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Inventory

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Vaishnavite Kukri

Place of Origin: Nepal

Date: 18th Century

Reference: 058

Status: Sold

Full Description:

A remarkable Kukri from Nepal with Sino-Tibetan revival influence.

The scabbard throat piece and chape of silver are beautifully pierced and chased, in a distinctive Himalayan style, with gilt dragons surrounded by stylised scrolls.  The dragon on the throat piece clutches a small object in his front claw, representing the elusive pearl.  Sometimes referred to as the “sacred pearl” of wisdom, and in Buddhism as the jewel in the lotus, a jewel that grants all wishes.

A similar configuration of a dragon entwined in curling scrollwork can be seen on a Nepalese pen case in the Victoria and Albert museum collection, see Slusser and Fuller (1987).  The MET also have a Bhutanese sword which has a dragon with similar characteristics chased on the center of the scabbard (2014.281a, b).  Please see

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/649101

Slusser and Fuller also comment that the vegetal motifs and the dragon, within the context of Sino-Tibetan art, did not enter Nepal much before the mid seventeenth century, so we can certainly say this kukri is no earlier, but from the prominent curved blade shape that denotes this as a ‘sirupute kukri’, we can say that this is a relatively early item, and a conservative date of 17th to 18th century should be applied until further evidence comes to light.

The horn hilt has a profile that follows the curve of the blade, the blade being perfectly balanced, and marked with three ‘eyelash’ marks, a widely imitated quality mark originating from blades made in Genoa.  The ‘cho’ knotch at the base of the blade is said to signify the female sexual organs, and as a practical solution, a blood drip.  The shallow cho as we see here is usually found on these earlier kukris and later develops into much deeper cho with a more pronounced central spike.

Both the Metropolitan museum (36.25.825a, b)

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/31624 and the Wallace collection (#2186) have kukris with similar scabbard fittings, silver and gold respectively, however neither have dragons incorporated into the design as we do on this example.