Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 45

Thread: Pesh Kabz

  1. #1

    Pesh Kabz

    I've had this chap for a little while now, which turned up in our local charity shop and haven't really looked into it in any way. It has an ivory handle, with a nice pattern on the blade, but it's a little knocked about. The Silver 2 Anna coins attached to the handle are dated 1907; would this be about the date it was made, or might it be of more recent manufacture?
    Attached Images Attached Images     

  2. #2
    It is a knife known as a Choora from Afghanistan.
    Although the date of 1907 may have had significance to the maker or buyer, I would date this particular example to a little later.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the reply; A Choora? Not sure I've heard of one of them, I'll have to have another look at it!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    https://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/
    Posts
    293
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wally View Post
    Thanks for the reply; A Choora? Not sure I've heard of one of them, I'll have to have another look at it!
    Choora and karud are the straight bladed versions of the pesh which has a curved blade, the choora has an eared hilt hilt and a distinctive look, the karud is more like a pesh but with a straight blade, there are variations of course, this is just in general terms.

  5. #5
    "Choora" or "chhura" is the Indian/Hindi term for what is called a "chareh" or "charah" in the Pathan regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. "Kard" is also used generically for a large or "sword" knife.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 12-18-2015 at 12:08 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    https://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/
    Posts
    293
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    "Choora" or "chhura" is the Indian/Hindi term for what is called a "chareh" or "charah" in the Pathan regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. "Kard" is also used generically for a large or "sword" knife.
    That may be true were these weapons originate but to collectors, dealers and interested individuals etc in the western world a "kard" is a straight bladed, single edged dagger from Persian, India, Afghanistan, Ottoman Empire and surrounding regions.

  7. #7
    Chhura (phonetically, "choora") literally means "a large knife or dagger"; but judging by the blade, what Dave has appears to me to be a chhuri (phonetically, "chooree") or "small knife or dagger". As for dealers et al., they have ignorantly corrupted the original meanings of words (e.g., calling the straight sword used in the Egyptian Sudan a "kaskara").

  8. #8
    You have to smile when everyone is basically right and still can't seem to agree!

    In this instance the most useful term for researching this particular knife is 'Choora'.
    As I initially said: "It is a knife known as a Choora from Afghanistan."

    We must remember that in many cases when we are looking at 'knives' or 'swords' from other cultures, often the most helpful terms for research (from our outside point of view) are those simple generic names brought back by the westerners that originally collected/cataloged these items.
    In short, while we may yearn for a specific proper name for these weapons, we may have to settle for a phonetic spelling in English of a general local word for 'knife'. Partly because the 'original' foreign collectors may have asked locals 'What is this called?' to be told simply (it's a) 'knife', but partly because often there won't even be a specific name for that particular 'knife' that would satisfy 'our' need for descriptive clarity.
    So we can find ourselves looking for hidden answers where none exist.
    Does that make these general terms wrong? Or just not as precise as our obsession for labeling would want when we are faced with slight variations from the same geographical area?

    So! Many well known 'names' for distinctive weapons from non-European cultures are simply the literal descriptive term in that cultures language: knife, sword, long knife, large knife, small knife, long handle, single fuller, double fuller, axe, saddle axe etc, etc.
    Some others are far more a construct of European collectors clear lack of defining local terminology.
    'Khyber knife' springs to mind.

    So for me the simple truth is that because of our obsession with cataloging and collecting, if we didn't sometimes use imprecise phonetic spellings of generic indigenous words we would have to completely invent 'names' for these items to distinguish them within our own collections.
    Or simply give them numbers on a scale invented arbitrarily by whoever first comprehensively cataloged them.

    Which is better?



    In the case of the 'Choora' the more contentious discussion is surely the lineage of these knives and the date of their development.
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 12-19-2015 at 06:41 AM.

  9. #9
    Great post, Gene, which sums up the subject admirably!
    Speaking of "inventing", there's that mysterious word "pulwar" for a type of Afghan sword similar to the tulwar. The word baffled Egerton, Rawlinson, and Rost, and rightly so. It evidently first appeared in a 19th-century Russian publication, written in French (hence the spelling "pulouar"), on Oriental arms. It may have originated as a misprint for "tulwar", or it may have been an obscure dialect word.

  10. #10
    P.S. The only 19th-century definition of "pulwar" (phonetic) or "palwar" that I can find in all the dictionaries and other sources, exclusive of the French one, is that of a native river boat of Bengal!
    Last edited by L. Braden; 12-19-2015 at 09:37 AM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    https://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/
    Posts
    293
    Here are some images that show the difference between what is called "karud". "pesh-kabz" and "choora", of course there are some examples that are not as easy to identify due to having traits from one of more types but in general this is how many collectors/dealers etc identify the three differing types. Discriptions gleaned from Artzi of Oriental Arms. I added a kard dagger and a kyber knife as well at the bottom for reference.


    Karud: Primarily a mail piercing, straight bladed dagger. 10-18 inches long. Blade abruptly narrowing at its base, with a pronounced T spine and many times with edge reinforcement rib. Massive handle, one piece or two slab grip on a full tang. It is well distributed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Persia and Central Asian Countries. They all show a similar blade and differ mostly in handle materials and scabbard decoration.





    Pesh-Kabz: A development of the karud, with a similar but re-curving blade and slightly down curving handle, perfected to be the best mail piercing blade. Reinforced edge and sometimes thickened tip. Two slab grip. It is well distributed in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.






    Choora: This is also a development of the karud with a similar blade, but usually smaller, 10-12 inches long. It has a very typical handle with grips composed of two or three sectors of metal, ivory, horn or a combination of all, with the pommel tips extending down more than in its brothers. Its distribution is limited to the areas around the borders of todays Pakistan and Afghanistan. It should be mentioned that later made such daggers are widely found in various antique arms fairs with a variety of grip materials ranging from wood to modern plastics.


    Kard.



    Kyber.
    Last edited by eric t; 12-19-2015 at 11:14 AM.

  12. #12
    Great stuff, eric! Thanks indeed!
    By the way, "karud" is the phonetic form of "karad" (accent on the first "a"), of which "kard" is a shorter but equally common version - "karad" evidently being more common in India.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Great post, Gene, which sums up the subject admirably!
    Speaking of "inventing", there's that mysterious word "pulwar" for a type of Afghan sword similar to the tulwar. The word baffled Egerton, Rawlinson, and Rost, and rightly so. It evidently first appeared in a 19th-century Russian publication, written in French (hence the spelling "pulouar"), on Oriental arms. It may have originated as a misprint for "tulwar", or it may have been an obscure dialect word.
    Thanks.
    It's an interesting question.
    Tulwar is such a misused label in itself that I guess the easiest answer would be to add one more sword to the list of those that it's applied to and conclude that it's a misprint or slight mistranslation due to accent.

  14. #14
    Following on from Eric's post, I'll add my views on the family of the pesh-kabz.
    I think that the Pesh/Karud seem to be parallel designs that served the same purpose. I don't agree that the Pesh-Kabz is a development of the Karud, I think that they are geographical/Ethnic variations of the same solution.
    They are often fine quality, sometimes 'knightly' quality daggers seemingly designed for efficient piercing.
    The Karud varies from an almost 'Kard' like blade to a more usual T-section blade, sometimes quite broad but more often slender and sometimes extremely slender, often lightly hollow ground with a thickened 'V' section cutting edge. Clearly a stabbing weapon strengthened to be light armour piercing.
    The Pesh-Kabz is a similar solution with a slender 'S' shape. Some of these Pesh and Karud have deliberately sharp angled sections at the tip, seemingly to open the round links of chain mail.
    I attach pictures of a Pesh that I own with this feature.
    Although the hilt scales are Nephrite and are rather heavy, the balance works and it would be hard to imagine a dagger that was a more perfect blend of form and function.

    The Choora seems to be the 20th century variation of the Karud. I know that some people have tried to argue that it's origins are at least mid 19th century, but I just can't see the evidence backing that hypothesis.
    That said and despite it's obvious 'embellishments' from it's purer earlier form, it seems to have lost little of it's efficient function.
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 12-19-2015 at 03:55 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    https://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/
    Posts
    293
    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Wilkinson View Post

    The Choora seems to be the 20th century variation of the Karud. I know that some people have tried to argue that it's origins are at least mid 19th century, but I just can't see the evidence backing that hypothesis.
    That said and despite it's obvious 'embellishments' from it's purer earlier form, it seems to have lost little of it's efficient function.
    I know of a few references to "choora" that are from the 1800s, one is a list of weapons in an Indian exibition, no way of knowing if it refers to the same dagger we now call a choora but it is there, from "A classified and descriptive catalogue of the Indian Department: The International Exhibition of 1862". By J. Forbes Watson, Volume 2. The second reference is from an even older book, "A compendious Grammar of the current corrupt dialect of the jargon Hindostan, George Hadley, Mirza M. Fitrut
    S. Rousseau, 1801. Again no way of knowing if this reference is about the Aghan choora. The third reference is from Afghanistan, 1874, "A Record of the Expeditions Undertaken Against the North-west Frontier Tribes: Compiled from the Military and Political Despatches", Lieut.-Colonel McGregor's Gazetteer, and Other Official Sources, Office of Superintendent of Government Printing, 1874. The forth is from Afghanistan, 1880, "The Cornhill Magazine, Volume 41", William Makepeace Thackeray Smith, Elder., 1880.

    Below that I have posted two signs from an Indian museum which shows how they describe certain Indian swords and daggers/knifes. Notice that what we call a "khyber knife" is called a "chura", a name that is mentioned in older texts, also there ia no "karud", they call both the straight bladed as well as the curved bladed versions pesh-kabz.

    Last is George Stones description of a "choora", it is hard to imagine that the choora is from the 20th century if Stone was describing it in his book which was published in the 1930s.

    A compendious Grammar of the current corrupt dialect of the jargon Hindostan, George Hadley, Mirza M. Fitrut, S. Rousseau, 1801.



    A classified and descriptive catalogue of the Indian Department: The International Exhibition of 1862.



    A Record of the Expeditions Undertaken Against the North-west Frontier Tribes: Compiled from the Military and Political Despatches, Lieut.-Colonel McGregor's Gazetteer, and Other Official Sources, Office of Superintendent of Government Printing, 1874.



    The Cornhill Magazine, Volume 41, William Makepeace Thackeray Smith, Elder., 1880.









    Last edited by eric t; 12-21-2015 at 02:59 PM.

  16. #16
    Great post, eric! Thanks indeed!
    Now we need to add charah, chareh, charay, chara, charra, charrah, etc. as the Pathan or Pashto version of the chura, churra, chhura, choora, etc.

  17. #17
    P.S. The so-called "Afgan Chura" (horrible spelling!) is actually the typical Pathan charah.

  18. #18
    Hi Eric,
    Great research there.
    The written references are interesting but seem to be more literal 'Large Knife' descriptions of what we ignorantly have always called 'Kyber Knives'.
    Your 'Types of dagger' pic does show the problem with labels. When I think 'Jambiya' I don't think Syrian/Druze, but there it is.
    As for the straight Peshkabz?

    As far as I'm aware............. (famous last words)
    The picture of the Choora in Stone's is the earliest that I've seen.
    So we know they were around in '34
    Seriously though, I've always thought these are 20thc. Around the turn of.
    If these daggers were widely used in the second half on the 19thc then I'd have expected them to come back to blightly en-massse with the Karud, Tulwar, 'Kyber Knives' and all the other souvenirs of the second Anglo-Afghan war.
    Stone was cataloging all periods. So we don't know if that dagger in his photo was a year old or a hundred years old.
    What we need is an example in a regimental museum with a cast iron provenance.
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 12-22-2015 at 12:14 PM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Rugby, UK
    Posts
    550
    Gene
    Interesting that the evidence points to the the Choora being developed late in the 19th and into the 20th century. Everybody considers it to be an anti armour (mail) weapon but seems to have been developed just at the time that armour was dying out. Is it likely that the lack of examples returning to Britain was because they were not used as much against British troops as the heavier slashing weapons? I believe there is some anecdotal evidence that Afghan tribesmen almost never used the so called Khyber Knife to stab but always to cut. Perhaps dedicated mail piercing weapons had simply fallen out of fashion at that time.
    The journey not the destination

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Guy C View Post
    Gene
    Interesting that the evidence points to the the Choora being developed late in the 19th and into the 20th century. Everybody considers it to be an anti armour (mail) weapon but seems to have been developed just at the time that armour was dying out. Is it likely that the lack of examples returning to Britain was because they were not used as much against British troops as the heavier slashing weapons? I believe there is some anecdotal evidence that Afghan tribesmen almost never used the so called Khyber Knife to stab but always to cut. Perhaps dedicated mail piercing weapons had simply fallen out of fashion at that time.
    If the knife that we call a 'choora' is essentially a 20thc but we can definitely see the 'Kyber Knife' described as 'Choora'.... Then are we seeing the obvious? Is the term 'Khyber Knife' actually more accurate than we (I) thought?
    If Choora means 'large Knife' then it's actually quite an accurate description of the damn things. They are a large knife which was presumably in use in the Khyber region?

    I actually wondered the same myself about a 20thc dagger being a ring splitter. I've always just thought of the Choora as more a general piercing dagger. Light armour or heavy clothing. Imagine the experience of the Afghan tribes in fighting the British with their heavy felt tunics? Perhaps the Choora was a development of the Karud to specifically kill redcoats?

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    https://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/
    Posts
    293
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Great post, eric! Thanks indeed!
    Now we need to add charah, chareh, charay, chara, charra, charrah, etc. as the Pathan or Pashto version of the chura, churra, chhura, choora, etc.
    Yes, now for the "khyber knife", despite what may seem to be a modern name you can find references to khyber knife as far back as the 1800s. There are as mentioned, several other names used for the same weapon. I have not seen "choora" directly attached to the khyber knife but there are several other names that are.




    Chambers's Journal, Volume 66, Issue 2, W. & R. Chambers, 1889.


    A Contribution Towards the Better Knowledge of the Topography, Ethnology, Resources, & History of Afghānistān, Office of the Superintendent of Government Print., 1871.


    Chamber's Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Arts, W & R Chambers, 1892.


    An Illustrated Handbook of Indian Arms: Being a Classified and Descriptive Catalogue of the Arms Exhibited at the India Museum, Earl Wilbraham Egerton Egerton, 1880.
    Last edited by eric t; 12-23-2015 at 04:41 PM.

  22. #22
    Great post again!
    There are numerous references to the charah under its various spellings. "Khyber knife" and "Salawar yataghan" are merely synonyms for this Pathan/Pashtun weapon, altho the latter is a misnomer - the true yataghan having, of course, a distinctly different blade. I assume that "Salawar" refers to where it was made - in NW India or thereabouts. In this regard, the only "Pulwar" I can find is the name of a river rather than a place name.
    Cheers!

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    https://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/
    Posts
    293
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Great post again!
    There are numerous references to the charah under its various spellings. "khyber knife" and "salawar yataghan" are merely synonyms for this Pathan/Pashtun weapon, altho the latter is a misnomer - the true yataghan having, of course, a distinctly different blade. I assume that "Salawar" refers to where it was made - in NW India or thereabouts. In this regard, the only "Pulwar" I can find is the name of a river rather than a place name.
    Cheers!

    The khyber knife can certainly be called by a few names, salawar yatagan should be last on the list and maybe that term should just be abandoned. It is a lot harder to justify calling the Afghan sword a "pulwar", that name seems to reference a boat or place/river etc, I have never seen even one early reference to any sword being called a "pulwar". Even "pulouar" much like salawar yataghan just suddenly appears and the modern use of both terms seems to come from Egerton. Even "karud", which is another mystery word is easier to justify. When you look farther back in time, before the use of "pulwar" came into use, the Afghan sword was called the Afghan tulwar, there are many references to it, to me that is a much more accurate and descriptive term.

    "Personal Records of the Kandahar Campaign", Waller Ashe D. Bogue, 1881.




    "Annual Report, Volumes 11-20", Wellington College Natural Science Society, 1881.
    Last edited by eric t; 12-25-2015 at 08:08 AM.

  24. #24
    Indeed, there's a "New York Times" article of Aug. 9, 1896, entitled "Afghans Use Tulwars", based on an interview with a British officer. However, "tulwar" is not an Afghan word, altho they may have adopted it. Their words for "tulwar" were "tegh" (generic) and "shamshir". As for Indian swords, according to Col. Lane Fox in his "Anthropological Collection", 1874 (a great work!): "Their forms are very various, and may undoubtedly be traced to certain root forms." He then lists different varieties in their phonetic spellings: "Bichwar, Pushkubz, Kyjar, Chellanum, Khunjar, Tulwar, Shumshere, Furrung, Mahomood, Sulawar [note that!], Kookree, Khora, and others."

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    https://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/
    Posts
    293
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Indeed, there's a "New York Times" article of Aug. 9, 1896, entitled "Afghans Use Tulwars", based on an interview with a British officer. However, "tulwar" is not an Afghan word, altho they may have adopted it. Their words for "tulwar" were "tegh" (generic) and "shamshir". As for Indian swords, according to Col. Lane Fox in his "Anthropological Collection", 1874 (a great work!): "Their forms are very various, and may undoubtedly be traced to certain root forms." He then lists different varieties in their phonetic spellings: "Bichwar, Pushkubz, Kyjar, Chellanum, Khunjar, Tulwar, Shumshere, Furrung, Mahomood, Sulawar [note that!], Kookree, Khora, and others."

    I think the concern here is not what the words for certain weapons were in their native lands and language but what were the first common terms used by early foreign visitors who saw and wrote about these weapons (armor as well), and how did we arrive at the current usage. It is clear that many people who saw the Afghan sword did not consider them to be much more than a varient of the tulwar, it was only later that it was given its own name.


    Catalogue of the Anthropological Collection Lent by Colonel Lane Fox for Exhibition in the Bethnal Green Branch of the South Kensington Museum, June 1874, Volume 1, G.E. Eyre, 1874.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •