Katar (dagger)

The katar or katara,[1][2][3] is a type of push dagger from the Indian subcontinent.[4] The weapon is characterised by its H-shaped horizontal hand grip which results in the blade sitting above the user's knuckles. Unique to the Indian subcontinent, it is the most famous and characteristic of Indian daggers.[5] Ceremonial katars were also used in worship.[6]

Ornamental katar
Ornamented katar
Place of originIndia
Hilt typeHorizontal


Having originated in south India, the weapon's earliest name-form was likely the Tamil kaţţāri (கட்டாரி). It is alternatively known in Tamil as kuttuvāḷ (குத்துவாள்) which means "stabbing blade". This was adapted into Sanskrit as kaţāra (कट्टार) or kaţārī. Due to the schwa deletion in Indo-Aryan languages however, the word often came to be rendered as "katar" in modern Hindi and by extension in colonial transliterations.

Other regional names for the weapon include kaṭhāri (ಕಠಾರಿ) in Kannada, kaţāra (കട്ടാര) in Malayalam, kaṭyāra (कट्यार) in Marathi, kaṭār (ਕਟਾਰ) in Panjabi, and kaṭāra (कटार) or kaṭāri in Hindi.


The katar was created in India,[7] its earliest forms being closely associated with the 14th-century Vijayanagara Empire.[5] It may have originated with the mustika, a method of holding a dagger between the middle and index finger[8] still used in gatka today. A specific type of dagger might have been designed for this, as maustika is described vaguely as a "fist dagger" in the arsenal list of Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak.[8] One of the most famous groups of early katar come from the Thanjavur Nayak kingdom of the 17th century.[4][9][5][10] Katar dating back to this period often had a leaf- or shell-like knucklebow curving up from the top of the blade to protect the back of the hand.[8] This form is today sometimes called a "hooded katara" but the knuckleguard was discarded altogether by the later half of the 17th century.[11] As the weapon spread throughout the region it became something of a status symbol, much like the Southeast Asian kris or the Japanese katana. Princes and nobles were often portrayed wearing a katar at their side. This was not only a precaution for self-defense, but it was also meant to show their wealth and position. Upper-class Rajputs and Mughals would even hunt tigers with a pair of katar. For a hunter to kill a tiger with such a short-range weapon was considered the surest sign of bravery and martial skill.[5]

Modern katar designs may include single-shot pistols built into either side of the weapon. In the 18th century, some traditional katar were refurbished with this innovation. The pistols are meant to deal the killing blow after the weapon has been thrust into the enemy. The katar ceased to be in common use by the 19th century, though they were still forged for decorative purposes. During the 18th and 19th century, a distinctive group of katar were produced at Bundi in Rajasthan. They were ornately crafted and their hilts were covered in gold foil. These katar were shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Crystal Palace, London. Since then, the weapon has sometimes been mistakenly referred to in English as a "Bundi dagger".


The basic katar has a short, wide, triangular blade. Its peculiarity lies in the handle which is made up of two parallel bars connected by two or more cross-pieces, one of which is at the end of the side bars and is fastened to the blade. The remainder forms the handle which is at right angle to the blade. Some handles have long arms extending across the length of the user's forearm. The handle is generally of all-steel construction and is forged in one piece together with the blade.

The blade, typically measuring 30–90 cm (12–35 in) in length, is usually cut with a number of fullers. Most katar have straight blades, but in south India they are commonly wavy.[5] South Indian blades are often made broad at the hilt and taper in straight lines to the point, and elaborately ribbed by grooves parallel to the edges. Occasionally the blades are slightly curved, making them suited for slashing attacks. Some blades are forked into two points, which would later develop into the scissors katar.

The force of a katar thrust could be so great that many blades were thickened at the point to prevent them from bending or breaking. This also strengthened their use against mail. All katar with thickened tips are commonly described as "armour-piercing", but it is likely that only narrow and slender blades made this function possible. Such a weapon was capable of piercing textile, mail, and even plate armor. This quality was preferred for warfare, where an opponent was more likely to be armor-clad, as opposed to single combat.

The Indian nobility often wore ornamental katar as a symbol of their social status. The hilts may be covered in enamel, gems, or gold foil. Similarly, figures and scenes were chiselled onto the blade. Sheaths, generally made from watered steel, were sometimes pierced with decorative designs. The heat and moisture of India's climate made steel an unsuitable material for a dagger sheath, so they were covered in fabric such as velvet or silk. Some katar served as a sheath to fit one or two smaller ones inside.


Because the katar's blade is in line with the user's arm, the basic attack is a direct thrust identical to a punch, although it could also be used for slashing. This design allows the fighter to put their whole weight into a thrust. Typical targets include the head and upper body, similar to boxing. The sides of the handle could be used for blocking but it otherwise has little defensive capability. As such, the wielder must be agile enough to dodge the opponent's attacks and strike quickly, made possible because of the weapon's light weight and small size. Indian martial arts in general make extensive use of agility and acrobatic maneuvers. As far back as the 16th century, there was at least one fighting style which focused on fighting with a pair of katar, one in each hand.[5]

Aside from the basic straight thrust, other techniques include the reverse flipped pierce, inwards side slashing, outwards side slashing, cobra coiled thrust, and tiger claw pierce performed by jumping towards the opponent.

See also


  1. ^ Dick Luijendijk (2008). Kalarippayat: The structure and essence of an Indian martial art. Lulu.
  2. ^ Max Klimburg (1999). The Kafirs of the Hindu Kush: Art and Society of the Waigal and Ashkun Kafirs. Franz Steiner Verlag.
  3. ^ Judith Pfeiffer and Sholeh Alysia Quinn (2006). History and Historiography of Post-Mongol Central Asia and the Middle East. Harrassowitz Verlag.
  4. ^ a b DK (2012-10-01). The Military History Book. Dorling Kindersley Limited. ISBN 9781409328964.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Dr Tobias Capwell (2009). The World Encyclopedia Of Knives, Daggers And Bayonets. Anness Publishing.
  6. ^ Nityasumaṅgalī: devadasi tradition in South India.
  7. ^ O'Bryan, John (2013-04-23). A History of Weapons: Crossbows, Caltrops, Catapults & Lots of Other Things that Can Seriously Mess You Up. Chronicle Books. ISBN 9781452124209.
  8. ^ a b c Swords And Hilt Weapons. Prion. 2012. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-85375-882-9.
  9. ^ Stone, George Cameron (1999-01-01). Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times. Courier Corporation. ISBN 9780486407265.
  10. ^ Michell, George (1995-01-01). Architecture and Art of Southern India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521441100.
  11. ^ Dr Tobias Capwell (2009). The World Encyclopedia Of Knives, Daggers And Bayonets. Anness Publishing. p. 86.

Björn-Uwe Abels, A contribution to the development of the Indian punch-dagger, called Katar or Jamdhar, Waffen- und Kostümkunde 2012, 145–158 (in German with an English summary).


An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" [feminine]) or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch, service branch or armed service of a nation or state. It may also include aviation assets by possessing an army aviation component. In certain states, the term army refers to the entire armed forces (e.g., People's Liberation Army). Within a national military force, the word army may also mean a field army.

In several countries, the army is officially called the Land Army to differentiate it from an air force called the Air Army, notably France. In such countries, the word "army" on its own retains its connotation of a land force in common usage. The current largest army in the world, by number of active troops, is the People's Liberation Army Ground Force of China with 1,600,000 active troops and 510,000 reserve personnel followed by the Indian Army with 1,129,000 active troops and 960,000 reserve personnel.

By convention, irregular military is understood in contrast to regular armies which grew slowly from personal bodyguards or elite militia. Regular in this case refers to standardized doctrines, uniforms, organizations, etc. Regular military can also refer to full-time status (standing army), versus reserve or part-time personnel. Other distinctions may separate statutory forces (established under laws such as the National Defence Act), from de facto "non-statutory" forces such as some guerrilla and revolutionary armies. Armies may also be expeditionary (designed for overseas or international deployment) or fencible (designed for – or restricted to – homeland defence)


Katar may refer to:

Katar, India

Katar (dagger)

List of Voltron characters

This is a list of characters from the Voltron series.

List of premodern combat weapons

This is a list of historical pre-modern weapons grouped according to their uses, with rough classes set aside for very similar weapons. Some weapons may fit more than one category (e.g. the spear may be used either as weapon]] or as a projectile), and the earliest gunpowder weapons which fit within the period are also included.


The Nihang (Punjabi: ਨਿਹੰਗ) are an armed Sikh warrior order originating in the Indian subcontinent. They are also referred to as Akali (lit. "the immortals"). Nihang are believed to have originated either from Fateh Singh and the attire he wore or from the "Akal Sena" (lit. Army of the Immortal) started by Guru Hargobind. Early Sikh military history was dominated by the Nihang, known for their victories where they were heavily outnumbered. Traditionally known for their bravery and ruthlessness in the battlefield, the Nihang once formed the irregular guerrilla squads of the armed forces of the Sikh Empire, the Sikh Khalsa Army.

Nishan Sahib

The Nishan Sahib is a Sikh triangular flag made of cotton or silk cloth, with a tassel at its end. The word, Nishan means symbol, and the flag is hoisted on a tall flagpole, outside most Gurdwaras. The flagpole itself, covered with fabric, ends with a two-edged dagger (khanda) on top. The emblem on the flag is also known as Khanda, which depicts a double-edged sword called a khanda (☬) in the centre, a chakkar which is circular, and flanked by two single-edged swords, or kirpans.

Traditional symbol of the Khalsa Panth (corps of initiated Sikhs), the Nishan Sahib can be seen from far away, signifying the presence of Khalsa in the neighbourhood. It is taken down every Baisakhi (harvest festival, mid-April in the Gregorian calendar), and replaced with a fresh flag, and the flagpole refurbished.

Push dagger

A push dagger (alternately known as: push knife, gimlet knife, fist knife, Stoßdolch (German), push dirk, T-handled knife or punch dagger) is a short-bladed dagger with a "T" handle designed to be grasped in the hand so that the blade protrudes from the front of one's fist, typically between the index and middle finger. Over the centuries, the push dagger has gone up and down in popularity as a close-combat weapon for civilians and selected military forces.The sale and possession (or possession in public) of a push dagger with blade perpendicular to the handle is prohibited in some countries, such as the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Canada though if the edge is parallel to the handle they are legal. The laws of many nations and several U.S. states and cities prohibit or criminalize to some degree the purchase, possession, or sale of push daggers or knuckle knives.


Thuggee (UK: , US: ; Hindi: ठग्गी ṭhaggī; Urdu: ٹھگ‎; Nepali: ठगी ṭhagī; Sanskrit: स्थग sthaga; Marathi: ठक; Odia: ଠକ thaka; Sindhi: ٺوڳي، ٺڳ‎; Kannada: ಠಕ್ಕ thakka; Bengali: ঠগি ṭhogī; Punjabi: ਠੱਗੀ ṭhagee ) refers to the acts of Thugs, an organised gang of professional robbers and murderers. The English language word thug traces its roots to the Hindi ठग (ṭhag), which means 'swindler' or 'deceiver'. Related words are the verb thugna ('to deceive'), from the Sanskrit स्थग (sthaga 'cunning, sly, fraudulent') and स्थगति (sthagati, 'he conceals'). This term, describing the murder and robbery of travellers, is popular in the northern parts of Indian subcontinent and particularly India.

Thugs are said to have travelled in groups across the Indian sub-continent. There were numerous traditions about their origin. One recorded by D. F. McLeod traced it to seven Muslim tribes formed from those who fled Delhi after murdering a physician. Another traced it to seven great Muslim families who fled after murdering a favoured slave of Akbar. These original Muslim Thugs spread Thuggee amongst Rajputs, Hindus, Lodhis and Ahirs. According to other traditions by Thugs, they were Kanjars or descended from those who worked in the Mughal camps. Others have blamed the rise of Thugs on the disbanding of armies in employment of Indian rulers after the British conquest.

Thugs are said to have operated as gangs of highway robbers, tricking and later strangling their victims.To take advantage of their victims, the thugs would join travellers and gain their confidence; this would allow them to surprise and strangle the travellers with a handkerchief or noose. They would then rob and bury their victims. This led to the thugs being called Phansigar (English: "using a noose"), a term more commonly used in southern India. During the 1830s, the thugs were targeted for eradication by the Governor-General of India, Lord William Bentinck, and his chief captain, William Henry Sleeman.

Contemporary scholarship is increasingly skeptical of the "thuggee" concept, and has questioned the existence of such a phenomenon, which has led historians to describe "thuggee" as the invention of the British colonial regime.

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