Kurochkin A.

Abstract: The article is devoted to the circumstances by which the borrowing of probably the outstanding Indian weapon, the jamdhar dagger, by the Mughals could take place. As a result the genealogically Indian weapon became one of the most important attribute of the ruling class. Conquerors are well known to bring their own culture complex that includes the weapon one as well which is of high elitist status. The status of vanquished military complex is a priori low and it is usually left without attention by the new ruling class. The culture of the vanquished can’t be ignored totally though as it is the basis for the community existence and its relation to the local way of life and natural environment is very close. Hence the culture of the vanquished will be inevitably incorporated in the new order though staying the lower status culture of the “plain folk” anyway and only if the prestigious elements of the local culture can’t be substituted with the same in the culture of the conquerors the former have a chance to be accepted by the high class of the newcomers. The author shows the place the jamdhar dagger occupied in the Indian culture: its extra name is a “tiger dagger” as its construction is extremely practical for the defense from large carnivores and doesn’t need the special skills in the weapon usage. It is the hunting scenes that were mostly used as decorative elements for these daggers ornamentation. For example these themes are included in the design of the well known and carefully studied hunting sabers called “shamshir shikargarh” and “talvar shikargarh” which were definitely made for hunting. Besides it is quite difficult to find other types of daggers, not jamdhar, ornamented in the same manner while jamdhar daggers with battle scenes are almost unknown. It is likely the jamdhar dagger was an elite attribute stressing its owner’s status as a tiger and lion hunter. Since olden times the struggle with beasts was an element of king’s ritual practice, a kind of test for ruling ability and simultaneously the proof for present kingship. It is not by chance that one of the Shah Akbar’s epithets was “the tiger hunter”. The object with such a good number of cultural qualities even if belonging to the vanquished traditions of weaponry was set to occupy rightful place in the culture of the conquerors.

Keywords: dagger, Indian weapons, jamdhar, katar, hunting, Akbar, Mughals, decorative elements.