Fans of Xena the Warrior Princess will probably be familiar with the Chakram. This weapon is a flying disc of death. Its razor sharp outer edge is capable of slicing through bone, and can be thrown up to around 90 feet (30 meters). The hoop shaped design was aerodynamic and would not alter its flight due to wind. Rajput trained to pinch the weapon with the thumb and forefinger to avoid cutting themselves when preparing to throw this deadly ring. Unlike Xena’s magical chakram, the real ones usually did not return because they were imbedded in whatever they hit.
The weapon could be thrown like a Frisbee, but during combat it was most often thrown with a vertical throw to avoid hitting any allies to either side of their target. Another method that was often used to toss the weapon was by spinning it on the end of a finger and then flinging it with a flick of the wrist. This was believed to make the weapon more deadly as it would be spinning at a greater rate when it struck its target.
The Chakram were also used by another Indian warrior caste called the Sikhs. It is more commonly known for its use by the Sikhs, but the Rajputs were known to wield this as well. The Sikhs often wore the hoops all over their bodies. They were made in several sizes so they could fit perfectly around arms, necks and even turbans.
The chakram was used in melee when being worn around the body when the warrior would grapple. He would use the rings to slice and dice their enemies. The razor edge made them extremely deadly when scraping it across the face. Some warriors who carried them on their turbans would grab the top and swing the headpiece like a razor flail. These are some of the most versatile weapons used by the Rajput.
Many chakram were engraved and designed with great style. Not all chakram were made with steel, some were made with brass. The lighter weight of brass made it easier for the blacksmith to straighten and smooth it into a more aerodynamic design. This gave the brass chakram more range than its steel counterpart. These simple to make and very popular weapons spread into Tibet and China as well.
Some of you who remember a certain James Bond villain named Oddjob will remember his deadly hat. The chakram is what was sewn into the brim.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.