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Old 25th June 2005, 08:08 PM   #1
Ian
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Default Small sickle chopper -- Southern Indian (?)

This is a small but well made sickle weapon. I've searched my files and references and the closest I can come to an ID is either a Moplah chopper from the Malabar Coast of SW India, or something a little further inland from Mysore. Egerton has an example that resembles the one pictured below.

The blade measures 8 1/4 inches from tip to bolster and is 1 5/8 inches at its widest. Blade is 3/16 inches thick just in front of the bolster. There is a 1/2-inch steel bolster and the rest of the handle is 4 1/4 inches in length, with a brass and a steel ferrule flanking the circular wooden grip. There is a thin metal plate at the end of the hilt, with a peened tang to secure the hilt.

There are elongated S-shapes along the spine of the blade and other designs at "forte" -- see the pictures below. Perhaps the most unusual feature is a humped protrusion from the back of the blade immediately before the bolster. I have included detailed pictures of this area. The only similar arrangement I have found is a Malabar chopper illustrated in Egerton.

Close up views of the blade show some patination and there is evidence of an inserted edge. Overall, I would say the blade is at least 100 years old, probably older, but the hilt may be a replacement.

Opinons and observations would be most welcome.

Ian.
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Old 25th June 2005, 10:37 PM   #2
Battara
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I've seen this example in Stone's book. Don't remember if it is in Elgood's book.
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Old 25th June 2005, 10:41 PM   #3
Tim Simmons
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Hello Ian, what is that red stuff we can see in the picture, it looks a bit like polishing compound. I am not trying to be rude. I would agree with you that there is age with this blade. It might be red paint? A drop of meths should clean out any pre- sale buffing. I have been on the look out for one of these knives with a scabbard, but I have come to the conclusion that with or with out a scabbard they are thin on the ground.Tim
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Old 25th June 2005, 11:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
Hello Ian, what is that red stuff we can see in the picture, it looks a bit like polishing compound.
Yep, just some polishing compound. Came off pretty easily.

Quote:
I have been on the look out for one of these knives with a scabbard, but I have come to the conclusion that with or with out a scabbard they are thin on the ground.Tim
If this one is from Southern India, I agree that typical southern Indian edged weapons are hard to find. The Kerala knives, the adya katti and pinchangatti of the Coorg, Moplah choppers, and the Nias weapons are all scarce (and expensive).
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Old 4th July 2005, 06:34 AM   #5
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Default Maybe no Sheath

Tim,
If Stone is correct on pg 456: "The sword is carried without a scabbard, blade up, with the handle thrust inside the belt at the back." you're not going to find one with a scabbard. I agree with you that they aren't common. I grabbed the only one I ever saw for sale.
Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 4th July 2005, 11:31 AM   #6
Jens Nordlunde
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In ‘Hindu Arms and Ritual’ Elgood shows some choppers on page 70 fig. 6.3. One of them seems to be the same as the one Stone shows on page 180.

It is a nice chopper you show, and old as well, but I agree with you about the hilt. This one could be from the SW coast of India, but it is not what you understand under a Moplah chopper nor is it an Adya Katti, they are both heavier and look different.

On the picture below is an Adya Katti. Total length 54 cm, length of blade 41 cm.
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Old 4th July 2005, 01:29 PM   #7
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Ian, Here is another chopper from south India.
http://forums.swordforum.com/showthr...threadid=53613
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Old 13th July 2005, 02:13 AM   #8
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This one is pretty big, weighs over 4 lbs., not really sure what it is or what it was used for. Malabar chopper? Inside curve is sharpened as well as the "axe" portion. In Tirri's book he has a # of choppers from India, as well as some smaller sickels in the Malay/Indo section he refers to as Arit.
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Old 16th September 2007, 09:43 AM   #9
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Default Coconut Chopper - Aruvala

I was going through some older threads and just resurrected this one as I saw a chopper from kerala that Bill wanted an ID on.

We still see these choppers in kerala and this one is called 'Aruvala' - 'Vala' means edged weapon. I am not sure if they were used in war in kerala earlier, but they do come up in various sizes today. However their basic shape remains the same. The hilt is rarely as ornate as the one Bill has shown here.

They serve a unique purpose. The sharper edge is used to cut through thick grass and to dehusk coconuts. Once the coconut is dehusked, the other side of the Aruval is used to strike the coconut shell and split it into two. This is the use of the leading edge on the blunt face that you can see in Bill's photograph.

Kerala has the largest area of land under coconut cultivation till recently. Now cash crops like rubber, vanilla and cocoa are taking a toll on coconut. Incidentally, Kerala itself is derieved fron 'Kera' - Sanskrit for Coconut. The English word 'Coir' is inturn also derived from the same root 'Kera'.
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Old 16th September 2007, 08:44 PM   #10
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Hi Olikara,
Thank you so much for reviving this and bringing in this valuable information! It is always so rewarding to see threads that had important discussion going on identifying a certain weapon brought up with new evidence or material.
It is very kind of you to show such diligence in sharing such data.

All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 17th September 2007, 02:17 AM   #11
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Hello,

The last blade posted by Bill bears an uncanny resemblance to a western bill hook also known as a fascine knife. This European variant is purely a tool and not a weapon, used cutting brush and building fortifications. Could the above blade be an European one rehilted and adopted in India and SEA?
Attached are are some pictures I found on google.

Regards,
Emanuel
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Old 5th November 2010, 06:49 PM   #12
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Yes, all of these tools bear more than a superficial resemblence to the European billhook (only called a fascine knife in the USA). Working tool/weapon/ceremonial use must depend upon the context - but the billhook became the bill (halberd or pike) of the English foot soldier - and most when called to arms by their lord probably took their working handbill to the village blacksmith for a spike or hook to be welded on, and the tang changed to a socket for a longer handle - and off to war they went - if they survived they probably had it made back into a handbill. I saw a few that are obvious conversions from billhooks in the York museum (UK) some years ago...

But, I digress - even working tools were decorated (c.f. the billhooks and axes from Austria, Hungary and the Alpine regions of France and Italy) and handles could be plain or exotic, see: http://outils-anciens.xooit.fr/t1883...r-une-lame.htm (bottom of page) and http://outils-anciens.xooit.fr/t997-...htm?q=serpette

A working tool could thus become weapon or an object of beauty....
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