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  • csm-3000-scu-dagger-front-11_0

Small Dagger

Present Location: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

Period: Medieval

Material: Metal

Objects: Armoury and Weapons

Style: Mughal

Credits: Sir Ratan Tata Collection


The Jamdhar is a typical Indian push dagger. Its peculiarity lies in the H-shaped handle which is made of two parallel bars connected by two or more cross pieces. The jamdhar is used as a thrusting weapon. It was a weapon of war as well as self-defense. It was popular in 16th-17th century A.D. as evidenced by the miniature paintings of this period. The word jamdhar is also mentioned in the Ain-i-Akbari.

The etymology of the word as given by J. Shakespear, 1790, is jam, from the Sanskrit yam, which means death, and dhar, which means a sharp edge. Thus it seems that the weapon is native to India. Interestingly, the British at first couldn’t understand as to why Indian soldiers wore heavy armours, given the hot climate of the country and the vast distances that they had to travel. Probably they didn’t understand this was done to protect themselves from the Jamdhar. Another point to note is that to do the work of Koftagiri for the decoration of the dagger, metal workers (Lohars), polishers (Sikligars) and silver or gold smiths (Sonis) worked together.