Jamadhar Katari Kalash

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Hybrid Chilanum - Jamadhar Katari Kalash from Chitral

Code: IP26

This is provisionally identified as a jamadhar katari from Chitral regions of Pakistan near the southern Hindu Kush valleys of Pakistan. It is typical of the Kalash people. This unusual knife has a crusty high age patina and signs of use. It dates to the 17th or 18th century, perhaps far earlier.  The overall size is just over 34 cm. the blade alone is 24 cm with a maximum width of 13 cm. The blade tapers from a generally oval cross section to a flat spatulate diamond-shaped tip. The tip is quite unusual and may yield further clue to this dagger's origin.

The hilt form, downward drooping quillons and pommel reflect both Persian and Afghan palupar characteristics, which says much about the history of the weapon and those who made it.

The example strongly resembles the jamadhar katari of the Kafir people who reside across the mountains in the Afghanistan Hindu Kush valleys in a region now called Nurestan. However, unlike the jamadhar katari kafir whose blade is pinned to the guard, this knife is cast as one piece.  

This dagger is closer in form to the jamadhar katari than it is to chalanum of similar shape found elsewhere in India, which typically have a medial ridge in a curved or recurved blade, and more more curve to the quillons. Thus, this may be a very early example that is hybrid.

Chitral map

Indeed, it is suggested that the Kalash and Kafir share common origins. They are said to be descendants of an old Indian population that used to occupy the Hindu Kush region and did not convert to Islam with the rest of the population.Like the Kafir, the Kalash are a Dardic indigenous people who practiced an ancient Indo-Iranian polytheistic religion. Around 1895, Emir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan forcefully converted the province. The Kafir remained and the Kalash fled and eventually settled with others of their tribe in present day Chitral region of Pakistan. In the 20th century, the number of non-Muslims dwindled. Today, the Kalash people are divided equally between the adherents of Islam and their own religion. Muslim and non-Muslim Kalash continue to live alongside and practice the same rituals and cultural customs of their ancestors.