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Old 6th February 2023, 02:11 PM   #1
Iain
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Default Cambodian working knives

I have a couple of these, but figured they are worth a thread in case anyone else has examples. These are oddly not very common, but are quite interesting items. They are usually around 38-42cm long with very thick spines (usually more than 12mm at the base). Most are fairly basic, but I am fortunate enough to have one that is quite finely decorated.

I would be curious to see other examples.
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Old 9th February 2023, 07:26 PM   #2
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Hi Ian,

I have followed your thread since you started it but wasn't able to comment, I got out my gallbladder which has caused me great problems lately and since I have had only my smartphone with me in hospital from which I don't want to comment.
But I am very surprised that nobody has commented until now. Your both examples are very nice and seem to have a great age. I would like to see some close-ups, especially from the handles and the spine.
May I ask why you think that they are of Cambodian origin? So far I know Thai and Laotian chopper are very similar with partly different blade shapes. shrug:
Here is my example, I guess Thai origin, which I have shown here before: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...t=thai+chopper
It is 45,7 cm long.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 10th February 2023, 12:59 PM   #3
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Hi Detlef, thanks for posting yours. As you know attributions are often difficult in this region but I think we can say these are mainly a Khmer influenced design. Similar knives exist in Thailand and other parts of Laos but seem to usually have different tips and handle designs. In the case of your example I am positive it is Khmer because of the spine decoration. I previously owned a small chopper and make with the same style fo work which also were marked with the engraved name of the kingdom of Cambodia (កម្ពុជា). Pics attached.

So I think we can safely say this style likely comes from the area where modern day Cambodia meets southern Laos and Thailand.

I'm including some pics of the fancy handle on mine and the spines which are very thick.

Hope you are recovering well, I had the same operation some years ago.
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Old 10th February 2023, 03:01 PM   #4
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Great knives! Good to see them in this condition.
I have a Kokok (Mak) with the Cambodian attribution on the blade. Also some other features similar to the knives shown here.
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Old 10th February 2023, 04:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DhaDha View Post
Great knives! Good to see them in this condition.
I have a Kokok (Mak) with the Cambodian attribution on the blade. Also some other features similar to the knives shown here.
Nice example, I have seen several of these all marked in the same way. Likely all coming from the same workshop.
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Old 13th February 2023, 03:20 AM   #6
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Iain,

Thanks for posting these. Khmer influence certainly diffused to nearby areas, and I have seen Thai and Lao pieces that are reminiscent of some of the ones you show. What struck me as perhaps distinctive was the wooden lotus bud emerging from a brass rhizome on the hilt. This seems a more common representation of the lotus bud on Cambodian/Khmer edged weapons than seen on Thai or Lao swords. Thoughts?

The small "habaki" on your second example is reminiscent of some southern Vietnamese swords, perhaps traceable to past Japanese influence.
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Old 13th February 2023, 01:50 PM   #7
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Iain,

Thanks for posting these. Khmer influence certainly diffused to nearby areas, and I have seen Thai and Lao pieces that are reminiscent of some of the ones you show. What struck me as perhaps distinctive was the wooden lotus bud emerging from a brass rhizome on the hilt. This seems a more common representation of the lotus bud on Cambodian/Khmer edged weapons than seen on Thai or Lao swords. Thoughts?

The small "habaki" on your second example is reminiscent of some southern Vietnamese swords, perhaps traceable to past Japanese influence.
Hi Ian, thanks for your comment. yes the lotus bud style is often associated with this area and also with Khmer items, although certainly not exclusive to them.

The habaki feature I think is harder to pin to direct influence given the large Chinese influence in these regions as well, habaki, tonku, tomato, tomahto...

I think we can safely say these sorts of working knives, with blades are are adept at splitting materials like palm leaves, rattan, bamboo etc. were common across a very wide area and that attribution is probably best made on little features like the bronze ferrules and lotus bud pommels etc.
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Old 14th February 2023, 01:50 PM   #8
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Another a friend was kind enough to send me images of privately and gave permission to post here. His description, basically in agreement with my own thoughts on the use of these.

"Size 18-1.4 inches total, blade 12-1/4 inches, spine close to hilt thickness inch.

Date second half of 19thc.

Likely Cambodian or khmer regions of Thailand bordering Cambodia.

The cutting edge is blunt for 2-3/4 inches into the blade, allowing for longer grip for use as knife for small jobs, splitting rattan, palm, bamboo etc, blunt edge also for use as a scraper for removing bark etc.
The lotus type is worn due to much use, was likely more pointed when it started its life, the pronounced tip on these would be used in removal of palm fruits etc from outer shells, thinning rattan or palm for cordage.
A general all purpose tool come weapon."


All of these seem to exhibit the same manner of sharpening leaving a significant portion of the blade by the base unsharpened and quite thick. They are all fairly heavy towards the grip meaning there is a great chopping capability with the last 1/3rd of the blade.
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