Secret Weapon of Indian Kings – Bagh Nakh aka Tiger Claws

Hey guys, today we are going to look at a very interesting Indian weapon called Bagh Nakh which means Tiger’s Claws. What you see here is an original antique piece, this Tiger Claws was in use more than 100 years ago. It has 5 claws and 2 rings, so you can basically slide the rings on your fingers and keep the claws within your palm.  Here is a demonstration of how it works, I am holding a cardboard, so it does not cut my body. It almost looks like he is slapping me with his bare hands, but he is in fact making a deep wound on my body. It does

not seem like an effective weapon, but when you look at the card board, you realize that it can cause serious damage. In fact, we can even see the tear marks come out on the other side of the card board. So, it is a deadly weapon, and like I said this is an antique piece with blunted tips, so imagine using a brand new Bagh Nakh, this could be fatal.

Like I told you, the name Bagh nakh means Tiger Claws. Why the name Tiger Claws? Because Tigers have retractable claws, they are capable of pulling in or pulling out their claws at will. If you look at the anatomy of a tiger paw, it is quite interesting, because the claws, which are about 3 to 4 inches long,  are actually invisible most of the time. Look, I mean this looks quite harmless, but the sharp claws only come out when the Tiger wants to attack you.. This is why this weapon is called Tiger Claws because you can wear this weapon in your hand, and no one will know about it, until you attack them.

This weapon would be perfect for a Ninja. A Ninja is typically a covert agent, who engages in surprise attacks and deception. The Bagh Nakh has actually become a modern day weapon of choice for Ninjas. We can find simplified Tiger Claws sold on and other websites for Ninjas. The Tiger Claws use and deception has captured the imagination of the western world, which is why it was featured on TV shows like Forged in Fire.

All this sounds pretty fancy, but can the Tiger Claws really be used as an efficient Stealth weapon?  Yes, and we have historical evidence of how this weapon changed Indian history.  In 1659, about 360 years ago, two great Kings were having a meeitng in order to settle things diplomatically. One was Shivaji and the other was Afzal Khan, but it was well known that Afzal Khan had the practice of calling other kings for diplomatic talks, and would then assassinate them during the meeting. King Shivaji, went to the meeting pretending to be completely unarmed, but had the Tiger Claws in his hand. Afzal Khan was a giant, he was 6 foot 7 inches tall and Shivaji was just 5 and a half feet tall. Afzal Khan embraced Shivaji and used a dagger to stab Shivaji, but to his surprise, he realized that Shivaji wore an armor underneath his clothes, which saved him. Shivaji immediately used the tiger claws and completely disemboweled Afzal Khan. Afzal Khan died due to heavy bleeding because of the Tiger claws. So yes, Tiger claws are very good stealth weapons and can be used effectively to attack and even kill an enemy.

One brilliant thing about Indian weapons is that many of them are designed based on nature, inspired by animals. Remember I showed you a weapon called Madu in a previous video, which is based on horns of black buck.

Tiger claws have several modifications as well. Some of them have knives attached to them, these knives are called Bichuwa, which means the Sting of a scorpion. Yes, they are modeled after the sting in the scorpion’s tail. Some of these Bichuwas are also foldable, so these type of weapons can be carried in complete stealth mode.  Of course, there are other designs of these tiger claws which are not for stealth mode at all. For example, this design is worn over the hands, and cannot be hidden at all.

Although Tiger Claws were used all over India, it was particularly used by Maratha kings, who wore them even during sleep. This weapon was perfect, because it is small, it can be concealed and it can give a fatal blow to the enemy.

When Europeans came to India, their social behavior made it impossible for Indians to use these Tiger Claws. British officers insisted on first having a hand shake with Indian Kings, making it impossible to have tiger claws hidden inside your palm. Before the arrival of Europeans, Indian kings would typically do a Namaste pose to each other, which was ideal for concealing the weapon and then do a surprise attack. But after Europeans came into the picture, Bagh Nakhs slowly started becoming obsolete and now, they are no longer used as weapons in India.

Praveen Mohan

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