Place of Origin: Rajasthan, India
Date: 19th Century
Overall: 430mm (17 inches)
Status: Not Available
This katar has sacred Hindu verses decorating its hilt, applied generously in gold on a cross-hatched, blackened surface. The calligraphy is neatly arranged: wrapping expertly around the handgrips and rendered in short, regular lines on the side bars. This text is a Sanskrit stotra known as the Rāma- rakṣā-stotra, attributed to Budhakauśika Ṛṣi. It is a hymn of praise, and used as a prayer for protection to Lord Rama. Like many stotra, it has a distinctly tantric character, its recitation often meant to be coupled with breathing practices, visualisations and the wearing of talismans—making it ideal for its application on this dagger, which would have been an important object of devotion.
The short blade is made of Indian crystalline wootz Damascus, with a pronounced central rib and a swollen, armour-piercing tip. The original wooden scabbard still retains its red silk velvet covering, though it is now worn and faded by age. The silver chape is also original.
A similarly decorated hilt is illustrated for us by Hendley1 and shown as being inscribed with Shakti stotra—or lines in praise of the Devi. Another is in the new publication by Robert Elgood: Rajput Arms & Armour—the Rathores & their Armoury at Jodhpur Fort, page 662.
1 Hendley, Damascening on Steel or Iron, as practiced in India, 1892, plate 16