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Old 15th September 2021, 02:08 PM   #1
Kubur
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Default Cool Kukri

A cool kukri with an engraved blade...

Kalu Thapa appeared in a group photo published in 1896 from which this detail is taken. He was the most senior Gurkha officer, appointed Subadar-Major on 1 March 1890. The caption in the Navy & Army Illustrated refers to him as Sirdar Bahadur Kalu Thapa, decorated with the Order of British India, 1st Class, the Imperial Medal and the Frontier Medal with six clasps. He had served for more than 30 years, and fought in six campaigns. He retired on 5 Feb 1897. The regimental history lists him as the 4th Subadar-Major since 1870, and although two out of the first five were ĎSardar Bahadurí, Kalu Thapa is listed as plain Bahadur. He was, however, the only Honorary Captain out of 17 Subadar-Majors from 1870 to 1950.

The first recruits of the Sylhet Battalion had been men from the local district but in 1828 Gurkhas were drafted in from the Nasiri and Sirmoor Battalions and recruits from Pithoragarh. There were two Gurkha Subadars and two Jemadars. From that year the Gurkha element was steadily increased but it was not until 1886 that the regiment was officially titled the 44th Gurkha Light Infantry.
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Old 15th September 2021, 07:10 PM   #2
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Cool Kothimora scabbard. The Khukuri is a quality one too! Excellent back story to go with it!
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Old 16th September 2021, 01:59 AM   #3
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I LOVE the silver work on this kothimora! And how wonderful to have provenance!
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Old 16th September 2021, 07:49 AM   #4
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Thanks guys
thanks god it's not written made in China, covid free
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Old 16th September 2021, 10:36 AM   #5
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Speaking of provenance, that's a crude inscription for such an important guy. The "late 44th GR" reference means, I presume, that he was a member of the 44th Gurkha Rifles at the time of his retirement. However, when I looked up the naming of that regiment, it was not until 1901 that it became the 44th Gurkha Rifles. Since he retired in 1897, four years before the change in name, we have an anachronism with the inscription. It's a nice kukhri, and worthy of a distinguished soldier, but is the inscription genuine or added by someone else to inflate its value?

The chronology of the regiment's name is shown in the attached picture from the Wikipedia site devoted to this unit.

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Old 16th September 2021, 11:05 AM   #6
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Hi, Finaly a suspicious and negative comment.

Well just read well my post... The kukri should be in between 1886-1897.

"was not until 1886 that the regiment was officially titled the 44th Gurkha Light Infantry.
He retired on 5 Feb 1897"

I won't try to convince you or any other suspicious member about the quality of the engraving, but yes, it's not a British 19th c. engraving with Gothic letters.
I'm not a paleographist and neither are you...

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Old 16th September 2021, 12:39 PM   #7
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Kubur,

I am not a paleographist, but I have an undergraduate minor in English with particular reference to the Victorian period. Since you call into question my credentials for commenting on the inscription, I shall elaborate further.

The expression "late 44th G.R." is interesting for a couple of reasons. The use of the word "late" means previous or former. It can be used to describe the last place a person lived (e.g., Mr ..., late of The Strand, London). In another sense, it can refer to someone who has died (e.g., the late Mr ...) but that is not its use here. It is a word that was often found in obituaries of the 19th C and first half of the 20th C when describing a person's last place of employment, but less so today except in a somewhat formal and pedantic sense. In its use, the word "late" is used as a descriptor of someone else, and is not used to describe oneself.

From the use of the word "late" in "late 44th G.R.," we can deduce that the inscription was not composed by the owner, but by someone else to describe the owner. Furthermore, the inscription was written after the gentleman had retired.

Now look at "44th G.R.," which is recognized as the 44th Ghurka Rifles. I have already noted that this name for the regiment post-dated the gentleman's tenure. The presumed owner, a distinguished officer, would never have made such an error, which again points to someone else being responsible for this inscription, and also that the inscription post-dated a change in name to the 44th Ghurka Rifles.

Who was responsible for this inscription and why put it on the blade? I don't know, but the person seems to have had an education that included English as taught in the 19th and early 20th C. There are many reasons why someone may have done this, but one always has to be wary of an attempt to mislead and enhance the value of an item.

Last edited by Ian; 16th September 2021 at 12:55 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 17th September 2021, 06:20 PM   #8
Jim McDougall
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While kukri's are far from my fields of study, I had occasion to try to learn more on them many years back, and had several great communications for the late Byron Farwell ("The Gurkhas", 1984). Despite some great coaching from John Powell, I never got a foothold in them, but still recognize the fascination and regard for them as a weapon, as well as utmost respect for the Gurkhas.

I can see the consternation over this inscription, and it does seem if this was added in presentation, or commemoration, it would have had more wording and have been professionally done.

However, in the case of ownership, many weapons are inscribed with the owners name in less than professional manner, and tend to be simply the name without hyperbole. With regimental names of units, especially in the British army, often they were known colloquially by terms other than shown in official regimental records.

Naturally there is no way to prove such an inscription with the name of such a distinguished officer was not added spuriously.
However, I would suggest that is may have been added in a personal manner of ownership after he retired and perhaps wore this as a personal weapon.
It would be understandable that he would be extremely proud of his time with this distinguished regiment, and as this was post retirement, he would add his association as 'late' (ex). This is much in the manner that veterans in this country proudly wear regalia signifying their units and pride.

A very nice weapon, with intriguing historical possibilities. More research and forensics would surely reveal more, i.e. how long did he survive after he retired; was he involved in activities where he would have worn a weapon (many Gurkhas became involved in security work and associations).
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Old 17th September 2021, 09:08 PM   #9
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If these names are not confusing enough, the complexity of British regimental naming, numbering and amalgamations is over the top!

In entries I found that Capt. Kalu Thapa went to Shillong (NE INDIA/ASSAM)
in 1867 with 44th (Sylhet) Regiment of Bengal Infanty.
Apparently much later the 44th regiment became 1st Battalion of 8th Gurkha Rifles (1903)
It would seem that since he was never with the 8th, he held to the 44th, and the GR (Gurkha Rifles) was already long standing as the term for the regiment despite official designations.

By the turn of the century, Gurkhas were being recruited into military police, the Assam divisions here of course. One reference noted that Thapa is buried at Shillong.

While these are sundry notations found searching online, I believe there may be a solution :
perhaps as earlier noted, Kalu Thapa after retirement did serve in some capacity with the military police, and this could have been a personal weapon. Possibly recalling 44th and Gurkha Rifles standing as his personal identifier?

To me this sounds reasonably plausible, but I aint a paleontologist

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Old 18th September 2021, 11:49 PM   #10
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I see Kuburís point, but the kukri is clearly marked as 44 GR ( Gurkha Rifles) and it acquired its name only in 1901. Prior to that it carried other names.
Also, for a kothimora kukri the inscription is rather crude, isnít it?

I do not think there is an unequivocal evidence in favor of this inscription being 100% genuine. I might be wrong.
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Old 19th September 2021, 03:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
I see Kuburís point, but the kukri is clearly marked as 44 GR ( Gurkha Rifles) and it acquired its name only in 1901. Prior to that it carried other names.
Also, for a kothimora kukri the inscription is rather crude, isnít it?

I do not think there is an unequivocal evidence in favor of this inscription being 100% genuine. I might be wrong.

I see what you mean, but as I had suggested, this may well be a personally inscribed weapon, and regardless of the 'official' designation of the regiment, this is a 'casual' application, written in cursive. In addition, in seems interesting that the 'th' in 44th has what appears to be a 'Nepalese' sense, resembling the character of their letters in some cases.....certainly not normal cursive script in English.

Kothimora or not, is it not possible a personal weapon might be so inscribed reflecting the persons regiment 'unofficially' as it was probably colloquially known in the time he served in it? Naturally this is speculative, but seems worthy of consideration.
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Old 19th September 2021, 07:23 PM   #12
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Yea... I see what you are saying.
But as a rule , gifting a weapon was a ceremonial occasion.
We can speculate till the cows come home, but the name is there, and that cannot be disregarded.
No matter what, an extremely nice kukri with a potential of belonging to a real warrior.
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Old 19th September 2021, 08:28 PM   #13
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
Yea... I see what you are saying.
But as a rule , gifting a weapon was a ceremonial occasion.
We can speculate till the cows come home, but the name is there, and that cannot be disregarded.
No matter what, an extremely nice kukri with a potential of belonging to a real warrior.

Gifting a weapon was of course 'ceremonial' , no matter if privately done or in an event with fanfare. I am thinking of an inscription as a means of identification or ownership. If in circumstances where numerous people are involved, things such as tools etc. often had the owners name scribed or initials at least. As tenuous as this sounds, it does seem feasible.

If involved in a police situation as many Gurkhas were, they may have marked their weapons to prevent mixups (let alone being inadvertantly purloined). While initials often work elsewhere, there were so many the same in these contexts, more specific identity might have been better.
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