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Old 24th May 2020, 02:52 PM   #1
Drabant1701
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Default Indian katar - why so desirable?

Stockholms auktionsverk held an arms and armour auction today. Among many fine items was a beautiful katar. I had a very low estimate so I kept my ey eye on it. And it went for almost a 100 times the estimate. I can see that its a very fine item. And if it is old, 17th century, then the condition is really good. But I feel I´m missing some vital information to why someone would pay that much for it. Can any of the more seasoned collectors of indian weapon enlighten me as to why this katar is so desirable?

https://online.auktionsverket.se/2005/773181-katar/

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Old 24th May 2020, 03:43 PM   #2
Peter Andeweg
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Interesting Katar, looking at the typical and very scarce tiger pattern in koftgari, I would suggest this Katar was probably linked to 'Tipu Sultan' the 'Tiger of Misore' many of his personal collection came on the market and most items went sky high at auction.

The Mysore reign came after the Vijanagagara empire and Tipu Sultan defended the empire against the British, but died during the Anglo-Mysore war in 1799.

He had his own arsenal with very high quality arms and armour, many of these were decorated with tiger stripe motifs. These items were confiscated by the British and are very sought after by collectors. The motif used is called 'Babri' or 'Bubri'

The riveted blade and style tells us this Katar is made in Southern India, which is another clue to the Tipu Sultan.

All the best,
Peter
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Old 24th May 2020, 04:53 PM   #3
David R
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A personal observation only, value is always a shifting paradigm, money available, desirability, rarity and in an auction... competition.

Other than that, really good Katar are rare, the bulk of them that I have seen at arms fairs are fairly plain, and in bad condition.
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Old 24th May 2020, 05:03 PM   #4
corrado26
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For your consolation: Here in Germany nobody will buy a katar, because this type of weapon is a forbidden one over here and the possession of it is illegal and strongly punished

Last edited by corrado26 : 25th May 2020 at 06:30 AM.
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Old 24th May 2020, 05:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R
A personal observation only, value is always a shifting paradigm, money available, desirability, rarity and in an auction... competition.

Other than that, really good Katar are rare, the bulk of them that I have seen at arms fairs are fairly plain, and in bad condition.


I agree. I have seen many auctions where competition leads to inflated prices. It may just be people with unlimited funds. But what bugs me here is that normaly I can say; well they payed twice what that was worth. In this case I really can not, it may well be the right price.
Often when things get really expensive it tend to have provenance, or be engraved with the owners name, or be made of jade and diamonds and rubies.
So I thought maybe Im missing something that the experienced collectors (like Jens) will pick up on. Somethinh in the line of; the tiger patterna was only allowed on weapons belonging to the 17th century mugal emperor Soandso.
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Old 24th May 2020, 06:40 PM   #6
Will M
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Even if one pays more than current value these items will reach that value and surpass it in time. I'm not in that league spending 10's of $1000's.
The rivet through the blade is not professionally done and most likely a later replacement but would raise the question of the blade being original to the hilt.
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Old 24th May 2020, 07:44 PM   #7
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India is a fast growing economy with some very wealthy people.
This piece might well be bought by an indian who wants his history back
The same happens with chinese collectors buying china porcelain in western countries.

I added some of the pictures for later reference.
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Old 24th May 2020, 07:47 PM   #8
Battara
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Thanks Asomotif.

In the future folks please post a picture and not just a link. Links disappear after time.
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Old 24th May 2020, 09:03 PM   #9
Oliver Pinchot
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It's decorated in bubris or tiger stripes.
I didn't read the description but bidders probably assumed it has
some connection with Tipu Sultan.
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Old 24th May 2020, 09:13 PM   #10
Nihl
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If I had to guess, as a collector that does focus mostly on Indian weapons, the reason for the inflated price on this katar actually does come from (as Drabant suggested) its tiger stripes. These stripes are famously associated with Tipu Sultan, an 18th century South Indian ruler that was known for being pretty much being the last source of Indian resistance (and indeed the last independent kingdom) in South India against British expansion. He was known for being quite fond of tigers, and as a result had tiger faces and stripes and all sorts of tiger-related imagery on his possessions. For ease of reference a blunderbuss that is known to have been owned by him is attached. The problem with this is that, given his prominence in Indian history, his name and things representative of him (i.e. the tiger stripes) are then frequently attached to things in order to increase their worth, often quite dubiously as it is next to impossible to tell if a weapon was really owned by him or not. As a result, there are several "swords of Tipu Sultan", as well as guns and other such things that all have tigers featured on them in some way (attached is one such sword with very obvious tiger imagery). An example of clearly fraudulent attribution can be seen on Faganarms, where they justified selling a sword with a (relatively) roughly cast and decorated brass hilt for over $3,000 on the basis that it had a tiger-head pommel and "stripes" going down the handle (see https://www.faganarms.com/products/...-of-tipu-sultan, though a picture of the hilt is also attached). Though this katar is way more likely to have been owned by Tipu, it is at the same time entirely possible (I would argue, anyways,) that the koftgari artist that decorated it was simply a fan of waves.
Regardless though it certainly is quite a fine katar.

Additional factors would be the remarkably good condition the katar is in, given (specifically) how the koftgari decoration appears to have very few damages to it. There's also the fact that plenty of collectors/dealers see these items solely as art pieces, and as a result feel justified in spending exorbitant amounts of money on them in general (and an item with the "provenance" of being sold for so much means that it can be sold again - for the same price or higher - later on, should its owner ever need the money).
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Old 24th May 2020, 09:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl
If I had to guess, as a collector that does focus mostly on Indian weapons, the reason for the inflated price on this katar actually does come from (as Drabant suggested) its tiger stripes. These stripes are famously associated with Tipu Sultan, an 18th century South Indian ruler that was known for being pretty much being the last source of Indian resistance (and indeed the last independent kingdom) in South India against British expansion. He was known for being quite fond of tigers, and as a result had tiger faces and stripes and all sorts of tiger-related imagery on his possessions. For ease of reference a blunderbuss that is known to have been owned by him is attached. The problem with this is that, given his prominence in Indian history, his name and things representative of him (i.e. the tiger stripes) are then frequently attached to things in order to increase their worth, often quite dubiously as it is next to impossible to tell if a weapon was really owned by him or not. As a result, there are several "swords of Tipu Sultan", as well as guns and other such things that all have tigers featured on them in some way (attached is one such sword with very obvious tiger imagery). An example of clearly fraudulent attribution can be seen on Faganarms, where they justified selling a sword with a (relatively) roughly cast and decorated brass hilt for over $3,000 on the basis that it had a tiger-head pommel and "stripes" going down the handle (see https://www.faganarms.com/products/...-of-tipu-sultan, though a picture of the hilt is also attached). Though this katar is way more likely to have been owned by Tipu, it is at the same time entirely possible (I would argue, anyways,) that the koftgari artist that decorated it was simply a fan of waves.
Regardless though it certainly is quite a fine katar.

Additional factors would be the remarkably good condition the katar is in, given (specifically) how the koftgari decoration appears to have very few damages to it. There's also the fact that plenty of collectors/dealers see these items solely as art pieces, and as a result feel justified in spending exorbitant amounts of money on them in general (and an item with the "provenance" of being sold for so much means that it can be sold again - for the same price or higher - later on, should its owner ever need the money).


Thank you Nihl! I have seen the tipu swords before but did not make the connectionbto this katar.
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Old 24th May 2020, 09:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
It's decorated in bubris or tiger stripes.
I didn't read the description but bidders probably assumed it has
some connection with Tipu Sultan.


I suspect this is the answer. No attribution as such in the description but clearly bidders associated the tiger stripes on this katar with Tipu Sultan.
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Old 25th May 2020, 01:55 AM   #13
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Any thoughts on the origin of the blade of the katar in question? Looks to be of possible European origin to my untrained eye. Scottish?
For the hammer price this piece realized, I was expecting a fine blade of wootz.
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Old 27th May 2020, 01:54 AM   #14
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As to its price:
There was a study some years ago: professional economists wanted to know the relation of the actual worth to the final price at auction-like sales.
The bottom line: real worth of an auctioned object equals the average of all bids.
Based on this calculation, the winner did not seem to overpay excessively.
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Old 27th May 2020, 03:05 AM   #15
Jim McDougall
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It has been my understanding that this design interpreted as 'bubris' or tiger stripes is actually the 'cintamani' design, an Ottoman motif, used in the Deccan in 17th c. and as this katar, predating Tipu Sultan and his father Haider Ali.
While this is of course a desirable katar, the presumption of Tipu connection surely fueled the resultant bid.

It seems the designs were a combining of the three dots, which I believe represented the dots of a panther, and symbolic for the Timurids, and the Ottoman design which do represent stripes and tiger of course.
While the 'cintamani' designs do align with similar shaped designs on some weapons claimed to be Tipu's, and the mechanical 'toy' tiger well known, it is of course somewhat established prior to his adopting of it, and in Deccani context.
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Old 27th May 2020, 12:44 PM   #16
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I support our favorite guru, it's an Ottoman Turkish design. In fact it is probably Seldjuk. This motive went to the Deccan through Iran.

https://www.amazon.com/Iran-Deccan-...0/dp/0253048915

The tiger-stripe a ‘chintamani’ design (the three circles). The tiger strips are in fact a kind of flower but I don't remember where I saw this.

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/445263

Here a book about these Ottoman textiles.
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Old 27th May 2020, 04:14 PM   #17
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I have a vague recollection of this design being associated with Timur (1335-1405), making it somewhat more ancient than otherwise noted. Sadly, I have no idea of the actual source of that recollection.
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Old 27th May 2020, 10:10 PM   #18
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I think that the high price might have been a consequence of “wishful thinking”: buyers were under impression that the wavy lines were an example of Tipu’s favourite “ Bubris”.

The auction’ description did not help much: any mention of bubris and Tipu were carefully omitted. Perhaps from the genuine lack of knowledge, perhaps with the intent to let buyers think they got an under-researched treasure. The incredibly high starting bid might have been a hint that the auction knew something important.
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Old 27th May 2020, 10:16 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob A
I have a vague recollection of this design being associated with Timur (1335-1405), making it somewhat more ancient than otherwise noted. Sadly, I have no idea of the actual source of that recollection.


See Sheila Blair “ Timurid signs of sovereignty”.
Three circles were one of them. Interestingly, they continued to be put on Afghani blades even as late as 19 century.
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Old 28th May 2020, 11:38 AM   #20
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Ironically, the omission of key details in the manner suggested describing the auction detail may have been to avoid the complexity of trying to attribute the motif on this katar.
While this design/motif is Ottoman associated from that use in art and textiles from about 15th c. the triple orbs and the wavy lines seem an amalgamation of symbols from different sources.

Though the wavy lines are suggested to represent tiger stripes, perhaps that idea stems from the compelling possibility of the triple orbs representing leopard spots in the Turkic tradition of animal symbolism in devices. This is believed to be the source for the Timurid three circle design, which was allegedly the symbol of state (as presumed from coinage of Timur's time bearing it).

Apparently the 'triple orb' device long predated Timur's use of it however, in Buddhist tradition, where the 'cintamani' term was associated with a jewel, and in some representations, in three.

It seems that the triple orb design entered the Persian sphere, as described by Y. Kadoi (" Cintamani: Notes on the Turco-Iranian Style", Persica 21, 2006-2007, pp. 33-49) with Lamaist scholars in the Iranian-Mongol court in 13th c. It remains unclear but for speculation as to the adoption of the design by Timur, but in the Turkic parlance the orbs may have been seen as spots as per their traditions of animal representations in a totemic sense.

By this same token, it seems perhaps that Tipu adopted these 'wavy lines' from Ottoman art and regarded them as 'tiger stripes', as seen on some of his regalia.

It would take considerably tenuous optimism to attribute any particular item with such design to Tipu specifically based on this design, without remarkable and sound provenance.
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Old 3rd June 2020, 02:44 AM   #21
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Not to intentionally throw a wrench in the discussion here and completely switch the current focus of thread, but gentlemen I'd like to point out one key element here: the katar in question does not have a single set of triple orbs anywhere on it. Don't get me wrong, given my own skepticism/cynicism of a possible Tipu-related attribution, I much prefer the idea that it is related to this Chintamani design, however I find it hard to ignore that it is missing the (arguably) most significant & identifying aspect of that design: the three dots. The katar in question, quite simply, is covered in waves. No dots/circles/orbs to be found anywhere on it. Clicking on the pictures on the auction website will actually open a new window where one can view them at astonishingly high resolution, however nowhere in these high-res images can three dots, stacked in that distinctive turkic "chintamani" style, be gleamed.

Apologies if I'm being too cynical/narrow-minded here to see that the waves featured on this katar are emulating chintamani and only chintamani styling, but as far as I see it my suggestion that the decorator/commissioner of this katar simply liked waves is still valid. Although yes, I am aware they could have been influenced by the chintamani style, I am still of the opinion that the waves featured are too ambiguous to be so specifically attributed.
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