With iron, silver overlaid hilt. Its associated scabbard features fine quillwork.
Sheathed 51.7 cm
Knife 47.1 cm
Base 8 mm
Middle 7 mm
5 cm before tip 4 mm
Narrowest 33 mm
Widest 59 mm
12.5 cm from hilt
Iron, steel, wood, leather, silver, brass, turquoise, cotton thread
Second half 19th century
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An unusually large example of this type of silver-mounted khukuri. The impressive blade is of laminated steel. It has two narrow grooves along the spine at the base with two wide fullers running alongside it. Where the grooves terminate, a third fuller emerges, making a total of three fullers that sweep up and terminate just before the tip. The construction results in a relatively light but stiff blade. Among collectors this configuration is known as tin chirra, or "three splits", referring to the ridges, and not the depressions.
The kauṛo ( कौड़ो), that notch at the base of the blade, has an unusual shape where it's center protrusion splits into three, forming what resembles a stylized lotus. The grip is dark wood, pressed against an iron bolster. Bolster and grip have bands of checkering for improved grip.
The scabbard is fitted with a very large silver chape, called kothi (कोथि) of the traditional distorted lozenge-shaped profile with a strong center ridge. It is decorated with several rows of geometric and floral designs in relatively high relief. A nice touch is that the designs are slightly different on either facing side.
The scabbard throat piece consists of floral scrollwork in repousse, pierced to reveal the red velvet underneath. The various sections are framed with applied braided silver wire. The lower section of this fitting shows a flowering plant with a stylized tiger on either side. At the mouthpiece, two snakes are engraved.
The scabbard is further ornamented with thick bands of braided silver wire that wrap around and meet at a circular ornament at the center, beset with a turquoise.
At the back of the scabbard is a pocket that holds the khisā (खिसा), a little purse that was usually used to store tinder. It also contains the karda (कर्द), a small utility knife, and the cakmak (चक्मक्), a steel used for striking on flint to light the tinder, and for sharpening the knife. Both karda and cakmak have silver hilts worked in repousse.
A similar example was offered by William Ockleford Oldman in his Catalogue of Ethnographical Specimens No. 99, Vol. viii of June 1910.
Top: Khukuri offered by W.O. Oldman in 1910.
Bottom: The subject of this article.
It was described as:
"3 (26237) Knife, "Kukri;" hilt of engraved silver, leather sheath almost covere with pierced and engraved silver, silver chain attached. Fine specimen. Length 19 ins. Nepal. £3/3/0"
It re-appears in his catalog 121, April 1912, described as:
"4 (26237) Knife, "Kukre;" fine silver mounted hilt and sheath; silver chain attached. Length in sheath 50 cm.
Comparison between the Oldman example (left) and this example (right).
The Oldman example seems to have a metallic grip, but otherwise is very similar to this example, including the silver chain and the double lion iconography on the plate under the mouthpiece.
Update, May 12, 2020
It appears that the example illustrated by Oldman was eventually acquired by S. G. Fenton, London, before 1927, and was then sold to George Cameron Stone, New York. It was bequethed to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1935 where it remains until today under accession number: 36.25.827a-e.
Top: Oldman / Fenton / Stone example now in the Metropolitan Museum.
Bottom: Our example.
In very good condition overall. One chip off the wooden pommel, happened long ago and now nicely rounded and patinated. Also one chip in the blade just forward of the belly.
Scabbard is in near mint condition, with only some minor damage to the leather.
The chipped handle, showing that it had chipped before and was repaired.
A wonderfully large example of the kothimora khukuri with a much sought-after three fullered blade. It is of a quality that was already collected by a notable dealer in the 1910s and probably dates from the second half of the 19th century.
1. William Ockleford Oldman, Catalogue of Ethnographical Specimens No. 99, Vol. viii. (June 1910.)
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Thought to have been presented by the Royal House of Nepal.
Signed: Ricky Milnes, India 44, Burma 44, Ramree 45.
A Madurese keris hilt, carved from dark hardwood in the form of a Dutch cuirassier.
Typical Chinese hook sword, with seldom-seen fine silver wire overlay.
The style typical of Kutch, the execution far above what is normally seen on work from that area.