Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   KORA (

Unclebob 2nd January 2018 09:53 PM

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I'd been looking for one of these for quite awhile and this one turned up a couple of months ago. I've posted this on IKRHS, but I thought you chaps might like to have a look.
Any comments welcome!

Battara 3rd January 2018 01:35 AM

This looks to be a Nepalese kora used for sacrificing animals, though I guess it also be used for combat as well.

ariel 6th January 2018 04:14 PM

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It is not" could be" :-) It was .
Here is a picture of native Nepalese soldiers carrying Koras.
Couple of them in the first row show Koras in their easily recognizable scabbards, and in the rest of them we can see Kora's handles.
Try to enlarge the pic.

Ian 6th January 2018 04:30 PM


The use of the kora as a weapon is well documented, as you point out. However, Bob's example seems to be of heavy construction and not easily wielded in combat. I have several antique examples, 18-19th C, that were definitely weapons and were actually quite light in the hand.

Bob, like Jose I think your kora more likely had a sacrificial/ceremonial purpose than a combat purpose. Decorative/ceremonial/sacrificial examples have probably persisted more frequently in collections than the "no frills" combat versions, and many of what we see today seem to be of better quality than ordinary fighting examples.


Battara 6th January 2018 09:18 PM

Not only does this seem heavy, but the eye off Durga is on the blade as well, which was usually reserved for sacrificial koras.

Ian 6th January 2018 10:32 PM

Good point about the eye of Durga, Jose.

There were some heavy kora used for fighting, but I understand these were mainly for rampart defense, and rather specialized in their use. I have some examples of heavy, combat kora that I will try to find and post pics.


Ian 6th January 2018 11:36 PM

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Here is a picture of a pair of old kora that have heavy, thick blades. I ran these by our friend, John Powell, who had this to say:
"Nice pair of old heavy kora. The use of such heavy examples for fighting was largely restricted to rampart defense. There was specific training in the use of these heavy versions of the kora for that purpose. Your two are likely from the late 18th or early 19th century when these weapons were still in use for defending fortifications. That would make them of similar age to the other kora you showed me."
Thickness of the blade in front of the hilt is just under a half inch, and this tapers to about a quarter inch at the end of the blade. When wielded with force, I believe the tip would easily pierce most armor of the time. These are more like an axe than a sword.


Battara 7th January 2018 12:40 AM

Nice examples Ian.

I can also see how they can be used to hook shields and ladders as well as piercing armor.

ariel 7th January 2018 12:22 PM

Based on the dimensions of the scabbard ( see picture), it must have contained a Mother of all Koras:-)

Brits have suffered heavy casualties from Koras while storming their defences.

My Nepalese Kora is 3/8" thick and 2" wide at the base. Blade length is 19", with 5.5" flare.
The Tibetan one is also 3/8" thick, but only 1" wide, 23" long and 3" flare.

I haven't check their weights, but the Nepalese one is at least twice as heavy but is easily " wieldable". Still, it was not used for intricate fencing maneuvers; it was a modified axe. As such, it could have been productively used in the field.

Unclebob 7th January 2018 07:55 PM

Many thanks for all the info, I wondered what the eyes were all about! For your info, the Kora is 27" overall, with a 20" blade, which is pretty much 3/8" thick over its length. The flared end is 4" across. Weight is 31oz.

shastardhari 24th January 2018 10:56 AM

A lot of people say they were only for rituals. .I disagree. Some are the real deal battle swords....used for cutting off limbs, heads etc. Note the eye of "Durga" on the blade.

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