Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Kukris: An Evolution in Pictures (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=20415)

mrcjgscott 26th August 2015 10:27 PM

Kukris: An Evolution in Pictures
 
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Dear Forumites,

First and foremost, this thread is not designed to be a definitive guide to the kukri, rather a visual repository of the more commonly encountered styles. At the current moment in time there is nobody on earth qualified to do justice to such a vast subject. Many have tried, and all have failed.

The reasons for this are legion, and to a large extent, entirely understandable. Primary amongst them are the sheer variety of examples, both civilian and military. Such pieces have been made for at least 400 years, in several different countries, by thousands of different people.

A serious, authoritative text would take a dedicated group of researcher’s years to compile, and with new discoveries being made nearly every week, the need for updates would be frequent.

To further complicate matters, over the last ten years, much of the online discussion has been dominated by two people, who share a personal enmity. This has usually meant that many otherwise useful threads have deteriorated into squabbling, insults, and even bullying, with the unfortunate result of turning many people off an otherwise fascinating subject, and making most unwilling to share their own pieces.

Therefore what follows is more intended to be a guide to those interested parties who wish to know more, so they might have an idea of what they have encountered, should they be lucky enough to find a kukri.
It must be remembered that kukris are both weapon and tool combined, and as such can be found in both military and civilian form. More confusingly, sometimes a military blade will become a civilian one, and sometimes vice versa. We will try not to get bogged down with this too much here, but always something to bear in mind.

When using terms I have largely opted for those developed by western scholars and collectors. When such terms are employed, I will endeavour to explain why and how such names came about. It must be remembered that to most Nepalese a kukri is a kukri, whether it be 200 years old, or direct from the Kami’s work bench.

However, where appropriate, and available, Nepalese terms will be used.

For example, the small knives at the back of the scabbard, usually housed behind a pouch (Khissa) are known as a Karda (the small skinning/utility knife) and a chakmak (a sharpening steel)

1) The earliest types.

Lambendh: Literal translation, “Long Handle”

Hanshee: A corruption of “Hansiya” meaning sickle.

Widely acknowledged by most people as being amongst the earliest form of kukri. The main characteristics include a long handle, usually five inches or more, and a curved blade. The blades curve can vary from very steep to gentle and shallow. Many of the earlier types feature a distinct “step” in the blade.

Grip materials can vary from wood, horn, metal and ivory. They can be plain, or decorated, but all will feature a grip ring.

They are sought after pieces, and some of the earliest provenanced examples in Europe date to the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16.

Below are some examples.

mrcjgscott 26th August 2015 10:28 PM

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2)
The next group I illustrate are mostly examples from the Nepalese Armoury at the Royal Palace of Lagan Silikana , Kathmandu. I am sure most people are aware of the 2003 deal which freed up around 14,000 kukris for sale to Western collectors. (although some estimate that as many as 25,000 kukris were included in the deal)

The bulk of these pieces varied in date from the 1860’s through until the 1940’s. The opportunity to study such a giant sample was taken up by several, most notably Dr Benjamin Judkins, who has written various excellent articles on the subject.

For the purposes of this thread I illustrate a small sample, which shows the process of the traditional handmade pieces, through to the beginnings of mechanisation. These are all military in origin, and carry various regimental markings to the spine, in some cases such pieces had a service life of several decades.

mrcjgscott 26th August 2015 10:34 PM

The Military Marks. 1-4
 
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3. The Military Marks. 1-4.

These pieces have already been well represented by Jonathan Sedwell’s excellent article, which can be found here;

http://www.ikrhs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1203

However, below are representative examples of each type, many of which have been copied and reproduced. In some cases the same kukris, particularly the MK2, were produced by the factories for private purchase to soldiers and sailors. Some also influenced civilian designs.

mrcjgscott 26th August 2015 10:38 PM

4. Kothimora
 
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These pieces represent the “high end” of collecting for many. There is a great tradition within Nepal, and India of “presentation” of kukri for services rendered, and in the higher echelons, for visiting nobility, dignitaries and Royalty.

Like all kukri quality varies, some “Georgian” era silverwork being the pinnacle, but real decline does not really strike until post WW1.

Some of these pieces can also represent excellent research opportunities, and many pieces carry a presentation dedication on the front locket.

Below are a variety of styles, from Royal presentation, box kothimora, and recent examples.

mrcjgscott 26th August 2015 10:45 PM

5) All Shapes and Sizes.
 
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Below are a few more, randomly selected to show the various variety of styles and forms in which the kukri which can be encountered.

I hope you have enjoyed the thread, and I hope this will encourage more people to post up their own examples, stimulate some serious discussion and debate, and further our learning.

Kind regards,

Chris

Battara 26th August 2015 11:12 PM

Thank you for posting theses. Some of these are excellent examples of different kothimora.

mrcjgscott 26th August 2015 11:21 PM

Thank you Battara,

I know you have some extremely fine pieces yourself, I hope you will share them with us here.

Kind regards,

Chris

Ian 26th August 2015 11:30 PM

Chris:

Thanks for posting all of these examples and for providing a reference for the military ones. As you say, this has been a hotly debated field for some time and the discussions can be somewhat esoteric for the non-expert.

It is nice to have your pictorial guide to the kukri for those of us who are more casual observers of that field. We have needed something like this for a while.

Ian.

mrcjgscott 26th August 2015 11:40 PM

Thank you for the kind words Ian,

I am hoping that this will encourage more collectors to "dip a toe" into this particular field, and stimulate some much needed new blood and discussion.

I have learned a lot from the forum, and it is the very least I can do to try and pay a little knowledge back into the collective bank.

Sadly I could not provide labels for all the images due to the upload method (or perhaps my lack of computer expertise!) so if there is any uncertainty, especially concerning the military examples, I must apologise.

Kind regards,

Chris

David R 27th August 2015 08:20 AM

Thank you for posting this excellent thread. I think I will be returning to this one again and again.

mrcjgscott 27th August 2015 09:37 AM

Thanks David,

I am pleased you find it useful, hopefully others will too!

Kind regards,

Chris

ariel 27th August 2015 12:06 PM

Put it in the Classics for future references

trenchwarfare 27th August 2015 12:19 PM

A most impressive collection of crooked knives! ;)

mrcjgscott 27th August 2015 01:00 PM

Thanks for the kind words Gents, glad you like them.

They may be a little crooked, but I still like them!

Berkley 27th August 2015 01:33 PM

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Chris,
What a stunning display of magnificent specimens! Thank you for sharing them with us.
In such distinguished company, I hesitantly put forward a small selection to illustrate a few other refinements of shape and decoration.

(Apologies - I thought I had all the pictures properly sized; obviously I did not. :o )

Pukka Bundook 27th August 2015 01:49 PM

Berkley,

I am normally attracted to the nice deeply flowing blades, but for some reason, the Quality your last example exhudes, has me returning to it again & again!
Fantastic piece.

Chris,

Thanks So much for starting this thread, and for showing such beautiful examples. Very useful too, to see them separated into age groups.

Congrats and thanks again!
Richard.

Berkley 27th August 2015 02:10 PM

Richard,
The last one shown is the type John Powell refers to as a "box kothimora".
Originally in his collection, it is shown in his article "Kothimoras, The Fanciest Kukris" in the Nov. 2002 issue of Arms Collecting magazine.

mrcjgscott 27th August 2015 02:19 PM

Hello Berkley,

Some truly outstanding specimens you show there! I am especially keen on the fullering of the second example down, and the belly on the all steel hilted piece is stunning!

Certainly a sample of pieces to elicit envy!

Thank you for sharing them!

Kind regards,

Chris

mrcjgscott 27th August 2015 02:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook

Chris,

Thanks So much for starting this thread, and for showing such beautiful examples. Very useful too, to see them separated into age groups.

Congrats and thanks again!
Richard.


Very kind of you Richard,

I am pleased you have found it of interest, perhaps you will add a kukri or three to your rather fine collection, they are rather addictive!

All the best,

Chris

CharlesS 27th August 2015 02:46 PM

Great thread! Very informative, not to mention great eye candy about an iconic weapon.

mrcjgscott 27th August 2015 04:49 PM

Thank you Charles!

Sajen 27th August 2015 05:18 PM

Hello Chris,

thank you very much for sharing your collection and knowledge. :)

Agree that this should be a classic.

Regards,
Detlef

Jens Nordlunde 27th August 2015 05:21 PM

I think I did something wrong - sorry.

No I did not.
Yes please make this one of the threads not to be forgotten.

Ian 27th August 2015 05:30 PM

Now a Classic
 
This thread has been added to the list of Classics!

mrcjgscott 27th August 2015 07:17 PM

Thanks for the kind words Gents,

That is a huge compliment, I am pleased you all find it useful.

It is a pleasure to be a part of this wonderful forum.

Kind regards,

Chris

Jens Nordlunde 27th August 2015 08:31 PM

Thank you Ian.
Jens


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