South-indian-silver-gilt-katar
This item has been sold.
Overall length

50.2 cm

Blade length

30.5 cm 

(tip to "shoulders" hilt)

Blade thickness

Base 4 mm

Middle 4 mm

5 cm from top 3.5 mm

Tip 3.8 mm

Blade width

Base 45.5 mm

Middle 39 mm

5 cm from tip 28 mm

Weight

865 grams

Point of balance

At base of blade

Materials

Iron, steel, silver, gold

Dating

17th century

Origin

South India

Provenance

European antique art market

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Description

A south Indian katar of large proportions. These often have imported blades, and at first glance, this seems like one. However the laminated forged blade is of a lenticular cross-section with a subtle center ridge, and ever so slight swelling at the tip. Especially that last trait puts its manufacture firmly within India.

 

Katar sizes compared

This katar compared to some others I had in stock.
It towers above all others with its slightly over 50cm length.

 

Hilt

The iron hilt is of typical form; a cupped base holds two langets to which the blade is riveted. The base has sharp shoulders, to which the sidebars connect. The two grip bars have thickenings in the middle, and moving turban-shaped elements between them. All these design features are typical for Southern Indian work of the 17th century.

The hilt relies primarily on elegant geometry for its appeal. None of the surfaces are flat, but chiseled with ridges and slightly convex "flats". The cusped elements at the ends of the sidebars are common motifs in early Hindu architecture, also seen on temple archways like those of the Lotus Mahal, a residence for royal women of the Vijayanagara Empire (1336–1646).

 

Cusped arch

Cusped arches of the Lotus Mahal.
Compare to the ornamental chiseling at the ends of the sidebars.

 

After chiseling to shape, the entire surface of this katar was covered with thick silver overlay, which in turn was fire-gilt, a very south Indian surface treatment that is frequently found on the better quality arms from this region.

Silver gilt

 

Condition

Original condition throughout, no restorations or repairs. Blade in very good shape for age. Some losses to the silver gilt surface treatment. See photos.

 

Conclusion

An impressive example of its type. I'm personally quite fond of this type of South Indian katar. They combine complexity of design with skill of execution, while exhibiting a kind of elegant restraint.

Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt
Large 17th century south Indian katar with silver gilt hilt

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Currently available:

Belonging to a group of royal katar made by Khemau under Maharao Ram Singh.

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