Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1685 Mughal ahadi
Subjectahadi heavy cavalryman
Culture: Mughal-Rajput
Setting: Great Mughal empire, Hindustan/Deccan late 16th-early 18thc
Object: daggers


* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p30
"The khanjar is the commonest type of dagger, found in a variety of forms across the Muslim world. It has a double-edged curved blade, and in India often has a reinforced point to give strength to enable the blade to be used against mail armour. Rock crystal, nephrite (jade) and other hardstones usually form the hilts of these daggers, and they are often carved in the form of animal's heads, and set with precious and semi-precious stones in gold. Dagger such as this are often seen in portraits of Mughal nobles."

* Arts of the Muslim knight 2008 p142
"In the Mughal period dagger blades, although of excellent quality, took second place to the lapidary and goldsmith's crafts.  This development represents the ultimate refinement of a Persian taste for ceremonial display, whose roots can be traced back to the Sasanian period.  One of the most popular forms was a hilt with a rounded curled pommel which may have originated in the Deccan in imitation of Safavid pistol-grips.  Dagger hilts of this type appear in miniature painting from the mid-seventeenth century, and shortly thereafter they seem to have become the most popular Mughal type."

* Welch 1985 p303 (discussing a Deccan dagger, early 17th century)
"'Khanjar' is an Arabic word used in the Islamic countries for different weapons. In Persia and India the name is applied to a dagger with a double-edged, slightly recurved blade and, usually, a pistol-grip hilt made from metal, ivory, or jade or some other hardstone. Jade hilts may be plain, carved, or set with jewels; fewer khanjars were made with ivory hilts, and they generally have a simple shape. Khanjars were commonly used in India from about 1600. Daggers with hilts of gold, silver, jade or ivory were worn at court or in ceremonies, not carried on the battlefield."

* Welch 1985 p271 (discussing a Mughal dagger ca. 1640)
"A thorough search through the miniatures of the Windsor Padshah-nama, the best source for weaponry at Shah Jahan's court, reveals no examples of this form of hilt, which first appears in the portraits of Aurangzeb.  The origin of the form can be traced to the Deccan, where it must have been admired by Aurangzeb and adapted for his use during his years there as viceroy.  In the early stages of their evolution, which probably began in the southern Deccan, pistol grips terminated not in the familiar rounded abstract shape but in parrot heads, complete with beaks and eyes.  Deccani examples of the seventeenth century ... already incorporated this change.  After Aurangzeb had established a vogue for them, pistol-grip hilts became common at the Mughal court during the late seventeenth and the eighteenth century; some of them archaistically repeat the original parrot design."

* Fryer 1969 86
"Khanjar  An Indo-Persian dagger, with slightly recurved blade often of finely Damascus steel. The hilt, generally of 'pistol grip' shape, was usually of jade, carved or inset with gems."

* Paul 1995 p68-69
"...[K]hanjars .. have a curved blade of watered steel and a hilt reminiscent of a pistol butt.  Though khanjars probably originated in Turkey, they became extremely popular in India, where they are apt to be more elaborately decorated than any other type of dagger.  The hilts are made of ivory, jade, crystal, agate and are frequently set with precious and semi-precious stones.  The sheaths are also studded to match the hilts."

* North 1985 p37-38
"Many of the Mogul jade hilts for daggers are carved so that the pommel projects at an angle from the grip imitating the angular mounts found on sword hilts.  Jade hilts were carved in a variety of designs; horse's heads, flowers and occasionally human figures.  The jade hilts of Mogul India were frequently set with gems or inlaid with gold or silver.  One form of jade hilt which is variously attributed to both Turkish and Indian workshops has a distinctive 'waisted' profile carved with a series of shallow flutes, the central section of the grip carved as a narrow raised band."

* Metropolitan Museum of Art 1987 p150
"The curled pommel is of a form that appears on sword and dagger hilts during the seventeenth century.  It has been variously suggested that this is a refinement of the crooked pommel designed to prevent the hand from losing its grip, or that it was a decorative feature indigenous to the Deccan, and introduced from there into northern India by Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707) while he was still a prince."


* Arts of the Muslim knight 2008 p143
"Punch daggers (katar) are an Indian form adopted by the Mughals as shown by an Indian sculpture of the late sixteenth century depicting a mounted Muslim mercenary wearing a katar tucked into his belt.  They have short wide blades, sometimes reinforced at the tip, fitted with a transverse grip between the long bars to protect the sides of the hands.  The word katar means piercing dagger and, although their ability to effectively punch through chain mail has been debated, they certainly evolved as a close combat weapon and would have been used only on foot, possibly as a last resort, when a sword or mace had been lost.  The weapon existed in a fully developed form in the sixteenth century and, as many later examples depict scenes of hunting, it is possible this was their original function, as weapons to finish off a wounded animal."

* Sprague 2009 p180
"The jamdhar dagger of the seventeenth century, particularly designed for piercing chain mail [CONTRA Arts of the Muslim knight 2008 p143 above], was held by a cross grip so that the blade extended straight from the fist.  This design allowed the wielder to thrust with the weapon as though he were throwing a closed fist punch, with the full weight of his body behind the blow.  The direct alignment of the blade with the forearm made the strike ergonomically correct.  A trained soldier could wield such a knife with significant force."

* Fryer 1969 p86
"Katar  An Indian dagger designed for thrusting. It consists of tapered blade (the tip often reinforced for piercing chain mail) with a hilt formed of two parallel bars connected by two or more crossbars. Occasionally a knuckle guard is fitted. Blades are found with 'scissors' action, serrated edges or are even forked."

* Richardson/Bennett 2015 p29
"The katar, with its transverse grips, was unique to India, and was to be found across most of the sub-continent. It was fitted with a variety of blades, ranging from narrow wavy blades preferred in the south to short, straight and broad blades in the north, multiple blades, as well as novelties such as the 'scissors' katar, in which squeezing the grips together causes an outer set of blades to open like scissors, and even multiple daggers in which one or even two little katar were housed inside the outer dagger."


* Arts of the Muslim knight 2008 p143
"Less familiar are the indigenous Indian chilanum-hilted daggers.  Chilanum hilts first appear in miniature painting from the second half of the sixteenth century.  Mughal-period hilts are worked in jade or inlaid with gemstones ....  In the course of the Mughal period these evolve into ever more Islamic forms."

* Paul 1995 p70
"The chilanum has a double-edged, recurved blade, generally with two or more grooves.  The hilt is beautifully designed with a wide forked pommel topped by a button and the quillons are of similar shape.  Occasionally it has a knuckle guard.  It is not clear whether the origins are Maratha or Nepalese."

* Coe/Connolly/Harding, Harris/Larocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson p196 (Frederick Wilkinson, "India and Southeast Asia" p186-203)
"Another dagger, the chilanum, was fitted with a similarly shaped blade which, like that of the bichwa, was occasionally split into two prongs, but it had a metal hilt with a very narrow waisted grip which flared at top and bottom."

* Stone 1934 p177
"CHILANUM.  An Indian dagger with a doubly curved, double-edged blade.  The pommel and guard are of nearly the same shape and size and are usually forged in one piece with the blade.  The shape of the blade is derived from that of the old horn knives.  They are used by the Mahrattas, but a very similar knife was used in Nepal."

* Fryer 1969 p85
"Chilanum  An Indian all-steel dagger, with double-curved horn-shaped blade.  The hilt is usually forged from the same piece of metal as the blade."

* Withers/Capwell 2010 p88
"The finest Mughal chilanums had hilts of pure gold embellished with inlaid precious stones.  The chilanum was supposedly introduced to the Mughals by the Rajputs, by way of Emperor Akbar's marriages to Rajput princesses, which brought with them military alliances and a complex intermingling of the Islamic and Hindu cultures.  Chilanum blades were invariably of the finest watered steel, and the arms of the guard were worked into plant or animal forms."