Friday, 29 November 2013

Military History Photo Friday: The chakram, deadly frisbees of India

No, these aren't toys, but they did inspire those Aerobees that we played with as kids. These are Chakram, an Indian weapon. They're razor sharp on the outside, generally about 5-10 inches in diameter, and are thrown (carefully) like a Frisbee or twirled on the forefinger and then released. Accounts say Indian warriors could throw these long distances with great accuracy. Medieval Indians understood aerodynamics and made the bottoms flat and the tops curved like with the wings of an airplane.

It's unclear when the Chakram was first invented although it's certain they're very ancient. They were mainly used in northwest India, especially by the Sikhs, who continued using them into the 19th century. One account mentions street criminals using small chakram in Calcutta as late as the 1940s.

While the chakram were long-lived as a weapon, I'm not surprised they didn't spread to a wider area. Like many unusual weapons, the chakram was trying to replicate something that could be more easily accomplished in another form. A bow is easier to use and deadlier, which is why you can find bows in pretty much every culture. These are neat, though! Anyone want to practice with one and get back to me?

Top photo copyright Sean McLachlan. Taken at the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. Bottom photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

D.G. Hudson said...

Those rings remind me of Odd Job's hat in Goldfinger. Killer frisbees?

Interesting, Sean. Amazing what necessity can create. A person would need to be fairly accurate, or they could be flung back, couldn't they?

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