Its hilt overlaid with thick silver, then fire-gilt.
Base 4.5 mm
Reinforced tip 7 mm
Base 48 mm
At thickened tip 23 mm
At blade/hilt junction
Iron, steel, gold, rubies, diamond, wood, textile, silver
Early 19th century
U.K. based dealer and collector
Anything similar for sale?
A smaller-sized katar with strog, triangular blade with a reinforced tip. It has a center panel with a raised "tree of life", and bright burnished edges. At the base of the blade are chiseled and pierced with two mythical animals, yali.
The base of the hilt is like the profile of an open book, and the handle bars with swollen centers have floral ornaments in between. These characteristics are typical for work done in Bundi, Sirohi, and Delhi and are possibly associated with the Chauhan Rajputs who ruled Bundi and Sirohi and had a strong presence in Delhi.
The hilt and chiseled yali are decorated with gold overlay. The work on the hilt is floral in nature and thickly applied. The exposed steel in-between the decorations usually indicates the hilt is wootz. In the present condition, no pattern is showing.
Both side bars are decorated with two rubies and one diamond on either side, making a total of four diamonds and eight rubies. They are set in kundan (gold).
It comes with an old scabbard, its fabric covering largely lost. It has a silver endpiece. It is not much, but nice to have. Consider it a free extra.
Dating / attribution
Hendley illustrates a katar that is clearly of the same school, but unfortunately, no dating or origin is mentioned.1
"The steel dagger is of graceful form,
handsomely carved with quaint figures,
which are enriched sparingly and tastefully
Two katar with the "open book" base and floral ornaments between the grip bars are illustrated in Hendley, 1888.2
Plate XL. -Five Daggers. Katar.-
(1) Blade with three ribs; sheath, wood covered with leather and velvet. Made at Delhi in 1805.
Total cost, Rs. 50; cost of dagger, Rs. 20; gold, Rs. 30. Length 15¼ inches.
(2) Blade with a central and side ribs. Black embossed leather sheath. Made at Burhanpur in 1853.
Total cost, Rs. 40; steel, Rs. 5; gold, Rs. 25; labour, Rs. 10. Length 16 inches.
(3) Blade, steel with three ridges, of which the center is like a cypress tree. Sheath, wood covered with scarlet velvet and a gold band. Made at Boondi in 1803 by Thakursidas, an Ulwar servant.
Total cost, Rs. 200; steel, Rs. 50; gold, Rs. 100; labour Rs. 50. Length 18⅛ inches.
(4) Blade, steel with a central ridge, at the top of which is a gilded ornament. The bars and side guards of this, as well as the other daggers, are damascened in gold. Sheath, wood covered with scarlet velvet and gold lace. Made at Boondi in 1807.
Total cost, Rs. 50; steel, Rs. 5; gold, Rs. 30; labour, Rs. 15. Length 16½ inches.
(5) Blade Ispahan steel with one central rib and serrated edges. Bars and side bars damascened with a bold floral pattern. Sheath, wood covered with scarlet velvet, with a purple piece at the top. Made at Delhi in 1807.
Total cost, Rs 200; steel Rs. 40; gold Rs. 100; labour, Rs 60. Length 15½ inches."
A fine north Indian katar of a type that was produced in Bundi and Delhi in the early 19th century. The Bundi-made katar tend to have a small disc or ball that connects the two handle bars, and on this one, they are merely touching. Because of this, I err towards a Delhi origin on this katar.
1. Thomas Holbein Hendley; Damascening on steel or iron as practiced in India. W. Griggs & Sons, Ltd. London 1892.
2. Thomas Holbein Hendley; Ulwar and its Art treasures. W. Griggs & Sons, Ltd. London 1888. Plate XL.
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All the designs being true inlay, with almost no losses.
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