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Thread: Review of IMA's "WWII dated" Small Bhojpures

  1. #1

    Review of IMA's "WWII dated" Small Bhojpures

    In this post I would like to review one of the new categories of kukris offered for sale by International Military Antiques (IMA). These were part of the cache of Nepalese arms and weapons purchased in Katmandu and are not for sale through Atlanta Cutlery. Officially IMA has identified them as small, late, examples of the Bhojpure design that were stamped with English broad arrows and issued in WWII dated scabbards. These examples first became available slightly after IMA started to offer WWI dated Bhojpures and have yet to receive much attention or discussion by the on-line collecting community.

    In truth IMA’s description of the blades, and the sample picture on their web-page (which does indeed looks like a small, late, crudely finished Bhojpure) did not interest me and I was going to ignore the offering. But my wife bought me one for Christmas, and I’m happy to say that what I got actually bore no resemblance to the item description. Since then I have assembled a small group, each more interesting than the last. Please see the detailed measurements of my examples bellow:









    Blade A: Mark II profile

    Total Length: 42 cm
    Length of Blade: 32.5 cm
    Depth of Blade: 6 cm
    Handle: 9.5 cm
    Point of Balance: 12 cm ahead of bolster
    Thickness of Spine: 11 mm
    Weight: 661 grams

    Notes: This blade is the heaviest of the three and feels robust. It has a well formed kaudi and two fullers on each side. The bottom of the handle has been sanded (perhaps as part of an old repair) but still bears the Nepalese number ‘2’. The blade itself has a few nicks and shows clear signs of use. In addition to the broad arrow stamped on the left side of the blade, the spine is marked with the English numeral ‘3.’ In size, profile and feel this blade actually resembles a Mark II more than a Bhojpure model. The scabbard is a Mark II model dated 1944. This knife was received in February of 2010.





    Blade B: Sirupate-ish profile

    Total Length: 44 cm
    Length of Blade: 34 cm
    Depth of Blade: 4.8 cm
    Handle: 9.6 cm
    Point of Balance: 14 cm ahead of bolster
    Thickness of Spine: 8mm
    Weight: 502 grams.

    Notes: The blade is slender and well balanced with a V-shaped profile and shoulder well forward of the bolster creating a unique geometry. The blade has a single old style fuller and has a Nepalese script unit mark on the spine. The broad arrows are stamped twice on the left side of the blade near the kaudi, with the first attempt being a missed strike. The kaudi itself is shallow and the handle is skinny. Compared to the heavy, broader, blades that typically emerge from this cache the current example is notably lighter and a little “sirupate-ish” in profile. There are both file marks and knicks on blade indicating that it has been used and resharpened in the past. Its scabbard is a standard issue mark II model dated 1943 with minor worm damage. This blade was received in April of 2010.



    Blade C: Small Fighting knife

    Total Length: 41.5 cm
    Length of Blade: 30.5 cm
    Depth of Blade: 4.5 cm
    Handle: 10 cm
    Point of Balance: 10 cm ahead of bolster
    Thickness of Spine: 8 mm
    Weight: 447 grams

    Notes: This kukri feels and handles like a small fighting knife more than a camp tool or a chopper. The blade is quick but appears to show multiple open welds on both sides. Of the three only this example is marked with a broad arrow on the right hand side of the blade. Further, the size of the stamp differs slightly from example A. Like the others the blade shows signs of wear and sharpening. The handle has a pleasing luster and is well finished compared to most of the examples that I have seen from this cache. The kukri is interesting in that it has a tall bolster (6 mm at the shortest point) not normally seen on early military knives. Due to its shorter stature it was fitted in a 1945 dated Mark III scabbard. This was the first knife that I received from this group in December 2009.



    In my humble opinion these blades do not resemble a group of late manufactured kukri for WWII. While these kukris may have been put in WWII dated scabbards, and possibly even carried during WWII, I suspect that in each case the blade is substantially older than its last assignment. For instance, both examples B and C more closely resemble the oldest fighting knives that I identified and discussed when reviewing the AC cache rather than later blades seen in the same hoard. Example B even has an identical unit mark to one found on a similarly shaped kukri found in the AC inventory. While lacking a broad arrow stamp, it is interesting to note that the AC kukri was stamped with the English initials ‘KB’ on both its bolster and handle. Further, both the unit mark on B and the numeral 3 stamped on example A appear older and more well worn than the broad arrow stamps seen on all three examples.



    What then is the ultimate origin of these knives? At the moment my best guess is that a large number of older kukris from different time periods were issued to Nepalese units being sent to serve in India during WWII as part of the treaty between Nepal and the UK. At some point in time (between 1943 and 1945) some of these knives were stamped with broad arrows and issued new Indian army scabbards to bring them up to inspection standards. Later when these units returned to Nepal they brought the Indian army scabbards with them.

    Rather than representing a period of manufacture the current IMA offering actually represents a period of use, and there is some old and interesting stuff in there. I am particularly happy to find a knife as old and elegant as B in the set, and am in awe that something which was probably made before WWI was still in active service as late as WWII. If my little sample set is any indication this offering from IMA represents the best bang for the buck for those looking for a unique fighting kukri with a little bit of history behind it.

    As always I would love to hear if other SFI members have ordered any of these ‘WWII Bhojpures’ and what your experience has been like. Any additional thoughts about the dates and origins of the knives above are always welcome.

  2. #2
    Thank you for such a thoughtfull review Benjamin.

    The slender piece is a beuty, wil you etch to see if its hairpin laminated? {or othe rod or ribbon pattern.] It would be fascinating if it was & would poise so many questians.

    The broad arrows I agree are a conundrum, they apper to be so much newer than the great range of clearly genuine old kukri displaying them.
    Sadley I guess we may never know when such marks were added.

    Thanks for the time & effort taken in doing this appraisel of these curios pieces.

    Jonathan

  3. #3
    I recently saw another example of these come up on a discussion board which you can find here.

    This example is well worth checking out. Its very long and thin, I would go so far as to call it an elegant kukri. This reinforces my earlier impression that these blades from IMA might be one of the more interesting buys out there, and I may have to order another one of these and see if I can get lucky.

    Benjamin

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Austin, Texas USA
    Posts
    167
    I have been waiting for the chance to get one of these based on your posts, and am happy to finally have one to share. I apologize for the poor quality of my pictures.
    LOA 17", width 1 7/8".

    No markings on spine, two broad arrows on blade.

    Markings on scabbard, which accommodates this blade as a tight fit, typical relatively loose fit for a Mk2.

    By no stretch of the imagination is this a WW2 vintage kukri, IMO. I believe your "best guess" is the most likely explanation for this unusual combination of "container and the thing contained".

  5. #5
    Thanks for posting you new find. It looks like you got a good one. I really like how smooth and worn that handle is. It tells you a lot about how much use this knife saw. Again, clearly pre-WWII.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Southern Germany, squeezed between black forest and Swabian Alps
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    1,087

    Another slender Military kukri

    Benjamin,
    I also would like to add a kukri of that style to this thread (though it isn't arrow marked). I received it nearly 6 months ago (which shows how far I'm lagging behind with my contributions) and came without scabbad or side knives.

    Thanky you so much for continously reviewing all kind kukris here, it was this thraed that convinced me that the money in such an example was well spent !

    the measures:

    Blade length: 36.6cm
    Handle length: 11.15 cm
    Max width: 4.8 cm
    Spine Thickness @ bolster: 10.5 mm
    Length overall: 46.55 cm
    Weight: 596 gram
    Balance point: Given by the pencil

    The feel of that blade is excellent and it handles really well. Looking at the fullering the handle and the overall make (roughness of the bolster, how the bolster is fitted with the handle, etc.) it shows some resemblance with the AC "long leaves".
    But the feeling is far superior to those.

    It is marked at the spine - the letters didn't hit clearly. The first is most likely a K; the second could be a miplaced H or P, while the 3rd is a clear D. Followed by the number 807 - which is (to my understandin) one digit short to be soldier number.

    So any info is much appreciated !
    Thanks a lot again - Andreas
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    As lo, the boy looked upon the beauty of the forward curved blade, and beauty stayed his hands
    and from that day forward, he was financially doomed.

    King Kukri, 2005

  7. #7
    Andreas,

    Thanks so much for posting your example. I agree totally that it is of a very similar type and seems to have also had a somewhat complicated service life. The shape of your knife is also wonderful.

    I suspect that the inscription is actually KBD, and this blade deserves its own thread. I say that because the KBD stamp is one of the mysteries that I am currently working on. I have collected about half a dozen examples of different variants of this stamp. While all English language stamps are rare, this is perhaps the most frequently encountered (at least in my experience) and hence it needs an explanation. I have found KBD marked examples in both the IMA and AC sections of the Kathmandu cache.

    I was going to wait to put up a post on these until I had solved the riddle of the inscription. Its not a known British unit. In fact none of the English language stamps that I have encountered on these kukri's correspond to known regular British units (at least not ones that I am aware of.) Other options that I have considered are that these are the initials of an officer or inspector, that these letters correspond to an irregular unit along the North West Frontier, or that they denote a supply depot that is not commonly encountered (the Kalibad Supply Depot or something). Hopefully this will inspire me to get my examples photographed and posted and maybe we can pool our collective wisdom to figure out why there are so many kukris with the KBD stamp.

    Thanks again,
    Benjamin

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