Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 19th July 2015, 08:49 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,591
Default Chilean Corvo knives

An old thread was revived recently on Chilean knives, and the familiar 'corvo' was noted.
In searching through our archives, it seems that while these interesting knives have been discussed briefly, there remains little known on them.
I wanted to start a new thread where we might compile and discuss more on these, and hope those out there with examples might bring them to the thread for discussion.

Most of what I have found is that these seem to have originated early in 18th c. but became more notably used during the War of the Pacific (Chili, Bolivia and Peru 1879-1883). These were apparently utility type knives, but became deadly weapons during this time.
The earlier versions of these had single edge on inside of curve on blade, newer double edged and the military versions of these 20th c. have a more hooked tip.
Apparently these were not especially favored by Peru and Bolivia (though Burton, 1884 depicts a knife noted as similar as Peruvian, fig 84) and they were termed 'cutthroat knives'. The wounds were terrible so the disdain not surprising.

The stacked style of the hilts and the form in general resembles Canary Islands 'punale', though the curved blade (corvo= raven, cf beak) is obviously different in the Chilean knife.

It seems discussions on these date to about 2001,2002 where Ian made a number of impressive observations, but aside from entries in 2004, 2009, 2014, the topic has been dormant until the thread Jul 6,2015.

My question is, identifying the earlier versions of 'corvo', which might be of the 'Pacific War' period.
Also, on the blades of many of these, among other decorative inlay motifs, are a number of inlaid brass circles.

Can anyone say more on these brass circles?
What do they mean?
Are they indicative of earlier examples?

It would be great to bring things 'up to speed' on these fascinating knives and learn more on their character and markings.
Attached Images
  

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 20th July 2015 at 12:15 AM. Reason: Nostradamus syndrome :) Thanks Kronckew!
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th July 2015, 10:41 PM   #2
kronckew
Member
 
kronckew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: CSA Consulate, Rm. 101, Glos. UK: p.s. - Real Dogs Have Feathering.
Posts: 2,423
Default

'an OLD 2016 thread' - precognition?

how about a few lottery old numbers from nxt week?
kronckew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 10:50 AM   #3
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default

Jim:

Thanks for bringing these knives back into focus. They are certainly fascinating but there does not seem to have been much new information about them since I posted back in the early 2000s. Several more have come up for auction, and there was a discussion on Swordforum in 2004 that had some useful information, but otherwise not much more has found its way into my files. I'm hoping some of our forumites can shed some further light on these.

In looking through my files, here is what I have found since the early 2000s.

--------------

A comment from one of our forum members (swiss-chris)

http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/000935.html

Hi

The corvo is one of my favourite knives. Two years ago I went to Santiago de Chile to visit my family and some friends took me to a market where all sort of Chilean military equipment was sold (by the way there were also so many old German daggers and swords). I started to talk to the seller and he told me little about the corvo. If you talk with Chilean people about the corvo most of them will tell you a lot of fantastic stories but I’ll try to tell you the truth about the corvo. The corvo is known since 1700. His great development was in century XIX, jointly with the development of "mineria" (mining). The corvo was utilized as a fighting knife but also as working knife. People changed often their jobs and so did the function of the corvo. The corvo became famous in the Pacific war where it was used by Chilean soldiers in close quarter combat. This weapon is at the moment the official knife of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Airforce) but it is also the symbol of the Special Forces.

Regards

Chris

--------------------

George Seal posting on Swordforum

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sh...9-Chilean-Corvo

Hello,

I'm starting this new topic to discuss the Chilean corvo combat knife, a weapon I own and that I was trained to use during my military service.

The corvo is a Chilean traditional knife that gained prominence during the wars against Perú and Bolivia during the XIX century.

This link shows an early corvo: http://www.circulocordillera.cl/cultural/corvo1.htm

This illustration is a typical War of the Pacific (1879) corvo: http://www.ejercito.cl/ninos/pacifico/armas13.htm

As you can see it has no hand guard, so it's civilian. At that time military weapons should have had hand guards to protect the hand from sabre cuts.

The name derives from “curved,” as it has a curved blade. Lots of people think it has Arabic origins because of this, but it is believed to be a descendant of a Spanish tool. The first corvos had the edge on the inside of the blade, not the outside as in Magreb weapons. I think it developed from small curved knives used to cut vegetation, like a small scythe. The modern corvo has 2 sharp edges.

It started out as a tool used by miners and railway workers, but conscripts rapidly took it to combat and the modern version is a standard issue weapon in the Chilean Army.

It is a very feared weapon and is highly unpopular in Perú and Bolivia, so it gives a psychological advantage.

The current weapon is a big knife. It can be used as a tool (my dad chops wood with his) or as a weapon. It's size helps because it's intended to block and deflect a bayonet charge or a club blow.
You can't easily stab like with a Ka Bar, but it's great for catching other weapons. It acts like a Kukri, you stab and put leverage, or you use it like a hatchet. Wounds are horrible.

The big drawback is that you have to know how to use the thing. I actually have some trouble using normal knives as I'm used to curved blades cutting using the inside. You also use it like a pick.

The corvo remained a lost art up to relatively recent times. Today's standard models were created circa 1963 by 2 special forces officers. They had to learn to use it and studied with a man serving a prison life term for seven murders! Today we use moves adapted from Tae Kwon Do with the corvo.

Production was carried out by Andes Sam (a unit of FAMAE) from 1971-2000. Today it's not being manufactured as the unit closed and a new producer has not been found.

The following link has a text in Spanish. http://www.aceros-de-hispania.com/cu...s-chilenos.htm

The pictures show this:

first one: the oldest War of the Pacific pic with a corvo used in uniform
second & third: modern corvos. The more curved ones are officer issue, called by troop Parrot's Beak (the knife, not the officer). Special forces use them. The more straight ones are for soldiers, they are the Atacameños (native of the Atacama Desert)
(PS The link is from a store. I have never bought from them)

The knife is very simple and tough. The handle I don't like. It grips better like a sabre (tip up). That goes the wrong way, you should point the beak outwards. The pommel is a good hammer. The military issue corvo is designed to cut metallic nails. It's heavy. Presentation models are plated, combat ones are black.

Is anybody interested in this weapon?

---------------------------

[And a later post by the same author]

Modern military corvo fencing is adapted from taekwondo blows and blocking actions.

Stab: The easiest thing. It's just like a martial arts back punch. You pull the elbow way back, till your fist is at your armpit then punch straight. It's a fast punch, hard to block. You do the same with the Atacameño corvo. Stab straight, slightly up, at the face. The point goes in like a pick. If it gets stuck, a little wrist action makes it go in deep due to leverage. The wound curves inside, so it's nasty.

Cuts: Wide and forceful arced swipes. Needs more room, sticks like a hook, yank it out, a chunk comes out. Other techniques include a circular movement of the pick shape once it's stuck in. I find it hard to do, but it’s destructive. Also with the pick in, and since the inner blade is sharp, you pull hard in straight lines and the guy gets literally gutted.

Blocks: A 2 movement thing, specially parrying against head blows. The parry is short and in straight line. The enemy blade can't slide too much because it's caught in the middle of the hook and hand guard. Now do a curved swipe and take the other knife away from you. Maybe yank it from the other guy's grasp.

The outer edge is saber like. You just swash like a hatchet using the weight of the weapon. That's how you chop wood.

------------------------

And the following comment from the site noted

http://bowieknifefightsfighters.blo...lean-corvo.html

The corvo is a curved-bladed fighting knife peculiar to Chile. There follow a number of references to it I came across in my research. Please excuse the benighted generalizations made about the Chilean people.

From Working North From Patagonia (1921) by Harry Alverson Franck:

"There is a saying in Chile that the population is made up of futres, bomberos, and rotos. The first are well-dressed street-corner loafers; the bomberos are volunteer firemen, and the rotos form the ragged working class that makes up the bulk of the population. The latter, said never to be without the corvo, an ugly curved knife, with which they are quick to tripear, to bring to light the "tripe," of an adversary by an upward slash at his abdomen, are not merely conspicuous, but omnipresent."

In the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society of New York (1884) we read:

"In relative justice to the Peruvian whites and half-castes, however, I ought to add that I do not think that they are any more cruel than the Chileans. Bull-rings and cockpits, to be sure, are prohibited in Chile, but by the enlightened will of the Government, not by the humane desire of the people. The first intense ambition of a Chilean boy in the common walks of life is to own a corvo, or curved knife, and it becomes his inseparable companion through manhood. The statistics of the losses in the battlefields of the present war tell the story. The proportion of the dead to the wounded in many of them has been more than two to one, by butchery after victory."

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 20th July 2015 at 11:43 AM.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 11:38 AM   #4
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default A brief history of the Chilean corvo

This is what I have been able to glean from the few sources available.

First, a note on the name corvo. There is some belief that this is linked to the Spanish name for a crow. I have found no credence for this attribution among those familiar with this knife. It appears that the name derives simply from the adjective, corvo, meaning curved. A fellow forumite from Spain, Marc, also noted this in an old thread.

The corvo seems to have made its first appearance in Chile around 1700 and is thought to have derived from a small sickle used as an agricultural tool and introduced by the Spanish. As a tool it had no guard and was sharpened only on the concave edge. Over time it became a standard tool of miners and agricultural workers where it was used as a pick as well as to cut vegetation and wood.

At some point it became the weapon of the working man, often used in combination with a parrying device in the other hand--a stick or perhaps cloth or cape wrapped around the arm. The corvo came to be a much feared weapon in the hands of skilled fighters, often leading to horrific injuries and fatalities.

In 1848 there was a substantial influx of Chileans into California associated with the discovery of gold. Why the Chileans (known as the "48ers") were among the first to invade the Californian goldfields is an interesting story (http://historicaltextarchive.com/se...=read&artid=257). Reference is made to the use of the corvo as a mining tool during that period.

Military use of the corvo is well documented in the War of the Pacific (1879-1883). It is unclear whether the corvo was military issue or whether the soldiers simply brought their own knives with them (every working man had his own from adolescence). It was in this war that the terrible injuries and fatalities caused by the corvo were described and condemned by Peruvians and Bolivians who were on the wrong end of these weapons.

I have not been able to establish whether the corvo continued to be used by the military in the remaining 19th C and first half of the 20th C, but in 1971 the Chilean government started manufacturing the corvo for military issue. These were made by FAMAE and production continued until 2000. Two double-edged models with guards were made: a prominently hooked model with a 90 degree curve to its tip (sometimes called the corvo cuervo), and a less curved version (sometimes called the corvo atacameño). The former were used by officers and special forces units, the latter by other ranks.

Civilian corvos underwent changes during the 20th C. also. The traditional single-edged knife was adapted to a double-edged weapon, probably some time in the first half of the 20th C., although single-edged versions still seem to have been made as well. The hilts of these knives became fancier, with more intricate stacked hilts becoming fashionable, and civilian versions sometimes had guards added to them (presumably to enhance their fighting usefulness). Inlaid work on the blades is unusual, and can be found on older versions as well as those of the 20th C.

This is a very sketchy history of the national knife of Chile, and consists of a lot of words without pictures. I will post a series of pictures from my files over the next day or so to illustrate the points made above.

I hope others can fill in many of the blanks about these knives and answer the interesting questions Jim has posed.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 20th July 2015 at 12:10 PM.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 11:56 AM   #5
kronckew
Member
 
kronckew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: CSA Consulate, Rm. 101, Glos. UK: p.s. - Real Dogs Have Feathering.
Posts: 2,423
Default

it is of course a so. american version of an old friend, the double edged jambiyah/koummiyah/shabriyah, whose use of the pint down, inner curve we discussed recently on another forum.
Attached Images
  

Last edited by kronckew : 20th July 2015 at 12:21 PM.
kronckew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 12:06 PM   #6
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default

Wayne:

There are obvious similarities between the modern corvo and the jambiya.

However, the development of the corvo appears to be quite separate and uninfluenced by the jambiya style of weapon. The corvo started out as a single-edged, sickle knife and tool. From there it evolved to a weapon (sharp on the concave edge only) and eventually a double-edged weapon.

A number of years ago we had an extensive debate about a possible Arab/African origin for the corvo and concluded there was no evidence for such a link or association, rather a similar end point but from different origins.

Ian.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 12:20 PM   #7
kronckew
Member
 
kronckew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: CSA Consulate, Rm. 101, Glos. UK: p.s. - Real Dogs Have Feathering.
Posts: 2,423
Default

parallel evolution in action

there was also the single edged sica, used by roman gladiators & the sicarius of palestine & elsewhere.
kronckew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 12:54 PM   #8
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default

Here is a clearly documented 19th C. corvo. The officer pictured is Sub-Lieutenant José L. Herrera and the picture was taken in Antofagasta on February 20, 1879 (very early in the Pacific War just after the seizure of Antofagasta by Chile). Note the bolster on the hilt and absence of a guard. This was a civilian knife taken to war.
Attached Images
 
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 01:01 PM   #9
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default Early corvos

Examples of 19th C. corvo. Note the "Spanish notch" on the blade of the silver handled one, the one below it, and two in the bottom picture--I have not seen this feature on 20th C pieces.
Attached Images
    

Last edited by Ian : 20th July 2015 at 03:46 PM. Reason: Added more pictures
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 01:07 PM   #10
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default

Attached Images
  

Last edited by Ian : 20th July 2015 at 01:29 PM.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 01:11 PM   #11
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default

Military corvo.
Attached Images
  
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 01:18 PM   #12
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default

A European version of the corvo. A German single-edged hirschfanger made in the corvo style and manufactured by Laute in about 1910.
Attached Images
 

Last edited by Ian : 20th July 2015 at 01:39 PM.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20th July 2015, 10:26 PM   #13
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,591
Default

Ian, outstanding research work!! and thank you for bringing together an excellent summary of data on these!
While it does seem that little has come forward on the corvo in the years since they were discussed here, it is good to know that yourself and others here have put together this key data which gives us perspective on them.
The assembled examples and links are great also. Much appreciated.

Kronckew, thank you as well for the input and insight. As you point out, there are basic similarities with some of these other daggers, but though compelling, nothing we can assert with any certainty.

It seems in things I have found, the examples which have that rounded choil (aka Meditteranean notch) at the blade back seem to be often identified as Canary Islands.

Actually, what little I know on knives, especially of these kinds, I thought this was more a utility knife. It does seem these were quite deadly in the hands of these Chilean fighters, and it is fascinating to learn more on their history.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd July 2015, 02:22 PM   #14
carlos
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 610
Default

Beatiful knife the chilean corvo, I have links about this knife.In spanish language.
http://corvochileno.blogspot.com.es/
http://urbatorium.blogspot.com.es/2...nta-arma-y.html

Thanks
carlos
carlos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd July 2015, 03:22 PM   #15
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
Posts: 2,030
Default

Thanks Carlos. For those of us who speak little Spanish these sites are invaluable for the pictures that clearly show the styles of corvo during the Pacific War, as well as before and afterwards.

Ian.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 11:16 AM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.