[+] Jamadhar - Indian Punch Daggers

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This page is part of the Virtual Tour, originally created by students. Learn more about how the tour was created here.


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The slideshow below showcases many different variations on the traditional Indian weapon.

1. The Jamadhar

The Jamadhar is a style of weapon found exclusively in India. During the 1500s and 1600s it was one of the most popular and common weapons to carry. The name "jamadhar" comes from a combination of two Sanskrit words: "jam," meaning the god of death, and "dhar," meaning sharp edge. The Jamadhar is defined by its unique H-shaped handle that was meant to be gripped in a fist. When in a fight this special hilt would protect the wearer's hand and forearms.

2. Jamadhar of the North

Northern India in the 1600s and 1700s was dominated by the Mughal Empire. The members of the Mughal Court would often carry extravagant weapons, such as jamadhar, to prove their wealth and status. This jamadhar is decorated in gold, a common style in the Mughal Empire. The blade is also shorter and wider than many daggers, another clue that it was made in the north.

3.Jamadhar of the South

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Southern India during the 1600s saw some of the first trading between the British and the Indian subcontinent. This influence can be seen in the weapons of this time, as European and Indian parts were often combined to form one weapon. This jamadhar is actually not a purely Indian piece, but a recycled European sword blade attached to an Indian handle. The silver decorations and slimmer blade are also classic indications of a southern Indian dagger.

4. Variations on the Jamadhar-Shell Guard

 

 Early in the development of jamadhar, people experimented with shell guards like this one. It was hoped that this would offer better protection than the H-shaped hilt alone. However these shelled guards were a short lived-development, and were soon replaced with the classic handles once more.

5. Variations on the Jamadhar: Two in One

   

Jamadhar were not only used as status symbols among India? elite, they were also treated as collectables by many foreigners as well. For these reasons many unique forms of this dagger were made to be sold as novelty items. This jamadhar, which conceals a smaller jamadhar inside it, is one. The outer blade is dull and would likely be useless as an attack weapon.

6. Variations on the Jamadhar: Scissors

   

Another inventive modification to the classic weapon, this ?cissors?jamadhar features a blade that opens up to reveal another blade when the handle is squeezed. As with the ?wo in One?jamadhar this piece was mostly for show; no advantage is gained in a fight by having one blade inside the other, it was only meant to look exciting and interesting.


Show:


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Jamadhar
Central or southern India; blade: probably Europe, c.1700s
Materials: Steel; iron; silver; brass; copper
Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.
Accession Number: 1553


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Jamadhar
Northern India; c.1700s
Materials: Wootz steel; gold; iron
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Accession Number: 1552


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Jamadhar for a child
Northern India, c.1700s
Materials: Steel; iron; gold; brass
Weight: 7oz with scabbard
Accession Number: 1108.a