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A gold-mounted royal kukri knife

Number

3436

Origin

Nepal

Time

First half of the 20th century

Technique

Forging, casting, chiseling, embossing

Material

Steel, gold, horn, wood, leather

Dimensions

Overall length (without scabbard) 434 mm; blade length 328 mm; scabbard length 347 mm

The strongly forward-curved, single-edged blade is made of plain steel with a characteristic notch (cho) at the base and a short double fuller along the spine on each side. The hilt is carved from one solid piece of black horn with a transverse groove and a transverse annular protrusion (harhari) in the middle. The bolster is made of gold. The wooden scabbard is covered with black leather. The gold scabbard mounts are embossed with vegetal motifs. The Coat of Arms of Nepal is depicted on the obverse side of the scabbard locket, which indicates the high status of the knife owner. The scabbard is fitted with a leather strap and a double pouch on the reverse side, but the accessory tools are missing.

COMMENT. Kukri is the traditional Nepalese large knife, which is used both as a combat weapon and as a working tool. There are many variant spellings including khukri, khukhri and kukhri, but the original Nepali form of the name is "khukuri", which derives from the Sanskrit "kshura" meaning "razor". The kukri is effective as a chopping and slashing weapon due to its heavy single-edged blade, which is curved forward and expanded towards the tip. The hilt is generally straight without a guard. The kukri is worn in a scabbard, which is usually made of wood and covered with leather. Traditionally, it also holds two accessory tools called "chakmak" and "karda". The first of them is a blunt steel for sharpening the blade, while the second one is a small knife serving for minor works. The kukri is not just a famous weapon but also an important part of culture and heraldry of Nepal. It is most closely associated with the Nepalese professional soldiers, Gurkhas, who are widely known for their fighting skills and fearlessness. A special kind of kukri, which is characterized by rich decor and high quality, is called "kotchimora". Traditionally, it features an elegant silver-mounted scabbard, but there are examples with gold mounts as well. The kukri kothimora has always been a ceremonial weapon designed for the king, royalty, nobilities, highest-ranking government officials and military officers. In addition, it is given as a gift to foreign dignitaries and important guests. Many kukri kothimora are memorable gifts that are manufactured for the retiring Gurkha and British officers. Gold-mounted knives with the Coat of Arms of Nepal belonged to the king and members of the royal family.

LITERATURE: 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. 638-639, №273.