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Old 13th September 2007, 12:11 PM   #1
Bill M
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Default My Pata

Just got my first Pata. It has a feel of really being used, more than abused. Seems like a real battle weapon. I am taken aback by the sheer size of this at almost 50" long. It has a very flexible blade. Is this common to Patas?

I belive 18th/19th c.

I have heard that these are cousins to katars. Any comments on this or the flexible blade?
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Old 13th September 2007, 09:05 PM   #2
fernando
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Hi Bill
My knowledge is deeply limited, but you can say that patas and katars are cousins indeed. Both are of ancestral Hindu origin.
The majority of patas have European blades, i think even in greater percentage than those in katars. In the very beginning a few blades could have been captured during battles ( with Portuguese ), but basicaly they were imported.
The experts wil tell you more about these particular weapons, considered a most complete type of edged weapon , but demanding for school training, which didn't help their prevailance on the field.
Best regards
fernando
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Old 14th September 2007, 05:50 AM   #3
Jim McDougall
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Fernando,
You are most modest, and your knowledge is more than you will admit, given the remarkable weapons you seem to find these past years!!!

I am of the impression that the pata, as well as the katar are both in degree associated with the Marathas and their associations in trade with the Portuguese . While as indicated, there were certain instances of captured blades, there were a great number of blades of considerable length that would exceed the reach of most rapiers acquired in trade from Venice and Portugal. These early examples were from late 15th early 16th century presumably though most profound evidence seems of 17th c.

Many early examples of katar seem to be fashioned from either cut down or broken European sword blades, of course mounted in the same transverse grip hilt used in the gauntlet hilt of the pata. Although the katar is typically thought of as a punch or thrust dagger, it is known that it was used more typically in the same slashing cuts employed with the pata, though of course in closer quarters. It remains unclear whether these weapons developed concurrently or progressively from one or the other.

Bill's example shown here seems to be quite battleworthy and from the photos appears quite likely 18th c. Highly flexible broadsword blades were favored for the slashing cuts, and seem to contradict the presumption that the pata was used as a lance type thrusting weapon.

Nice fighting example Bill !!

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 15th September 2007, 05:35 AM   #4
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I have been reviewing notes on the pata and katar and though I would add some things here in case there might be further interest in this thread.

Apparantly the pata was a later development of the katar and the katar seems to have developed in southern India sometime early in the 16th c. Robert Elgood in "Hindu Arms and Ritual" (p.149 , fig.15.9) shows an early 16th c.sculpture at Jalakanthesvara Temple Mandapa , Vellore with a warrior wielding a gauntlet dagger. The key feature with these of course have to do with the traversely positioned grips that have suggested the primary function of a punch or thrust dagger.Elgood (op.cit.p.145) notes that by the late 16th to early 17th c. European blades became predominant on katars, and the katar, known as 'jambujadiya' in Sri Lanka, with the closing of the handguard and elongation of the blade became the 'ahura kadura' (=equestrian gauntlet sword).

It is interesting to note that the closed hilt gauntlet on these edged weapons seems to have evolved from the influence of European swords in the south and the developing hand guards eventually closed . These traversely gripped weapons diffused into the Maratha regions to the west, and has been noted the ready availability of European blades mounted in Maratha patas become relatively common.

Research on the possibility of earlier presence of the katar continues, while the development of the pata seems relatively established from the katar .

The reference in Stone (p.436) to the mysterious gauntlet sword described as a Moorish 'boarding sword' of 14th-15th c. once seemed a tempting possibility to the ancestry of the pata. This gauntlet weapon was mounted with a short straight blade between two shorter side blades, in somewhat a trident form. The Stone reference cites as a source an obscure c.1840 inventory of the Royal Armoury in Madrid for the weapon. The weapon was illustrated in Albert Calverts "Spanish Arms and Armour" in 1907 and is actually the only known example of the weapon, which has long since vanished. This strange weapon seems strikingly similar to the 'military forks' of 16th c. Europe (Stone p.450) and it seems almost as if the head of one of these combat altered pitchforks might have been joined with a gauntlet .
While intriguing, this line of speculation is entirely unsupportable and only mentioned here as the topic was included in a number of discussions a couple of years ago.

The question that remains is why was the traverse grip developed, and was the concept limited to the Subcontinent (aside from the curious manople).
The original purpose seems to have been for the thrust, but it is known that the Maratha technique seems to favor slashing, both with pata and katar.
Since shields are often held with traverse grips, and there were examples mounted with blades in the center, presumably for a thrust in adverse conditions...could this have led to the concept of traversely mounted grips on a dagger? It seems I have seen illustrations of a warrior using a shield with a long stiletto type blade using it in such a manner, but lost in notes.

Last, a reference in Burton(p.215) "...the maushtika (fist sword, stiletto) is only a span long, and thus very handy for all kinds of movements".
This reference to a 'fist' sword is extremely tempting to associate to the katar, though the period Burton is discussing is unstated and the term 'span' is decidedly vague (why would a 'sword' be only 9" long?).

This simply seemed like a good opportunity to discuss the katar and the development of the pata, and I would appreciate comments/corrections and observations that might help us better understand the history of these fascinating swords.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 15th September 2007, 12:06 PM   #5
Jens Nordlunde
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Damascene Work in India, 1892, by T. H. Hendley.

Page 10. The fist fills the grip of the Indian sword, and a large pommel confines the hand. Burton points out that this was the case long ago, as Arjuna is so represented grasping his weapon in the Caves of Elephanta. As the Indian does not fence, he does not require a straight pointed weapon. The Indian hilt is small and has no knuckle-guard. The heavier swords have knuckle-guards, and even basket hilts. The huge gauntlet swords – Patta – used by the Nagas or military monks of Jeypore, and by Mahrattas, have large steel gauntlets.
Comments to page 10. I find the description of how the hilts were held were good, and feel sure that he would have mentioned it, had the Indians held it otherwise.

Page 11. [about the katar] It is mentioned by Ibn Batuta, who lived in the days of Mohamed Toghluk, that is, about AD 1332.
Comments to page 11. A travel companion of Betuta’s was killed at the coast of west India, with a weapon described as being a katar. As the katar described, hardly is the first one ‘invented’, it is likely that the katar, as a weapon, is far older.
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Old 15th September 2007, 06:00 PM   #6
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde

... As the katar described, hardly is the first one ‘invented’, it is likely that the katar, as a weapon, is far older.


Sure thing.
May i add up a little detail, Bill, Jens and Jim ?
I have read that the older patás examples known around, are from the XVI century, which match their "joint venture" with European/Portuguese blades, right ?
It is amazing how two distinct atributions for the name patá are available. In Wikipedia they say the term derives froma the Portuguese pata ( with accentuation on the first "A" ) which means hoof , reminding the gauntlet of this sword. In Daehnhardt's work/s we read that the term is patá ( with accentuation on the second "A" ) and comes from the from Patãs = Pahans, whom constituted one of the many subdivisions of the Xatrias = Kchatryas cast, or Indian warriors, whom used them for military purpose, both in their homeland or abroad ( quoting Fray Sebastião Manrique in Viagens = Travels, a work of the 1600's ). Unfortunately i ignore whether he quotes this author only for the Pathan warriors or also for the sword name.
Mybe i will ask him one day.
Anyway i find this second attribution of the term the correct one.
fernando

Last edited by fernando : 15th September 2007 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 15th September 2007, 08:04 PM   #7
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I'm glad to see you in on this Jens! Thank you for the Hendley data , which is most helpful material and I had forgotten about that resource. The information on the katar also is outstanding and I knew there was material about earlier presence of the katar that we had discussed long ago, but did not recall Ibn Batuta's narrative. I think one of the concerns was that going by the term 'katar' in such an early narrative are the possibilities that the weapon form so described may have been different than we picture it. It seems there is a weapon shown as 'katar' (I think in Pant?) that is a standard hilted knife or dagger, from northern India regions. Pant was of course stating elsewhere in his "Indian Arms and Armour" that the correct term for the katar was actually 'jemadhar', and the original error in application occurred in Egerton.
I still agree that the katar as a weapon in its transversely gripped form was a much earlier weapon as you note, but where in the world did this idea come from? We know that so many weapon influences entered India from other places, noteably China, Persia for example, with European influences much later around 16th c. but such transverse grips do not occur outside the subcontinent ..aside from the mysterious 'manople' which remains simply an anomaly.

Fernando,
Thank you for adding the excellent detail! and some very good data on the terminology for the pata. The only etymology I was aware of was the term Pata deriving from Hindi (= long straight leaf) suggesting the long straight broadsword blades. I had not seen the Wikipedia entry noting the term as it is typically pronounced and surprisingly indicating a Portuguese apparantly colloquial term for horse hoof. That would make sense as the use of Portuguese blades was so prevalent in these and of course the 'firangi' or khanda (that term supposedly referring to 'foreigner' or more specifically Portuguese). The Portuguese may well have viewed these heavily enclosed gauntlet hilts as clumsy considering thier preference for thier own intricately fashioned guards on the rapiers they presumably carried, and the horse hoof term was likely meant somewhat derisively.

I had not thought of the Pathans being associated with the weapon as most of the focus on its use is applied in more southern regions with the Marathas the group primarily associated with the pata. It is of course known that, as Daehnhardt has noted, the Pathans were indeed warriors of numerous tribes in the north that did often serve as mercenaries for the Mughals. While I am aware that the pata did find use in limited degree far the the north, I am not aware that it would have been used by Pathans. I am inclined not to consider the Pathan term for a source for the etymology of the term for this sword type. Regardless, good observation!!

I am unclear on who the military monks of Jeypore were, and am not aware of Nagan use of the pata....can we clarify who these were and can anyone provide more on the Nagans?
Also, there seems to be variations of the term Maratha/ Mahratta. Why the difference in spelling and is one considered more correct than the other?
Were Rajputs known to have used the pata? We know of course they used the khanda/ or Hindu basket hilt.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 17th September 2007, 06:43 PM   #8
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In answering my own questions, I'll assume the term Maratha and Mahratta were simply spelling variations pending any possible input It seems I once read that the Maratha term applied to the language rather than the people. Source unfortunately cannot recollect.
As for Rajput use of the pata, I can only presume that it would have found such use, there seem to have been Mughal examples, and in Egerton one is shown with Punjab provenance. I just thought it would be interesting if anyone had specific knowledge.
I do hope the material I compiled and wrote in my post might be of assistance to any readers who might be interested in these distinctly recognizable weapons of the Indian armoury, and wrote with this in mind.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 17th September 2007, 09:10 PM   #9
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Default More Fuel for the Fire

In Burtons book, page 110, relating to the Rajaput guantlet sword he has this anecdote accompanying description of number 402,

"Used by the Sikhs in their sword play and by Mohomedans at the festival of Mohurrum. Also by Maharattas in Southern India. Gauntlet swords are supposed to have been used by the cavalry of the Great Mogul, and probably of Tartar or Turcoman origen.

Cf. long two edged blade in the Taylor collection, "Suhela", so called from a kind of steel that is always flexible and highly prized according to the proverb " Baudde Suhela, ruhu akela." Put on a Suhela, and you may remain alone."

end quote,

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Old 17th September 2007, 10:31 PM   #10
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Default Flexible Blade and what it indicates

Hey Bill,

Seems one could make a case for the relationship of a pata to a katar based on the grip shape. The katar has a rigid blade sometimes with an armor piercing tip that is clearly able to deliver a substantial forward impact concentrated into the tip of the blade. The transverse grip would allign the arm and wrist to best absorb impact from a forward thrust. There have also been studies that a straight punch delivers the most force.

The pata has the same transverse grip with the addition of an enclosed guard, there the similarity ends, for it is coupled with a much long sword blade that is normally flexible. The flexible blade would be opposed to thrusting use and indicate a cutting or slashing style of use that could better absorb impact without breaking.

There are also studies on what shapes of blades would better cut through bone. The shamshir and tulwar have references for cutting through armour, limbs and horse, not familiar with any accounts of a pata doing the same.

There are known uses of the pata by a maharaja during battle so it must have been considered a valuable and dominate weapon at times by the people using it. There is an account of two patas being used florentine (one in each hand) by a raja until he had one arm severed in battle.

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Old 19th September 2007, 08:27 PM   #11
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Thanks rand!
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