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Old 8th November 2017, 09:24 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default How many of the katars we know were court katars?

Before I show any katars, I would like to know what the members think.
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Old 9th November 2017, 01:27 AM   #2
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It depends how you judge a "court katar", if it's by the precious stones or the inscriptions on it.
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Old 9th November 2017, 03:23 AM   #3
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One thing would be artistic gold koftgari? Lots of plain gold koftgari might indicate a later application.
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Old 9th November 2017, 07:42 AM   #4
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Hello Jens,

In my oppinion there is no such a thing as "court katar!" This is a made up term that was invented and is used by some art dealers to make their katars more saleable.

As with regards to decorations, from all that I know, even the rajas used rather plain katars and saved the lavishly decorated ones for dress and parade.

But that's only my "two cents."
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Old 9th November 2017, 02:36 PM   #5
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You are right, I should not have written 'court katars', I should have written 'daily use katars', and maybe added 'of a better quality'.
The question was not very clear, as I meant to ask 'compared to real fighting katars'.
The fighting katars seem to be outnumbered, although they had many very big armies during centuries - sso maybe the fighting katars were the first ones to be melted down.
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Old 9th November 2017, 04:07 PM   #6
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Very astute observations placed here on the topic of katars, and as has been noted, some key qualifying factors toward classification. As Marius said, the bejeweled examples would seem to be reserved for illustrious wear during events where persons of high standing, up to and including royal figures.

As with most forms of weapon, the functional, less decorated examples would certainly have been used in the field, or on campaign. The 'court' classification would be a presumed category in most cases, unless the weapon has specified provenance, as has been noted.

As Jose has also well noted, later decoration which included that of gold koftgari, was often applied later. These circumstances could have been brought about for numerous reasons, some certainly for valid glorification of a favored weapon with important heritage, while others of course more marketable embellishment.

Jens, your study and collecting of katars, as far as I have ever known, surpasses any other such specialized work in the arms and armour community. It would be outstanding to see your examples here with your observations!!!
Please bring them on!!!
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Old 9th November 2017, 04:48 PM   #7
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Most of the katars we see to day have relatively thin side guards, which would disqualify them as fighting weapons. To this come, as Robert writes in his last book, that some of them had older blades attached, which did not qualify them either.
But have a look at this one, it is Rajput 18th century, and 52 cm long. It is made in one piece of dark crystalline wootz,and sounds like a tuning fork when hit on wood.
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Old 9th November 2017, 06:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Most of the katars we see to day have relatively thin side guards, which would disqualify them as fighting weapons. To this come, as Robert writes in his last book, that some of them had older blades attached, which did not qualify them either.
But have a look at this one, it is Rajput 18th century, and 52 cm long. It is made in one piece of dark crystalline wootz,and sounds like a tuning fork when hit on wood.


Salaams Jens, To mirror the words of Jim I have to say what an excellent way you have of offering posts and the fact that you are the leader in your field...and I know you probably don't like people telling you that ... but its true.
One thing about the Katar you show which intrigues me is the strange addition of the VVVVVVV zig zag line at the Forte that I have seen before on Omani Battle Swords and wondered if it was significant.
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Old 9th November 2017, 06:21 PM   #9
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Hello Ibrahiim,
You are right - I dont like to be told that I am a leader in this field, as I am not - what I am, is a collector with an interest i the katars for many years, and through this interest I may have more knowledge than others.
To prove this to you. Yes, the 'VVV's', I dont know what they represent, but I too have seen them before. What about the hilt base? The hilt bases can be very different, but they are mostly represented in both the north and the south, and there are a lot of other questions I have, but I can only research few things at the time - I am sorry to say.
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Old 9th November 2017, 08:51 PM   #10
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I know nothing about katars, but I do understand a little about Hindu symbolism.
What I offer below is merely a suggestion for further research by those who may have an interest in the katar.

The katar can be regarded as principally a Hindu weapon form, and viewed from the perspective of Hindu symbolism, it is full of Shivatic iconography . The blade itself and fullers within the blade are triangles, in fact when in the hand, upward pointing triangles, symbolic of Shiva and the masculine principle.

Downward pointing triangles are symbolic of the female principle and of the Shakti of Shiva, Parvati. In the case of the VVVV in question, we can see positive and negative triangles, the physically present triangles, and the triangles represented by the spaces, thus we have both male and female triangles, male and female symbols

In this ornamentation of a series of triangles I believe it is possible that research may show that the number, and possibly the way in which the triangles are presented will have a specific interpretation, one that may be linked to the male/female principle but not directly representing this. Alternatively, if the VVVV border is read as male + female it can represent community and/or the cosmos.

It may be worthwhile to try to gain an understanding of the Hindu concept of the One God. In short, God is everywhere, nothing exists but God.

So if we look at a katar from the iconographic perspective, we have Shivatic symbolism and if we look at the VVVVV border we possibly have symbolism that can be understood in terms of Shivatic iconography.

I repeat:- the above is just a signpost. A little time spent on investigating the relevant questions will give more.
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Old 9th November 2017, 09:24 PM   #11
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Thank you very much for this mail, it is most interesting, and may lead to a bewtter understanding of the symbolism of decoration.
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Old 9th November 2017, 09:40 PM   #12
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Alan, thank you so much for that fascinating insight into possibilities for these otherwise presumably decorative symbolisms. There are profound complexities in Hindu symbolism, but as Indian weaponry has in many cases been observed as holding much inherent value in these religious aspects it must be strongly considered. Often what seems to the uninitiated to be simple aesthetic decoration has much deeper meaning.

As you well point out, these kinds of symbolism transcend weapon forms but remain inherent in many which are attributed to those of Hindu Faith.

Jens, I know what you mean about recognizing your well known place in the study of these katars as just a collector, but powerfully advanced in this field. Very, very few collectors ever pursue the history, development and classification of these the way you have, and frankly I am extremely proud of what I have learned from you these many years.

That set aside, I look forward to the examples, and Alan's observation on this decoration is excellent. As Ibrahiim has noted, this distinct design of the linear 'V's does occur on Omani arms, and I wonder if perhaps the notable trade from coastal India to Arabia may account for such occurrence?
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Old 10th November 2017, 01:01 AM   #13
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Thank you Jim and interesting about the India Oman link regarding the zig zag pattern. Here are two Omani Swords (Sayf Yamaani)with the zig zag placed in the same part of the weapon as on the Katar; thus my query....
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Old 10th November 2017, 01:38 AM   #14
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Returning to the thread and the question which is what were the better quality Katars? I presume the daggers worn at court fall into the same category.. Pinterest has a lot of very ornate examples at:

https://www.pinterest.com/wmilitari...ers/?lp=truebut

I picked out a couple to place here...The older example with a full handguard form being 17thC and the other showing both sides 18thC. It would seem reasonable to inspect Mughal Court paintings of the period for examples of artwork displaying Katar being worn however these are miniatures and fine detail is not easy to see...

As already stated surely koftgari and finely made scabbards and those examples with semi precious stones incorporated into the design would be likely suspects as court swords or as better quality Katar?
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Old 10th November 2017, 03:19 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Returning to the thread and the question which is what were the better quality Katars? I presume the daggers worn at court fall into the same category.. Pinterest has a lot of very ornate examples at:

https://www.pinterest.com/wmilitari...ers/?lp=truebut



The Met Museum has many excellent examples.
https://www.pinterest.com/worldanti...of-art-collect/
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Old 10th November 2017, 06:55 AM   #16
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Jim, there is very obscure symbolism and iconography in most traditional cultures and the art of those cultures.

For example, most of the art of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages was religious art, and it is all loaded with iconography:- you see a rose, there is a message, you see a lily, there is a different message. Even into the 19th century some artists were still using the symbolism from the past, probably not as often, nor as cleverly, but it did crop up.

When we involve ourselves in attempts to understand the art and design motifs of past societies, we need to be able to think in a way that is in tune with the people from the society that we are attempting to come to terms with. In the case of a society that is based in Hindu religion and the attendant culture, we are really quite fortunate, because apart from sources authored by Hindu people themselves, we have a lot of material that was authored by the British, many of whom were captivated by Hindu culture.

However, any iconography can only apply within the context to which it is related. If we see little upwards pointing triangles in a Hindu context, we know exactly what we are looking at, always dependent upon context, but if we see a line of those little triangles cut into cloth on the kitchen table, well, all we might be seeing is the result of somebody using pinking shears.

Similarly, if we see a line of those little VVVVVV on a Hindu weapon, we know how to approach an understanding of them within a Hindu context, but if we see those VVVVVV in a different context we may only be looking at an ornamental motif. The ornamental motif may have been inspired by religious iconography, but removed from its original context it no longer has the original meaning.

Just as a rose in 21st century pop art is simply a rose
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Old 10th November 2017, 04:48 PM   #17
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Alan is right, and in the start it took me a long time to figure out, that you need knowledge of how they were thinking at the time, and try to think so yourself.
This means, that one need to have some background knowledge, or the understanding of the decoration will be lost.
Thank you Alan for making this clear.
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Old 10th November 2017, 05:07 PM   #18
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Just as an aside, we see the VVVV... motif also on some of the jamdhar katari. A nice example here.

Ian.
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Old 10th November 2017, 05:20 PM   #19
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Brilliantly said Alan, and one of the most perfectly explained perspectives I have seen describing exactly the way we examine, analyze and appreciate the art involved in weaponry. As Jens has noted, we need to step into the times and culture of the people who were using the weapons themselves, and to learn as much as we can about how they thought, what did they believe?

This is why we always emphasize how important it is to include the history, symbolism and in the same perspective, the art and iconography in our study of these arms.

As Alan has also well noted, sometimes the same symbols, motif and designs are transmitted into entirely different contexts as influences transcend cultural and geographic boundaries. In these cases of course, we must realize the original symbolism no longer applies, and becomes simply an aesthetic motif.

However, the influence in the recipient context still does in degree represent historically the connections between the cultures involved at some point. Sometimes these signal events or periods in which the cultures came together, and help in setting the time the weapon from which the weapon derived.

That is in my opinion, the joy and passion of studying these weapons. Not just classification of them, but the stories they share in helping us better understand them; where they were, who used them, what things were represented by them in their character and decoration.

It is wonderful to hear these perspectives from those here who are in my opinion masters of serious weapons study and investigative research.

Perfect analogy about the linear 'V' pattern Alan! sometimes what we see is just that, but it is up to us to determine just when it might be deeper.
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Old 11th November 2017, 01:41 PM   #20
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Alan's post made me remember one of my books, Suvarnadvipa written by R.C.Majumdar.
The book deals with the colonizing of countries and islands of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Bali and Borneo starting under the Saliendra kings from the end of the 8th century to beginning of the 11th century, and continuing in the palmy days of the empire of Majapahit.

I find the reading of the two volumes very interesting, ass it shows that the Indians in the early centuries had ships, which could move a lot of men, or they would not have been able to colonize other countries.
The Indians brought their religion, art, weapons and the symbolism with them, and some of it may have survived the following centuries.

Compare this katar to the one shown in post 7. The side guards are slimmer than the one shown above.
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Old 12th November 2017, 08:11 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde

Compare this katar to the one shown in post 7. The side guards are slimmer than the one shown above.


Hello Jens,

From the mechanical point of view, the sideguards don't need to be particularly thick and strong to serve their purpose well. What is of critical importance for maintainig the integrity and functionality of the Katar are the joints between the grip and the side guards, and these are more dependent on the solidity of the transverse grip bars.

Regards,

Marius
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Old 12th November 2017, 12:56 PM   #22
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Hello Marius,

You may be right when it comes to a sword, but what if the blow comes from a mace?
I have so far seen several katars with 'thin' side guards where one or both side guards are bend inwards, but I have not seen this on the more sturdy katars.

Regards

Jens
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Old 12th November 2017, 01:36 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Most of the katars we see to day have relatively thin side guards, which would disqualify them as fighting weapons.
Jens, I would disagree with this statement. As a close quarters weapon I do not think the thickness of the side bars would make much difference.
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Old 12th November 2017, 04:40 PM   #24
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Eric, you could be right. Another question is, how many of the persons who could pay for these gold and silver decorated weapons, did take part in the actual battle? Did they sit on their elephants directing all the others?
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Old 12th November 2017, 04:59 PM   #25
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From all I know, the main role of the side bars of the Katars is to ensure the stability of the grip by maintaining the alignment between the blade and the forearm and not for parrying blows, albeit they could be used for parry.

If their main purpose would have been parrying, they would have been designed wider, longer and of course thicker, because the way they are, they are simply to short and narrow to effectively block a blow from a Tulwar for example. Any blow from a Tulwar that wouldn't be perfectly perpendicular to the side bar would simply be deflected along the unprotected portion of the arm and cause severe wounding.

Moreover, the Katar was never meant to be a main fighting weapon but a side arm. No Indian soldier would have gone to battle armed with a Katar but with a Tulwar and a shield. The Katar would have stayed sheathed in the sash and pulled out only as a last resort when the wielder has lost his Tulwar, or to deliver a final blow to an incapacitated enemy.

Katars were also used for hunting, exactly the same way the European hunting daggers were used, namely to deliver the final blow to the dying beast.

I know there are many stories about Rajas killing charging tigers and fighting single-handed entire armies armed only with a Katar, but how much truth is in them?!

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Old 12th November 2017, 05:05 PM   #26
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Yes Marius, the sideguards were meant for making stability of the cross bars, but if it was only that, the side bars could have been quite short, as you now and again see them.On other, more fighting style katars, you see the side guards being qiute a bit longer.
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Old 12th November 2017, 05:13 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Yes Marius, the sideguards were meant for making stability of the cross bars, but if it was only that, the side bars could have been quite short, as you now and again see them.On other, more fighting style katars, you see the side guards being qiute a bit longer.
Jens


Nope! If the side bars are shorter, they cannot maintain a stable alignment between the blade and the forearm. They need a certain length for that, a length that extends well above the wrist, and that is exactly about the length they have.

But I agree that there are some Katars more suitable for combat than others, however, this doesn't mean they were deliberately designed for combat.

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Old 12th November 2017, 06:12 PM   #28
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Checking back through library I note the detail regarding decoration and style on~

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=20514

That thread addresses many of the factors concerning highly ornate Katar although I cannot see from paintings of the time any solid evidence of long or short arm bar protectors as a trend in fighting versus court arms....and some may well have been older weapons ornately refabricated or blinged up as court weapons...others perhaps made to order.

In the picture below of the armed warriors in battle order one carrying the head of an opponent it would seem logical that the katar on his belt was a fighting weapon...but it has not particularly long arm guards..neither have many seemingly worn at court (akhbars court is seen in the other two pictures) though these are paintings thus artistic licence may not be relied upon as absolute...it remains a guide.

May it not simply be personal preference why the longer/shorter arm guards appear on some weapons but not all?

It would seem obvious that if a weapon was decorated in very ornate style that it would be a court adornment.
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Old 12th November 2017, 07:02 PM   #29
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One can experiment easily with different Katars and I am pretty sure the conclusion would be that a Katar with longer and stronger arms like the one in Jen's posting no. 7 is much more stable in the hand than one with shorter side arms like the one in Jen's posting no. 20.

Longer arms would ensure better alignment of the blade with the forearm (notice how the longer arms slightly converge opposite to the blade in order to give a firmer prop against the bearer's arm - the same reason why some Katars have the side arms slightly bent inwards, not as a result of a blow, but to ensure better contact with the arm) and through their weight will also serve as a counterbalance to the blade improving the handling of the Katar. The wide four transverse bars will also contribute to the stability of the grip and prevent the rotation in the hand.

The same thing cannot be said for the second Katar that would be rather difficult to use as the very short and rather widely spread side arms would offer no alignment and balance to the blade. At the same time the two transverse bars would ensure a rather narrow grip prone to rotate in the hand.

So, the first Katar would definitely be a functional weapon, while the second one would be more like a dress Katar. And here I contradict my own statement above (second part of it) when I said that "there are some Katars more suitable for combat than others, however, this doesn't mean they were deliberately designed for combat."

As with regards with the illustrations, they are extremely important for general assessment of the presence and use of the Katar on the battlefield, but I believe they are of less value for making an accurate assessment of the proportions of the weapons used, as the artist's focus was certainly not on illustrating the precise proportions of the sidearms.

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Old 12th November 2017, 08:39 PM   #30
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A most interesting discussion, and in the end, there is of course a great deal of assumption involved as we have to rely on the dynamics of the designs, and just how much the katar was used and how.
We can only presume how much license is at hand in paintings, and artists are known to have adjusted size and perspective to favor composition. It renders reasonable plausibility, but not necessarily specific accuracy.

The case for stability in the use of the katar relying on the side guards is of course quite debatable. Obviously these are key in the structure supporting the transverse grips, but I wonder on just how much length is required being based on method of use.

While many consider the katar as only a 'punch dagger', for the thrust, the much larger manner of use was in slashing cuts. In the thrust, a great deal of stability is required with the impact of the blade with the target.
I do not fully understand martial dynamics, but would longer side bars impede the arc of slashing swing? I think it makes sense that the side guards would he heavier in less ornate fighting examples.

However, is it feasible that some side guards were larger, longer to serve as a more accommodating palette for decorative motif?

The long 'gauntlet' sword, pata, evolved from the largely covered hand style katars of Tanjore if I understand correctly, though there are sword katars or pata which are open hilt in the true manner. The gauntlet or enclosure which had a bar supporting the forearm, would have been the support needed for slashing.
I am not certain, but I have always understood that Mahrattas, those who were primary users as the katar (later pata) evolved, disfavored the thrust.
The pata in my view, simply offered longer reach from horseback.

I think the katar would have been a secondary weapon to the sword, and used mostly in close quarters combat, not in the shock action preceding a melee. The shield was for the parry. A blow to the fighting hand with a mace or battle axe would be deadly regardless of what the weapon held was I would think.
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