Published: 12 Sep 2017

Ancient India’s golden weapons

The gold-devoted Indians have spent enormous energy in designing and constructing various ornaments, accessories and other items from the yellow metal. The royals of ancient India adored their weapons, and loved to flaunt their wealth in this form – and so started the fashion for creating weapons made with gold.

Few weapons were made of high carat gold - generally the yellow metal was often combined with iron or bronze. Of the varied weapons used in the ancient era, here are some of the most-used and most highly decorative ones.

Firangi (Sword): This huge sword was 35-38 inches long and was used to cut as well as thrust. Prominently associated with the Maratha warriors, it was also used widely by the Mughals.

This highly decorated sword was adorned with gold on the hilt and the scabbard, in beautiful patterns embellished with enamels of different colours. This striking and opulent decoration represented the wealth and majesty of the King who carried it.

Katar (Dagger): This weapon originates from South India and has been widely used in the Asian continent. It has a highly distinctive hand grip which is in an H-shape; the two parallel lines at the centre of the grip allowed the user to hold the Katar above knuckles. The blade length could range from 12 to 35 inches.

The handle and blade are usually crafted from steel. This weapon became a status symbol, which led to the addition of gold to show off the wealth of its owner. Generally this would be on the handle of the Katar which would also be embellished with colours. The sheaths of Katar were also made from gold.

Another form of dagger was the Khanjar; which originated in Oman but was also widely used in India. The Khanjar’s hand grip is similar to that of a knife, however the blade resembles a shorter version of Sword. The Khanjar is worn tucked into the waist-belt and is generally brought out on special ceremonial occasions. The hilt and sheath are usually crafted with gold and other metals.

The Maharajas and other royals were also known to cover their shields with gold.