As I understand it, Katar daggers were more of a civil weapon than a battlefield weapon, as in fact most daggers are. When swords and spears are on the field a dagger is a last resort used in desperation, or to give a coup de grace to the fallen.

I have also read of them being used in some parts of India to shed blood when making a binding contract.....

In this case I think the posted weapon is a decent example of the real thing, tourist stuff tends to be cheap and flashy

There are actually a fair few of them posted on this site.

I agree. The katar was it seems far more a courtly weapon than one used in battle. Of course, representations of these kinds of events in art often depict katars present because the images typically focus on key individuals of the period, usually rulers or nobility.

Daggers in general carry a utilitarian premise, but like katars, often are seen present in battle scene images. The coup de grace notion is I think mostly a chivalrous and romanticized image, much as the left hand dagger especially the 'sword breaker' was in degree a romantic depiction rather than actual usage. The actual events were typically far less dynamic than artists and writers characteristically portrayed them.

Very good note on the katar being a symbolic device in certain instances in western India, I believe the Kattees of Gujerat, who saw the weapon as an image of honor, and sealed binding agreement on oaths set on them.
It was Jens' research that found this (in Egerton) as he found coins depicting katars as sort of symbols of state, as well as on blades in the same manner.

The reference to the katar as a battle weapon, or its demise is it seems to me rather moot, as it has been well noted in its courtly capacity as well as being a traditional weapon. Much as the sword, even after its effective obsolescence, these weapons carried forward as traditional and symbolic icons faithfully as representations culturally recognized.

One thing I would note here on edged weapons in general, while in many cultures as inert traditional symbols and accoutrements, in many places they remained in use into more recent times. In some cases, they of course are still used as weapons in one degree or another.

It would be too far off topic to carry that into detail here, but in return to the katar in discussion, it appears a genuine piece of early 19th c. if not somewhat earlier and of course with a replacement scabbard (very nicely done some time ago) as is typically the case with most ethnographic edged weapons of age.

The 'tourist' appellation is in my view typically overused and misplaced . In many cultures traditional weapons remained in use for wear in many events and purposes into recent and even modern times. The case of 'souvenir' items is more properly regarded as items made outside the traditional parameters and often almost fanciful in character, as noted .
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