Early sword katar
Overall length

105.4 cm

Blade length

91.3 cm

Blade thickness

Ahead of langets 4.4 mm

Center 4.5 mm

5 cm from tip 2.5 mm

Blade width

Ahead of langets 42 mm

Center 39.5 mm

5 cm from tip 30 mm

Weight

1393 grams

Point of balance

21 cm from hilt

Materials

Iron, steel

Origin

South India

Dating

16th - 17th century

Provenance

From a Canadian private collector

Price €2750, -

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Description

This type of weapon may be seen as a predecessor of the pata sword with fully enclosed hilt. It is a variation of the hooded Vijayanagara katar, but now fitted with a full-length blade.

The long, European blade is of lenticular cross-section, tri-fullered. Heavy, strong, and very stiff for its thickness. It is in rather good shape for its age, with some staining but very little pitting, and its contours are mainly intact.

 

Marked blade

Two "man in the moon" stamps are on either side of the blade. Such stamps are often seen on European-inspired blades, often seen mounted as Tuareg kashkara swords.

Man in the moon stamps on pata blade

 

"The type never varies, though of course the blades differ greatly in quality and form, ranging from old Toledo steels with the mark " Carlos V" on them to an iron object called a "Masri" blade made in the north. Some are elaborately ornamented, but the most prized are plain with two or three slight canellations down the middle; they are probably of European manufacture. The commonest Masri blades bear two opposed crescent "men in the moon" faces as their mark; another cheap variety has a small couchant lion. The Tuareg prizes his sword as his most valued possession and many, like Ahodu, speak with pride of a blade handed down in their families for generations."

Lord Rennell of Rodd; People of the Veil
Being an Account of the Habits, Organization and History of the wandering Tuareg Tribes 
which inhabit the Mountains of Air or Asben in the Central Sahara. 
Anthropological Publications, Oosterhout, the Netherlands. 1970. Page 233. 

 

This is the first time I've seen such "man in the moon" stamps on a blade mounted on a South Indian weapon. Usually, European blades are used for this, and Solingen, Toledo, and those of other major production centers are often encountered. It is possible that the kashkara "man in the moon" swords are copies of earlier European swords, and this is an original of such blades.

 

Hilt

The sword is held by the hilt between two long, narrow langets to which it is secured with three rivets. It also has a short tang that protrudes through the base plate and is peened on the other side.

The hilt is in the style of a South Indian katar, mainly those associated with the Vijayanagara empire. The front panel is in the shape of an Islamic arch; its apex forms a ridge on the sail-like hand guard that terminates in a monster's head. The hilt is further reinforced with a cage-like construction, with two bars on either side. Together they form the body of the monster on top. The monster looks back towards a bud-shaped final with spiral grooves on its back. The sidebars are relatively short but wide, and the two grip bars have a moderate swelling in the center.

The Islamic-style arched base, and the moderate swelling in the grip bars all suggest a late 1500s to early 1600s date.

 

Conclusion

A very rare piece with one of the largest, most impressive blades I've seen on them. Blades on South Indian arms are often European imports, mainly from Germany, Spain and Italy. This is my first time seeing a seemingly African-made blade on one. It may have come to India through Arab traders.

Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar
Hooded sword katar

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