Jan 31, 2014

Weapons & Warriors: The Bagh Nakha of the Marathas

Art by TL Jeffcoat
This deadly weapon, which is frowned upon as an assassin’s tool, was designed to mimic the claws of a tiger, which is what the name Bagh Nakha translates into. Fitted into the palm of a hand, it could be easily concealed until it’s time to strike. The Maratha Emporer, Shivaji, was supposedly one of the first to use it to thwart his assassination, and disembowel the general who had attempted to strike him down during a negotiation.

The crossbar could be made from anything, such as wood, metal, or even a glove. Four curved blades were fixed to stick out from the palm. In older designs, the spikes were fastened to a bar and holes were cut in the bar to fit the fingers through, but eventually it evolved into a ring on either end for the pinky and pointer fingers. At a glance, the unsuspecting victim might believe the assassin was wearing a couple of rings.

Rajputs were known to poison the claws, which makes the already dangerous claws extremely fatal. The short claws don’t look like much, but since the blades are in the palm of the hand, it made the Bagh Nakha very easy to learn to kill with. Slapping someone across the face could shred the head and destroy eyes, ears, noses, mouths, etc. The blades were razor sharp, and swipe across the lower torso could incapacitate and even kill someone as their intestines are exposed through the shredded skin.

There was once a sport in India that was very popular where two men attacked each other using the Bagh Nakha. Often both would bleed to death by the end of the fight as they literally ripped each other’s face off. The site must have been very grotesque, but surviving a competition would certainly give you bragging rights as being a survivor. That is if you still had a tongue to brag with. 

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment