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Thread: Review of some Bhojpures

  1. #1

    Review of some Bhojpures

    I would like to continue my series of posts systematically reviewing the Atlanta Cutlery/IMA Katmandu cache of Kukris by turning our attention to the Bhojpures. Obviously this is more of a trade name than anything else. Given that many of these knives bear the same numeral 2 stamped into their handles as the Long Leafs knives I think that we can assume for the moment that these too are Gurkha Army Models, but probably from the interwar period. More specific dating is made difficult by the fact that these knives show a variety of manufacturing techniques and blade types that could reflect either the period of time across which they were made, or more likely, differences in equipment between the individual workshops that were cranking them out.

    The Bhojpure, or Short Gurkha Army Model, is one of the most common kukris in the Nepalese cache. At my last visit to the Atlanta Cutlery warehouse I saw a couple of crates of these knives that were too large to accurately estimate their total contents. I would say I saw at least a thousand knives myself and there very well could have been more of these hanging around in unopened crates, or in the boxes of blades that had either lost, or never been fit with, handles. Interestingly it also seemed to me that there were more scabbards for these shorter models than the older and longer Gurkha Army kukri. Overall I found the general condition of these knives to be good, similar to the Long Leafs and better than the “WWI Vintage” kukris (which while very nicely made knives often look as though they were ridden hard and put away wet.)

    A: Bought from IMA the first year these were out.
    Total Length: 42 cm
    Length of Blade: 32 cm
    Length of Handle: 9.8 cm
    Blade at its widest part: 6.5 cm Narrowest: 4 cm
    Spine at widest: 12 mm
    Drop: 9.5 cm
    Point of Balance: 12 cm forward of bolster
    Weight: 650 grams

    This was one of the first kukris I purchased. It is by far the most massive of the examples in the current group, and in many ways it simply resembles a slightly shortened version of the classic Gurkha Army model. This can been seen in the very thick spine, the wide profile of the blade, the general feel of the knife in the hand, and the finish. It looks as though this knife was made by exactly the same people who made the long leaf model, or at least it was made using the same set of techniques. However this is not the case for most of the knives in this group. The blade is generally clean and still sharp with no markings. The handle is round in profile and made of some type of hard wood. The bottom of the handle is marked with a Nepalese script numeral “2” and an unknown character that shows up on most kukris from this group (see bellow for a picture of a better example of this stamp).

    B: Bought sight unseen from AC in November 2007.
    Total Length: 42 cm
    Length of Blade: 32 cm
    Length of Handle: 9.7 cm
    Blade at its widest part: 5.7 cm Narrowest: 3.3 cm
    Spine at widest: 9 mm
    Drop: 9 cm
    Point of Balance: 12.5 cm forward of bolster
    Weight: 630 grams

    This knife was a Christmas present that my wife ordered for me in 2007. The blade shows a markedly different profile from example A, being more slender. However, the length of the blade, and the total length of the kukri are exactly the same. The blade shows more discoloration throughout, but overall the knife is solid and in good shape. The blade was never given a smooth finish polish like A and shows grinder marks. Likewise, the handle, while solid, never received a finish sanding, leaving it with a slightly rough texture. The bottom of the handle is clearly stamped with the unidentified mark, but in this case lacks the numeral “2”.

    C: This knife was hand picked from AC stock in September 2008.
    Total Length: 41 cm
    Length of Blade: 31.5 cm
    Length of Handle: 9 cm
    Blade at its widest part: 5.5 cm Narrowest: 3.3 cm
    Spine at widest: 9 mm
    Drop: 9 cm
    Point of Balance: 12 cm forward of bolster
    Weight: 495 grams

    This knife was not randomly sent out. It was hand-picked out of AC warehouse because of its clean condition and its marked spine. While the blade is very clean it does show clear signs of use and damage along the edge. Looking at the number of places where the cutting edge of the blade rolled over I wonder if there may have been some problem with the tempering of this knife. That said the problems are small enough that I suspect they would polish out if the knife were re-sharpened. The fullers on both sides of the blade are roughly executed and show clear sign of grinder overruns. The blade itself is of a similar style to B, but shows more extensive machine marks. The handle is also similar to B but shows a numeral ‘2’ in addition to the unknown symbol. The back of the spine is inscribed: 2R 535. I suspect that this stamp is missing a ‘D’ and is the same one that can be seen on this example here. It is also interesting to note that the font that these numbers are stamped in appears to be the same as that which was used on my Long Leaf with English numbers.

    Lastly this knife is light. It is fast in the hand and doesn’t feel anything like example A. While the blade is basically just as long its clear that this knife wasn’t intended to be a “chopper” by whoever made it. In many ways its construction, including the heavy use of machine tools and light weight, reminds me more of the “WWI vintage kukris” than the Long Leafs.

    D: This knife was hand picked from AC stock in September 2008.
    Total Length: 42.5 cm
    Length of Blade: 32 cm
    Length of Handle: 10 cm
    Blade at its widest part: 6 cm Narrowest: 3.9 cm
    Spine at widest: 9 mm
    Drop: 9.3 cm
    Point of Balance: 11.5 cm forward of bolster
    Weight: 550 grams

    This knife was also hand picked from the AC cache. The dimensions are very similar to the others, but the level of fit and finish is much nicer. While the blade has sustained some pitting due to water damage the unaffected areas show that it was at one point polished to a satin finish. Likewise the handle is made of a dark dense wood and has received detailed carving (see above). There are no marks on the bottom of the handle, and the fullers on the blade are shallow, either because they were carved that way, or possibly because their depth was reduced when the blade was polished. I can’t say for sure, but they do appear to be in a different style from the other examples reviewed here. This sort of treatment appears to be very rare in the AC/IMA cache. The guys are the warehouse said a couple of other examples had come up, but that they were exceptional. It is the only example I have encountered in my exploration so far. I suppose the obvious question here is whether or not this kukri should actually be included in this group or not.

    E: This knife was purchased sight unseen from AC in June 08
    Total Length: 42.3 cm
    Length of Blade: 31.5 cm (rounded from sharpening or damage).
    Handle Length: 10.5 cm (Replacement)
    Thickest Part of Blade: 6.5 cm Narrowest: 4 cm
    Drop: 9.3 cm
    Thickness at Base of Spine: 10 mm
    Point of Balance: 5 mm forward from the break of the shoulder.
    Weight: 630 grams

    I bought this blade for my Father in 2008. It came with a scabbard in very good condition and the two accessory knives were both marked with “9”s. This blade has seen some history. Its evident that nicks have been ground out of the blade, the handle is long, crude, and evidently a replacement. The bolster shows some deformation from where the new handle was added. The blade may originally have been 32 cm but the point is very rounded. The steel is shiny with dark spots and moderate pitting on the left side. The kauri seems to be shaped more like a vulva than the typical Shiva/hoof symbol.

    I think that this collection gives us a pretty good sense of the range of variation in terms of shape and condition that can be found in this group. These are all very workable knives and many of the examples I have examined show signs that they have seen extensive use. Personally I think that these knives feel better in the hand than the Long Leafs, but still aren't quite as nicely done as the 'WWI Vintage" examples. In terms of dating the various models in the cache I would current place the Sirupate and then the Papu models as being the oldest, followed by the “Long Leafs”, then the “Bhojpure” and lastly the “WWI Vintage” blades. So basically I’m guessing that the Bhojpure knives were probably made during the 1920s.

    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on these examples or seeing examples of other Bhojpure knives from either AC or IMA.

  2. #2
    I almost forgot. Here is a group shot of four of knives reviewed above to give an added sense of perspective on the relative shape of their blades. Enjoy:

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Austin, Texas USA
    Thank you for a fascinating and very thorough review. Those of us who aren't able to visit the mother lode are indebted to you.

  4. #4
    Excelent thoughtfull & fascinatng review Benjamin, my only regret is you wernt there doing this research when they had 14,000 of varios kukris, as youve given the most thourough & I belive accurate appraisel & deductions of what youve seen there.

    I only have one Atlanta Bhojpure, Its nearly identical to your first one, clearly traditionaly hand made in the style of the Longleafs.

    Personaly I think some may be much older than others as they were just catogarised in general on shape & size I belive?

    When JP identified them as "Bhojpure" kukri for Atlanta, it was from a much more delicate & finer looking piece with a very unusual diamond shaped bolster that bears no resemblace to any other kukri Ive seen.

    Intialy all ther mk.2s were sold as ww1 issue till I pointed out to Pradeeep that they were mostley dated from ww2. A point they then corrected although a few people still recieved the odd ww1 dated kukri sold as ww2!

    I thourougly enjoyed reading your article its nice to find such solid & reliable research on kukri.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Ljubljana, Slovenia
    So if I understand correctly, there are still loads of unmounted blades at the AC warehouse? Do they actually sell them? I checked the website but couldn't find anything.

  6. #6

    No, they don't sell them through their mail-order business. You have to actually go to the warehouse to buy these, the same as you do for the military swords and rarer rifles in the cache. I used to think that this was pretty odd, but after visiting their storefront and talking to the guys at the warehouse it turns out that they have enough visitor to move the merchandise this way as well.

  7. #7

    Many Thanks


    Thanks for your words of encouragement. I too wish I could have seen the stockpiles when they were fresh. I wonder if anyone has ever visited IMA and taken a look at what was shipped to them? That would really help to bring the whole picture together.

    "Personaly I think some may be much older than others as they were just catogarised in general on shape & size I belive?"

    This is something that I have been thinking about quite a bit lately. The same issue also came up when we were discussing the "WWI Issue" knives. There are only two possibilities when looking at the immense variability within these groups. Either these knives were made over a long period of time, or they were made by a variety of small shops that had access to very different levels of manufacturing technology. I'm not yet sure that we can conclude which of these theories is more likely just by looking at the knives alone. Heck, it is entirely possible that in the case of Bhojpures the first theory is right, and for the latter knives the second one is more accurate. Right now I don't feel like I have a good handle on it.

    As to how the knives were categorized, my friend (who is working with me on this project) and I are planning on conducting some in-depth interviews with some of the individuals who actually excavated this stuff in Nepal and packed it into the crates. So far everyone has been very helpful and willing to talk, so hopefully we will be able to figure out more details about how and where the knives were stored, and how much sorting went on as everything was being packed up.

  8. #8
    Benjamin, I cant disagree with your reasoning there, we are left to surmise quite a lot, I agree at many periods {say between between the world warsfor example.} there would be a vast differance in avalable technology in different shops, There is even today.

    I am unaware of any researching visits made to IMA regarding kukri.

    Look forward to your futre work & thoughts about this cache.



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