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Kutch Chiselled Steel Punch Dagger or Katar

Kutch, North-West India
18th century

length: 33.7cm, width: 9cm, weight: 300g

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from the collection of Sir Christopher Ondaatje, UK.

This elegant, 18th century punch or push dagger (katar) has been made as a single piece from chiselled steel. The form, with its elegant handles or grip which flare outwards is typically Kutch in design – Kutch being an Islamic area above Bombay (Mumbai) in western India.

The elongated, triangular blade has been chiselled on both sides with multiple fullers. The blade comes to a tip or point that bulges slightly to give it extra strength.

The side bars of the grip are plain and not decorated; the elegance of this katar comes from its overall, simple, but refined form.

The two cross bars are of baluster form.

The katar has an overall fine patina and obvious age. There are no losses or repairs.

Traditionally, katars were used as a weapon to pierce through chain mail. They were worn by men in their waist bands.

This katar is from the collection of Sir Christopher Ondaatje. Ondaatje is of Sinhalese and Dutch ancestry and was born in Sri Lanka (or Ceylon as it was known) in 1933. A businessman, writer and Olympian, he is the older brother of author Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, among many works.


Elgood, R., Hindu Arms and Ritual: Arms and Armour from India 1400-1865, Eburon, 2004.

Hales, R., Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.

Stone, G.C., A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in all Countries and in all Times, first published in 1934, Jack Brussel, 1961.

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