Place of Origin: Coorg, South West India
Date: Mid 19th Century
Overall : 300mm (12 inches)
The pinchanagatti is the national dagger of the Coorg people, coming from a district that is now called Kodagu in the south-western Indian state of Karnataka. They are a proud martial Hindu race (Kshatriya) who traditionally resided in the Western Ghat mountain range as land-owning agriculturists. Coorgi men have a distinctive traditional costume which consists of a kupya (a knee-length, half-sleeved coat) over a full-sleeved white shirt. The pinchanagatti is tucked into a maroon and gold sash known as a chale. As the Coorgs consider the pinchanagatti synonymous with their family honour any examples on the Western market, or in Western collections, are rare indeed and would have been obtained with great difficulty.
This particular pinchanagatti has a broad, single-edged, cleaver-shaped blade that is clipped at the rear near the point and decorated with a row of eyelash marks below the spine. The silver handle is of characteristic form, with a bulbous pommel, gold pommel cap, three ornate rosettes, and three gold studs along the grip. The original wooden scabbard boasts applied gold bands and a silver locket and chape, the latter sweeping to conclude with a bud-shaped finial highlighted with gold. The scabbard is completed by a heavy-linked chain leading to a cone-shaped terminal with silver chains, tokens and translucent red beads. Two final chains capture a second terminal which this time is semi-circular and holds five small implements meant for personal hygiene (including a knife, a pair of tweezers, and an ear spoon).
A very fine example of a pinchanagatti is in the Royal Collection (Royal Collection Trust, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) and illustrated in the new book by Kajal Meghani Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875–6, page 128 (RCIN 11297.a-b).