Jaam-Dhar (Demons Tooth) katar
Place of Origin: Deccan (South India)
Overall length: 460mm
Blade length: 280mm
An important 17th century Indian katar punch dagger from the Deccan plateau, possibly Golkonda.
This is the earliest example currently known of a rare form of Indian katar known from a small and unified group which is represented in several notable collections. These include No. 133 in Islamic Arms & Armour from Danish private Collections, dated to the early 18th Century, with the blade arabesque taking the form of Islamic (Shi’ite) calligraphy, probably Deccani in origin, and with features clearly related to the katar published here.
Another example is published by Ricketts & Missillier, No.226, and dated by the authors to the 19th century. It is decorated with enamel and described as coming from Lucknow. Elgood 2004, interestingly points out the relationship between Lucknow and Hyderabad, both being Shi’ite states and linked by marriage.
A third and fourth example are published by Elgood 2004, p.162 (no.15.39) and Egerton (no.388), from Deccan and Lucknow respectively. Both are late 17th or early 18th Century and again take influence from the katar shown.
The heavy hilt is made from iron with deep and intricate piercing and is applied with thick silver sheet overall. The side bars, flaring towards the tip, terminate with small tri-lobate pommels. The piercing provides floral hints to an otherwise architectural design. The very unusual grip has zoomorphic elements, with stylised elephants or makara. The piercing is particularly impressive here due to the cross grip being over 10mm thick.
The architectural theme continues into the lower bar which connects to the blade; this has five cusp-shaped arches forming an arcade, which Elgood3 notes is similar to Muslim architecture, which began to be adopted by the Hindu court in the Royal centre at Hampi in the mid-16th Century.
The attractive and desirable curved blade is known as a ‘Jaam-Dhar’, literally ‘demon’s tooth’, elegantly sweeping to a sharp point, it is capable of piercing armour due to the swollen diamond-section tip. The base of the blade has an intricate arabesque motif chiselled into the surface; it joins the central spine which continues unbroken down the central panel terminating in a simple floral icon.