War Ayda Katti

Ayda Katti from India

Code:  IP22

This is a Ayda Katti (ayudha kathi, aydha katti, ayudha katti, oidekatti), traditional sword of the Kodavas. There are two known forms of the ayda katti. This one is consider the war form and is distinguished from the prestige form worn daily by the size, weight and pommel. Unlike the prestige form, the war ayda katti has no leaf-shape pommel to attach it to harnass. It must be carried in the hand. The Ayda Katti is one of the rarest edged weapons. 

The Kodavas (Kodava, Kannada) people reside in the Kodagu region in southwestern India (see map). The British referred to Kodagu region as “Coorg”, an anglicized corruption of "Kodagu", said to be derived from the Kanarese Kudu words for, "steep" or “hilly". The Kodavas have inhabited the area for over 2000 years.  Read more about the Kodavas.

The Kodavas were respected as fierce warriors. To protect their independence, they distinguished themselves in battle with their neighbors and later against the British in 1834. In response to  an outbreak of violence near Malappuram in 1884, the British confisticated the vast majority of these weapons. As a result, very few are seen in the collectors market or collections.

The local British administration confiscated all arms, seizing 17,295 weapons of which 7,503 were guns. The Madras Museum selected a few of the better examples and the remainder were dumped into the sea.

(Elgood, 1995, p. 185)

The sharpened edge of the blade is concave and the top, or back, of the sword is initially concave tapering slightly for about ¼ of the length until it becomes sharply convex, tapering quickly to the point.  Overall, the sword is short and quite heavy.  It is very much a chopping-type of weapon and like many such found worldwide, it probably found use in agriculture as well as war. It somewhat resembles the Moplah sword of the Muslim population on the Malabar coast in southwest india. Unlike the moplah, the ayda katti is sharpened on only one side of the blade and has no medial ridge.

This example is 19 ½ inches in overall length.  The blade is 12 ½ inches long. The height ranges from  1 ½ inch wide at the hilt to 3 ½ inches at its widest spot before it tapers to the point.  The thickness of the blade is ¼ inch at the hilt tapering distally to ⅛ inch near the tip.  The blade is sharp on the concave side.  The blade is very well made and shows traces of hand hammer forging.

The hilt is solid horn, possibly water buffalo, with brass fittings.  The designs are floral and geometric.  

Ayda Katti hilt detail
Ayda Katti blade detail
Kodavas of Kodagu

There is no sheath for the Ayda Katti.  As in the picture below, it is typically held in the hand, especially while sitting.  The prestige form of the ayda katti is normally carried (while standing) using an elaborate support device (see picture) belt where the weapon hangs downward from a ring in back of the owner.


IMG 1128


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