Ancient Scissor Knife (Katar) – Weird Weapons of India

 

Hey guys, today we are going to look at an ancient Indian weapon called Katar . There are many interesting details about the origin and types of Katar. I met this gentleman called Jayesh Kumar Pandian who is a collector of antique weapons and he has an extraordinary collection of these Katars. The word Katar actually comes from Tamil language kattari, which means a dagger or a push knife.

These daggers are short and cannot be used for slashing, but they were used for stabbing people. One good thrust will send the dagger through the body and the edge will come out through the other end.  The main difference between most daggers and the Indian Katar is the H-shaped horizontal hand grip. When you hold this, you clench your fist as though you are ready to punch someone, and you make the exact motion like punching somebody. This design allows the fighter to put his whole weight into a thrust, and you can target the head or the upper body of the enemy. Since it is light and small, It is more like an extension of the fist than a dagger, and it seems more natural to attack and defend with a Katar.

A very interesting modification was made in later stages and this fancy weapon is called a Scissor Kattar.  You can see that that the blade is forked into two blades. And the hand grip has a lever, and when you  press the lever, the blades open up and there is a smaller blade inside. The idea is to stab someone and then when you press the lever, the blades will open up and tear the internal organs. But there was another deadly practice – on the tip of the inside blade, poison was smeared. So, when the Katar went inside someone’s body and the outer blades opened, the inner blade would come in direct contact with blood vessels and other organs, and, the poison would mix directly with the blood.

Remember, we are using an antique Kattar, which is at least a 100 years old. Imagine the damage a new weapon can create. Royal Katars were richly engraved and some even have gemstones placed on them. This one has tigers engraved on it, and even on the sides you can see this tiger chasing a deer. These figures have gold inlays on them. Now, some people claim that Katars were not native to India and were brought in during the last few centuries. Is this fabulous weapon really an ancient invention,  or was it just created a few centuries ago? To find the answer to this question, let us go to the ancient Srirangam temple, which is older than 2000 years. Here we can see ancient Indians using the Kattar in multiple sculptures.

It is quite fascinating to see that the design and stabbing style is still identical to what we see today. Some carvings even show the Kattar going into a man’s body and the edge coming out on the other side. Here, we can even see a fighting style which is focused on fighting with a pair of Katar, one in each hand. So, yes Kattar is in fact , an ancient weapon developed by Tamil people. There is an interesting story about how Katars were created. When the blades of long swords got broken, instead of throwing away the blade, they were modified and reused as Katars. Soldiers began using them as backup weapons.  The main advantage of a Katar is how it covers your knuckles and the wrist. The long handles on either side cover your hands and will protect them. There is a better version of this called the Patta Kattar or a Hooded Katar, which completely covers your hand. There is also another type called the Snake Kattar which has a curved, snake like  blade. Katars made of wood, were used during practice and training sessions.

Praveen Mohan

 

 

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