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Old 20th May 2019, 10:34 AM   #1
corrado26
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Default Small Katar

I got this katar with its sheeth. What is remarkable is its small wideness of its handle of only 58mm what makes it unusable for a men's hand. The total length is 340mm and its weight is 223g. Was it perhaps made for a child?
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Old 20th May 2019, 12:00 PM   #2
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Their general stature was much smaller than the average of today. My Katar is also too small for my hand, as is my Tulwar.
That is a nice example.
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Old 20th May 2019, 05:54 PM   #3
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This is interesting as we are discussing a rather diminutive breast plate on Euro right now, which is clearly too small for a normal male chest, and there are concerns whether it might have even been for a child (lack of slits or means for wear attachment notwithstanding). There is the possibility of this example being a model or display piece, but of course uncertain. With some weaponry in India, it seems that sometimes the innovation in arms making extended even to novelty with armorers producing unusual pieces, perhaps even miniatures, for patrons.

It has been a topic discussed for many years here, whether smaller grips in Indian sword hilts would suggest smaller stature of men there, or perhaps even the manner in which the sword was held. It does seem that certain instances of sword hilt character did result in smaller size of grip with regulation British pattern (1908) made for native troops. This does not seem to have become widely practiced prior to this, as far as regularly noted pattern records I have seen.

The size of this katar does seem remarkably small, and I would note that some katars made by innovative armorers consisted of several which were carried together in either same scabbard or even enclosed in the larger dagger. This could be one of the smaller 'case' members but now put into its own scabbard.

Returning to the childs accouterment idea, in India, as in many cultures, children reached majority in station often at early age. There were many extremely young princes and court members who would have been given weapons of the regularly worn types in accord with those of adults nominally in their charge or station.

Obviously, they were not expected to be used, but a matter of tradition and protocol .

This may be a plausible explanation for consideration.
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Old 20th May 2019, 06:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrian
Their general stature was much smaller than the average of today. My Katar is also too small for my hand, as is my Tulwar...

I will obviously concur with such assessment. Not only their hands were small but also slim ... enough to fit into those weapons narrow hilts. There are so many accounts of this particularity that, otherwise, all such recorded Indian hilts being for young men, would be implausible.
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Old 21st May 2019, 10:26 AM   #5
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I am sorry for having posted this katar in the wrong category. Would it be possible to place it in the ethnographic category please?
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Old 21st May 2019, 10:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corrado26
I am sorry for having posted this katar in the wrong category. Would it be possible to place it in the ethnographic category please?
corrado26

Right away, Udo .
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Old 21st May 2019, 02:23 PM   #7
Jens Nordlunde
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The katar could have been made for a child or a young man.
In India many boys at the age of seven or eight had replicas of the grown ups weapons, and was trained in using them.
I have a number of katars and most have cross bars of 7.5 cm, a few of 8 cm, and one or two of 6 cm - see the attached.
When it comes to how tall the average Indian was, it is mentioned in an article in Sultans of the South. Arts of India's Deccan Courts, 1323-1687. Fortifications and Gunpowder in the Deccan, 1368-1687 by Klaus Roetzer. Here the author gives the average hight to 1.7 meter.
It must also be remembered, that many Indians have a finer bone building that most Europeans.
Most tulwar hilts and katars are too narrow for an European, but would fit an Indian hand. When it comes to the tulwar hilt, it must also be remembered, that the way they used the sword, it was important that the grip was very tight.
Overall length 43 cm, blade 24 cm.
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Old 21st May 2019, 03:24 PM   #8
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Many thanks to all who answered my question, it was all of great help.
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Old 21st May 2019, 04:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
... It must also be remembered, that many Indians have a finer bone building that most Europeans...

So indeed, Jens.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 02:09 AM   #10
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In accord with Jens' excellent entry and suggestion of this katar made for a young boy or young man, I would note the comparison between a regular sized Hindu basket hilt and a khanda for a boy. In ensuring we keep the focus on Indian arms this illustration serves well.

In addition to knowing that in India young regal figures were given edged weapons for their wear, obviously smaller than usual, it does seem regularly noted than the stature, and obviously hands were often smaller.

In Brian Robson's book on British army swords, but noting the M1908 sword for the ARMY OF INDIA, though the pattern followed that of the British model, but it "...featured a smaller grip to match the generally smaller hands of the troopers recruited in the Sub Continent".

It is surprising that more attention is not given in the many references on Indian arms toward edged weapons for children, young boys at least in some degree as it does seem fairly well known.

These dimensions of the transverse bars on examples noted by Jens measuring from just over 2.5" to just over 3" on small katars seems of note in comparison to my own hand which measures just over 4.5" wide. Clearly a dramatic difference in being able to hold such a weapon.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 09:13 AM   #11
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In this discussion I am not too fond of 'smaller hands', I prefer slimmer hands, as their bone structure is finer than the Europeans.


The katar shown below is made for a child. Deccan early 18th century. overall length 20 cm, blade 10 cm, and the cross bars 6.5 cm.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 09:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
In this discussion I am not too fond of 'smaller hands', I prefer slimmer hands, as their bone structure is finer than the Europeans ...

I am glad you confirm that, Jens ... as i attempted in my post #4.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 02:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
In this discussion I am not too fond of 'smaller hands', I prefer slimmer hands, as their bone structure is finer than the Europeans.


The katar shown below is made for a child. Deccan early 18th century. overall length 20 cm, blade 10 cm, and the cross bars 6.5 cm.


Good to point out Jens, and it does seem that Fernando did use the term 'slimmer' in noting the character of hands that would suit these narrow hilts we are discussing on katars (#4).

It was in my description that I used the term 'smaller' hands, mostly as I was considering a broader scope toward arms and armor with smaller elements possibly made for children.

Obviously when we are considering the katar, a weapon with transverse grips which cause the hand to be enclosed by the outside bars which attach these grips, if these bars are short, thus narrow...then only a narrow (=slim) hand would fit inside.
I should have better qualified my description ( not realizing the importance of narrow/slim vs. small) to suit the weapon form discussed. Clearly my notes on other arms forms which were perhaps for children or smaller statured persons carried the focus into a more comprehensive scope, as seen with my notes on swords and the equally tenuously mentioned armor.

When reviewing the 'sizes' of these Indian weapons, I think back to years ago when we were reading through 'Tod' and the measuring of blades (mostly) in barley corns.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 02:46 PM   #14
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Well Jim, I feel that especially in this case, slim is important, as an Indian can have hand as long as mine, but it is mostly slimmer.
Katar and tulwars would need a tight grip the way they were used, but a khanda was used in another way, so these grips are mostly bigger, and no doubt, an Indian with big hands would have had weapons accordingly.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 03:31 PM   #15
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In quoting Rainer Daehnhardt's work HOMENS ESPADAS E TOMATES, in page 191, referring to Talwars:
Portuguese would not use this weapon, firstly because they trusted more their own and secondly because the majority of the grips of Talwars is so small* that few were the Portuguese hands that would enter them.
* I would rather see Mr. Daehnhardt using the term slim; notwithstanding he didn't care, in the context, to resource a more exact term for India natives anatomic particularity.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 04:26 PM   #16
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I am 1.65 m tall and have fine bone structure. When I was in India, I clearly felt that I am at least as tall as the majority of Indians, if not somehow taller. So, I beleve the 1.7 cm in Jens' posting is rather generous.

Most Indian Katars I have a grip width of 6.5-7 cm and fit my hand tightly.

The Katar, like the Tulwar require a very tight grip to ensure good control and strength.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 05:01 PM   #17
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Thanks guys, it is amazing how much 'fine tuning' is necessary in some discussions which are indeed figuratively 'narrow' in themselves as are the certain elements which are in question. I do think however that additional clarification must be made, as Jens notes, a hand may be slim...but not necessarily 'narrow' (=long?).

So we are thinking of the depth of the hand rather than the length.
Equally, by narrow we must consider the width of the hand, as the katar grips are enclosed at either side. My hand is over 4" wide, far too wide for a 2.5" to 3" enclosure.

With the tulwar and the khanda, the hand is around the grip without as notable an enclosure (unless the distance between guard and is very narrow). I noticed a reference in reading that one figure in an Indian court was 'large' (larger?) but that his weapons were indeed made larger in accord.

Does this mean he was of 'regular' size as opposed to 'smaller' (in stature) Indian men, or that he was even notably larger than even the normal size men of the period overall ?

I find it rather surprising to think that the author, Mr. Daehnhardt, would not care about a term he used in description, but perhaps considered such' hair splitting' irrelevant. He undoubtedly presumed those inclined to read his book were peers who were able to discern what he meant.
It would seem that the note toward the Portuguese preferring their own weapons over the Indian talwar because the grips on them were too small, made the specification obvious.
It would seem that the 'peculiarity' of smaller size in 'many' Indian men in certain ethnographic groups is fairly well known, and applies not to physiological or especially anatomical particulars, but to general physique which includes hands.

As for the preference of the Portuguese to their own weapons, it was not just the grip sizes of talwars* but that the Portuguese were Iberian, and had a deep affinity for their rapiers (and other swords) which were designed for their own forms of swordsmanship. A talwar was hardly designed for sword to sword combat (fencing).

* unsure of the spelling, some references say 'tulwar' rather than 'talwar'.

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 22nd May 2019 at 08:51 PM. Reason: line 4 grammar..removed redundant word
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Old 23rd May 2019, 02:10 PM   #18
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Discussed problemaric extensive to patas, as IN HERE...
"The restrictive handle (which British colonists point out was uncomfortably small for most European hands)!"
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Old 23rd May 2019, 03:26 PM   #19
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I think this subject can be discussed well into 2025 - or longer.
A friend of Indian origin once showed me a bazu-band, and when I tried it on, and tried to close it I couldn't, but he could. I am 1.9 m and he is about the same size.

So let us conclude, that from the katar and tulwar hilts we have, the Indians at the time (over several centuries) must have had slimmer hands than we have to day.
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Old 23rd May 2019, 04:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
I think this subject can be discussed well into 2025 - or longer.
A friend of Indian origin once showed me a bazu-band, and when I tried it on, and tried to close it I couldn't, but he could. I am 1.9 m and he is about the same size.

So let us conclude, that from the katar and tulwar hilts we have, the Indians at the time (over several centuries) must have had slimmer hands than we have to day.


Well called Jens, it seems the hand size thing with Indian men has cycled through about every ten years here, so perhaps then or later we'll see it again here.
It would seem the Portuguese, of course, were the first to notice that Indian grip size (thus Indian hand size) was smaller (or narrower, or less wide, or slimmer, whatever the case 'at hand )than theirs, and the British later concurred as they made the same observation.

Regardless, I think that we can agree that a good degree of men in the Sub Continent, particularly in earlier times, were of smaller stature and physique which may account for the smaller grip size in certain of their edged weapons.
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Old 23rd May 2019, 08:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... I think that we can agree that a good degree of men in the Sub Continent, particularly in earlier times, were of smaller stature and physique which may account for the smaller grip size in certain of their edged weapons.

As well as you may be a shorty and have large hands ... or vice versa.
And if i digress ...
A Sub Continent, well said; most probably each of the three basic ethnic groups (Dravidians, Mongols and Caucasians) have different anatomic (and bone structure) particularities. We are talking about 1,3 billion people, talking over 780 languages, from which only 22 have constitutional protection ... while over 196 are risking extinction.
Fascinating ... worth to bring back such greatness every now and then .

(A water color from the Codice Casanatense, by a Portuguese unmamed author of the XVI century)

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Old 24th May 2019, 03:26 AM   #22
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Mention has been made here regarding variation in stature over the years and this has also been discussed from memory on this Forum before. As an example, if one was to try to fit into a military uniform of the the 19th century, it would likely be far to small, as our average height and build has changed. The same is likely to apply to grips of weapons, so how does one establish if the subject Katar is of "normal" size for the period, or made for a boy?
Attached is a link of research done in the UK which clearly shows how we have changed in average size over the centuries. http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2017-04-18...r-2000-years-0#
Stu
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Old 24th May 2019, 01:43 PM   #23
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Stu,
Curiously in a thread i recently submitted in the Euro forum, that implied men's stature, i have (equally) shown a chart showing Brits evolution but, may i dare say, is not the same thing as the one exploited here. The (upward) growth of men, whether varying within their ethnicity in different parts of the globe, from the Maasai to the Mbuti, is one thing, whereas their body (bone, shape) structure is another. One might be tall(er), but still have slim hands; even unproportionally, to the eyes of other races.
Thus may one say that, independently from body general mass, thin or large hands are a genetic typicality, like any other particularities ?

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Old 24th May 2019, 03:24 PM   #24
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We can go on with this discussion for a very long time, but the fact is, that the katars/tulwars have the grip size they have - like it or not.
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Old 24th May 2019, 06:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
We can go on with this discussion for a very long time, but the fact is, that the katars/tulwars have the grip size they have - like it or not.



True, the discussion can go on a long time, but however specious it might seem it is good to see participants coming in with viable and supported observations on the topic of hand size, which was included in the original post here.

As has been mentioned, the size of sword grips typically with regard to Indian weapons, has been reviewed on numerous occasions, however these instances typically did not result in any serious investigation of note (in my opinion).

I always value these investigative discussions here as some great perspective can come out of them. Many collectors and members have ajendas which may not include discussing these kinds of aspects of arms study. I always do because I invariably learn from the input from others, as well as my own research which is prompted by the topic.

With that I would thank you for your always valuable contributions along with the others here which have given me, and I hope others, much better understanding of the circumstances plausibly connected to these size anomalies in arms.
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Old 24th May 2019, 07:30 PM   #26
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This may be of some interest if watched in entirety.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz8...c&index=91&t=0s


Regards,
Norman.
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Old 24th May 2019, 10:06 PM   #27
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Thank you Norman, that really is a fascinating talk, and this guy is pretty good. He always well explains things and I like the way he uses actual examples of weapons as he describes how they were used.

I think one of the most salient points he brings up, and most pertinent to the hilt size issue, is the notion of one finger 'outside' the grip area. While this has often been contested, it seems most logical and that it is supported by evidence (or suggestion in artwork) which has been noted by many researchers.

With the tulwar, it is noted that the forefinger was wrapped around the guard quillon, and in describing the method of use of the tulwar, the disc pommel is also an element of the arm position dictating the position of the arm in the strike and cut.
While many suggest that the forefinger would be threatened by the sword of the opponent in parry, it is remembered that the shield was used to parry in Indian swordsmanship. The idea of the forefinger around the quillon was to strengthen the integrity of the strike and cut at impact.

The extending of forefinger around quillon in the case of European swordsmanship and the rapier, while similar, really does not apply to the case of same with Indian tulwar in my opinion.

Returning to the question of 'narrow' hilt on katar of the topic here, in the video linked by Norman, the speaker notes that the grip of the weapon in such narrow hilts could be accommodated by extending the 'pinky' finger outside the grip in similar manner as that mentioned on tulwar.

This would seem a viable solution, however it would seem a weapon that was specifically made for an individual would be made to be of adequate size for the entire hand. It seemed worthy of note here that the finger extension might be considered, even if tenuously.
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Old 25th May 2019, 09:53 AM   #28
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What a coincidence; i spotted the link shown by Norman this morning.
Now, could it be my poor English or my poor hear ...
Do i understand from you Jim that, the guy in the video is suggesting that, the resource to place one finger outside the grip in has an intended purpose, that not the alternative for a 'regular' size hand to be able to hold an (too) narrow hilted the weapon ?
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Old 25th May 2019, 01:06 PM   #29
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Fernando, it was my impression that your English is better than mine, but we seem to be on the same level.
We have had this discussion years ago, and at the time I wrote, that if the Indians had used the forefinger aroundd the quillon, there would have been a finger protection.
Another thing is, that some blades have a ricasso, while others dont have one, so the blade is sharp to the hilt.
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Old 25th May 2019, 04:24 PM   #30
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Never in the past or even now in authentic Indian martial arts there are not any fingers outside the grip. The ricasso is only for keeping by second hand in the case when it is necessary to strengthen the blow - then two or three fingers of second hand are out of the handle and overlap the ricasso.
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