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Old 5th June 2019, 01:36 PM   #8
Jim McDougall
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Default Curved 'katar' (jamadhar)

While this thread was not intended to address the ever contentious 'name game' which ever plagues any serious student of arms study, the Indian 'katar' dagger serves as the perfect analogy, as Jens well illustrates.

As often noted on these pages, the use of the term katar to describe these transverse grip daggers was apparently inadvertently transposed by Egerton (1880) to describe these, when in actuality they were termed 'jamadhar'. This is pointed out by Pant (1980).

As noted, it seems Egerton also used a number of compounded descriptive terms for variations of 'jamadhar' with unusual features, such as multiple blades, or points actually as the blades are cut to create them.

Pant, in his quest to use descriptive terminology to classify Indian weaponry, has in many cases followed suit by compounding the weapon form term with qualifying descriptive terms. While it seems many of these as well as other terms in other weapons may be soundly applied based on his research, many such as the classifications of tulwar hilts for example, seem arbitrarily placed.

Returning to 'jamadhars' (katars) for example, on p.171, Pant illustrates one which has a curious spear (or arrow) point, which seems odd for a dagger.
He does not list any particular name or term for this anomaly, however on p.51. he describes a khanda with this kind of tip (like an arrowhead or lance) as a 'shulagra' (presumably based on shula (=lance). He further compounds the term using places other examples are known added to the shulagra term.

This 'system' of creating compounded terms as well as seemingly arbitrarily placed terms on weapon variations creates a climate of confusion in attempting to determine classifications which appear separate, but in reality are simply variations of certain weapon forms.

These kinds of creative terminology, along with simple transposing or semantics, have unintentionally led to the classification dilemmas and conundrums arms researchers constantly face in study of ethnographic arms.

Having said all this, with regard to the curved katar, this apparently rarely used type blade, while mentioned in Pant (p.170, examples 482, 498. 527) does not seem to warrant a descriptive term.

I have known Jens Nordlund for nearly 20 years, and in that time, have had the opportunity to follow along in his specialized study of the katar, and his amazing collecting of them. I am unaware of anyone with the knowledge on this weapon form that parallels his. If Jens does not know a term for this apparent anomaly on the katar, then I would say, one does not exist.

It is my impression that the katar (again using the common parlance term) was a primarily thrusting weapon. The idea of having these with multiple points or blades is baffling, unless these were intended as perhaps left hand daggers to ensnare opponents blades (as with the spring loaded expanding blades).

The idea of a katar with a curved blade seems equally puzzling, unless it was intended for slashing cuts. Rajputs had chilanum like daggers with jambia like curved blades called khapwah (Elgood, 2004, 16.2, p.163), and as the katar was known of course in the north, possibly curved blades were simply mounted as per personal preference. A convention of curved blade use does not seem to be the case, and likely more a one off anomaly.
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