This mid-19th century katar from Bundi, Rajasthan, was featured in a recent talk @royalasiaticsociety by Dr. Ravinder Reddy (author of a new book on Arms & Armour). Dr. Reddy pointed out the dog licking the leg of the figure determined him as Bhairava rather than Shiva, Bhairava is a fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation. The chiseling is exquisite, and is a typical Mewari depiction. It has close similarities with Mewari painting in the early to mid-19th century, and to the Kangra-Pahari school of painting of the same period. A great parallel visual reference can be seen in a painting in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., depicting Shiva and Parvati (accession number F2001.11), and can be searched for and viewed on the Freer and Sackler website http://www.asia.si.edu/ thanks to @rachel.parikh for this reference.
The hilt is covered in sheet gold (partly worn), and decorated with stippled flowers. The overall layout and construction is in the Bundi style, and Nordlunde (2009) discusses this particular style of katar as belonging to the larger of two groups that were made in Bundi around 1850 A.D. A further hallmark of so-called Bundi katars is the floral arrangement we see between the grip bars.
A similar dagger was in the collection of the late Dr. Leo Figiel, published in the Butterfield and Butterfield sale catalogue of his collection in 1998 (sale number 6824A, lot no.2117). #shiva#bhairava#katar#dagger#steel#wootz#bundi#rajasthan#antiqueweapons#hinduism#tantra#tantric