Gold Overlaid Matching Tulwar & Katar with Watered Steel Blades, & Scabbards
circa 1840 (possibly earlier)
length (tulwar): 94cm, length (katar): 41cm
This katar and tulwar are a pair – both have watered steel blades and an identical gold overlay pattern on their hilts/handle. The gold overlay is in an Ottoman-influenced Mughal stylised carnation motif. Both are designed to be worn together as part of a courtly costume, in this case most probably for a Sikh prince. The tulwar is gripped in the hand and the katar is worn through the belt. (See Crill & Jariwala, 2010, p. 131 for an excellent illustration on how a matching katar and tulwar were worn, in this case by Maharana Karan Singh of Melwar, probably in the nineteenth century.)
The tulwar has a baluster-form grip. The pommel disc is decorated with gold overlay to the top and the underneath. The top is in a slight dish form with a raised central area leading to a dome and then a spherical finial all with gold overlay. The quillon ends of the hilt are similarly embellished in gold with carnation flower heads.
The tulwar has a straight, fluted blade that is 81cm long. The katar blade is long and angular with a prominent central ridge to both sides. It is fullered with a swollen tip. Both blades have watered steel patterning.
The katar has a double grip and the outer handles are slightly convex to the hand. It has the remainder of some devanagari script in overlaid gold along the sides and inside of the guard of the hilt. (There is some staining to the felt and the chape has some losses.)
Both have scabbards that comprise velvet stretched over thin wooden interiors. The scabbard for the tulwar is in red felt with gold ribbon embellishment and a silver chape. The cover for the katar is in blue felt and is most probably a later replacement.
The tulwar is a type of Indian sabre or shamshir, whereas katars or punch daggers were designed to pierce chain mail.
Crill, R., & K. Jariwala, The Indian Portrait 1560-1860, National Portrait Gallery, 2010.
Inventory no.: 984