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Chakram
Sikhs with chakrams.jpg
Sikhs with chakrams, inscribed "Nihang Abchal Nagar" (Nihangs from Hazur Sahib), 1844
Type Sharp Disc
Place of origin India

The Chakram (Devanāgarī: चक्रं), sometimes called a war quoit, is a flat metal disc with a sharp outer edge from 5–12 inches (130–300 mm) in diameter used as a weapon by the Sikh people. Unlike wind and fire wheels, which are larger and used as melee weapons only, the chakram was designed to be thrown.

The word comes from Sanskrit and means "circle, wheel". Earliest references come from the Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana (here the Sudarshana Chakra is the weapon of the god Vishnu). Chakradhaari is a name of Krishna. Because of its aerodynamic shape (similar to an aeroplane wing, flying disc, or aerobie), it is not easily deflected by wind.

The chakkar, as it is called in Punjabi, was used extensively by the Sikhs as recently as the days of Ranjit Singh's Sikh Empire. The chakkar was not a "frisbee-like disc" as the chakram was, but was rather a hoop-like blade, also meant for throwing. It is quintessentially a Sikh historical weapon.

The chakram in popular culture

The chakram have been the weapon of choice by many fictional characters in novels, games and TV series; however, the weapon is rarely portrayed realistically. One of the more famous examples being in the hit TV series Xena: Warrior Princess – where the fictional character Xena, the protagonist of the show – is able to throw her chakram great distances and often caused it to ricochet off surfaces, armours or helmets to incapacitate multiple enemies and then return to her hand. In season one episode nine, "Death in Chains" she even threw it in such a way to have it spin in mid-air, sawing through a nearby tree branch.

The young Khan wields chakrams in the two-volume Star Trek novel The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh.

Another fictional example of a chakram is found in the James Bond film Goldfinger. The titular villain's chief henchman, Oddjob, wears a bowler hat which effectively is a disguised chakram, with the ring installed in the rim.

Queen Kottakkal, a minor character in the novels The Confusion and The System of the World, wears wootz chakrams as necklaces.

In the manga/anime series One Piece, the hypnotist Jango uses chakram as both a weapon and as a hypno ring.

In the game Tales of Symphonia, Colette Brunel uses dual chakrams in combat.

In the game Secret of Mana, the chakram is a boomerang-type weapon with toothed edges which returns after it is thrown. However, its circular shape, unlike that of a boomerang, makes the physics of the weapon unlikely.

Large circular blades used as melee weapons are also sometimes mistakenly referred to as chakrams in fiction, but these have more in common with the Chinese wind and fire wheels. For example, Axel, a character in the Kingdom Hearts video game series, is said to use chakrams. However, since they are larger and used for melee combat more often than throwing, they would be more accurately termed wind and fire wheels. Similar to this, in the video game Final Fantasy 6, the main character, Locke, has a weapon known as the Moonring Blade which is shown to have boomerang attributes whence he throws it, it slices through the enemy, then returns to his hand.

A chakram is used in the game Fallout: Tactics.

See also

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