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An iron-hilted kora sword

Number

3409

Origin

Nepal (or East India)

Time

18th century

Technique

Forging, chiseling, engraving, chasing, embossing, patinating, gilding, lacquering, embroidering

Material

Steel, iron, gold, lacquer, wood, leather, silk

Dimensions

Overall length (without scabbard) 635 mm; blade length 510 mm; scabbard length 585 mm; belt length 1198 mm; belt width 85 mm

The thick, single-edged steel blade is strongly curved forward and expanded in the final quarter of its length. Each side of the blade is chiseled along the entire spine with a series of alternating rectangular slots, double S-scrolls and dot depressions between two narrow grooves. Some dot depressions have preserved the remains of gold. In addition, there is a large round rosette engraved and inlaid with red lac on the obverse side of the blade. The patinated iron hilt consists of a lobed disc guard, a faceted bulbous grip, and a lobed disc pommel surmounted with a large rounded button. There is a fluted iron collar between the guard and the blade. The broad wooden scabbard is covered with dark brown leather embossed with longitudinal lines and a single palmette on the obverse side. The upper half of the scabbard is girdled with five leather strips each is embroidered with silver thread in a vegetal design. The silver scabbard mounts is chased in relief with scrolling foliage against a fluted ground. The original leather sword belt is embroidered with colored silks and silver threads in vegetal patterns. The belt buckle is missing.

COMMENT. Kora is the traditional Nepalese chopping sword, which is designed for both combat and ritual purposes. It is actually an intermediate form between sword and axe. The heavy single-edged blade is strongly curved forward and is sharply widened toward the tip like a fish tail, which contributes to increase the power of downward blow. The blade is sharpened on the concave side. The straight short hilt usually has disc guards at either ends. At the present time, the kora (or khora, khuda, kouda) is used only for Hindu ritual animal sacrifices in Nepal and some states of India, where it is known as "kharga" and "jamdhar teg". The animal must be decapitated in a single blow, otherwise the sacrifice is considered useless. The presented sword was formerly part of the well-known collection of Charles Buttin (1856-1931). A similar example can be seen today in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (inv. no. 3072(IS), see Rawson, P.S. The Indian Sword. – London, 1968. – P. 53, fig. 28.

LITERATURE: 1) Buttin, F. Catalogue de la Collection d'Armes Anciennes Européennes et Orientales de Charles Buttin. – Rumilly, 1933. – P. 191, no. 766, pl. XXIV; 2) Сиваченко Е. Сталь и Золото: Восточное оружие из собрания Feldman Family Museum = Steel and Gold: Eastern Weapons from the Feldman Family Museum Collection. – Киев, 2019. – С. 623-622, №266.