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Old 16th October 2022, 06:39 PM   #1
RobT
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Default Unknown Short Sword

Hi All,

Has anyone seen one of these before. The hilt looks like a Kachin dao hilt. The ferrule is exactly the same as a khukri ferrule. The 19" (48.26cm) kopis blade looks like a huge, curved warncliffe and appears to have been made from a file (one heck of a whacking big file at that). The spine of the blade is just under 3/8" (9.525cm) at the hilt and shows no real distal taper until the down curve at the tip. There is a 1-5/8" (41.275mm) ricasso and the blade is symmetrically ground. The sheath is black leather wrapped wood. The leather wrap is expertly stitched along the back with a single seam from throat to tip. Under the leather, there appears to be a cord binding holding the upper portion of the sheath together. There is a decorative leather flap below this binding that appears to have had one time some sort of leather suspension loop.
It is important to note that the ferrule fits the hilt and blade perfectly and the blade fits into the sheath just as well, so this isn't some sort of cobbled together chimera. All of the components are consistent with Nepalese manufacture but I have never seen anything like this before.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 16th October 2022, 08:37 PM   #2
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Reminds me of a Filipino ginunting.
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Old 17th October 2022, 12:24 AM   #3
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The construction of handle and scabbarde reminds me a Kukri
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Old 17th October 2022, 04:43 PM   #4
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It reminds me of what they call "Tinari/Binulang" in Waray-speaking areas of Eastern Visayas, Philippines. Though your scabbard and hilt look different.

Similar blades in the Philippines that have similar profiles to this are the modern Ginunting from Hiligaynon-speaking areas and the Sinampalok from Tagalog and Bicolano provinces. With that being said, I cannot really be certain that your blade is from the Philippines.

Edit: Image not actually mine, please take down my post if ever it's not allowed.
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Old 18th October 2022, 04:05 AM   #5
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Default Nepal Most Likely

Thanks to All Who Responded,

Despite the blade on my sword resembling Philippine blades (ginunting, tinari/binulang, sinampalok), the hilt, ferrule, and sheath don't look at all like anything from the Philippines. As I pointed out in my first post, the fit of all the components to one another makes it clear that mine is not a composite piece. That being the case, the ferrule, which is so characteristic of Nepal must be considered the most important identifying characteristic.
When you think about it, outside of the big three (khukri, kora, tulwar), we know nothing about traditional weapons in Nepal and given the large number of ethnic groups in the country, it would seem likely that more than the aforementioned three are present. I think my sword is one of them.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 18th October 2022, 06:28 AM   #6
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Rob,

I think you are correct. We know relatively little about less common swords from Nepal. You have argued persuasively that your example has a strong Nepalese flavor. Perhaps we can agree that, until someone comes up with another similar example with a clear provenance, we have a presumptive attribution to Nepal for your example at this time.

A while back I wrote about the hansia, a work knife of Nepal and northern India. It is another with a curved blade sharpened on the concave edge, but th curvature is much more pronounced than your example.

Ian.

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Old 19th October 2022, 08:06 PM   #7
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The hasyia is a Nepali sickle, ubiquitous to the farmer women for harvesting crops, it is carried on a rope baldric attached to a wooden carrier block & most of the blade is exposed, generally carried on the back. Certainly would not recommend anyone attacking a lady carrying one with anything less than a rifle from a distance.


The OP's blade could be a more shallow curved variant.


A fancy one for us westerners from a khukuri company, and a tool rack with three, a straight one, and another on it that looks rather similar 5to OP's, just all are rusty.
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Old 19th October 2022, 11:06 PM   #8
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I think that with a piece like this we might not be able to make a pure ethnographic connection. We aren't considering this to be a particularly old weapon, are we? It has already been noted that the blade is made from a large rasp or file. In contemporary times blade smiths can get ideas and parts from all kinds of sources. I certainly see the similarity of the hilt and handle to the kukri. Does that necessarily mean the origin is Nepal? what is a smith just happened to have these parts lying about and decided to fit them into his next project. People build with the parts they have available to them, ergo the file as a blade.
The shape of the blade is indeed very much like a Filipino ginunting or tinari/binulang. And my first thought when i saw that tab of leather on the sheath was that same feature is often found on tengere sheaths like the one i posted below from Charles' collection. Of course, these traits don't identify this definitely a Filipino anymore than the ferrule identify it as Nepal. It seems a bit tricky to place the origin of a weapon on merely one feature like a ferrule. Since no one has ever seen anything else quite like this it is possible that this could have been a one-off project made by a smith from just about anywhere, using influences of other ethnographic weapons he has seen...or it could indeed be a less common swords from Nepal that no one here has ever seen before.
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Old 20th October 2022, 05:21 AM   #9
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Default Occam's Razor Reasoning

David,

Please allow me to take your points in order. This will allow you and other forum members to spot any flaws in my reasoning.
As far as age goes, I am more inclined to say that the condition of all the components of the piece, rather than it having been made from a file indicates 20th century manufacture. Even if the file were not Nepali made, the British have been a presence in Nepal for a long time and it could have been one of theirs. As an example, 19th century Assam daos were often fashioned from hoes taken from tea plantations and often still carry the name or logo of the English firm that made the original tool.
As an aside, I am very sure my piece is a weapon but Iím not 100% sure that it is a combat weapon. I canít agree that it was used for vegetable harvest or clearing brush because itís too large and heavy for that, Nor can see it being used by by a butcher for livestock slaughter because the quality is too good. However, I can see it functioning as a sort of dťclassť ram dao in a small village.
Back on topic, I would now like to address the hilt and ferrule matter. I find it hard to accept that a smith from outside of Nepal (or Northern India adjacent to Nepal) would have a khukri ferrule and a Nepali style hilt just lying around and I find it equally unlikely that a smith from outside of that sociocultural area would choose to fashion a blade to fit such items. It sounds like the tail wagging the dog. Besides, who could he sell it to? Who would want to buy a sword with a hilt and ferrule that looks weird? Blades get around but hilts, hilt furniture, and sheaths donít. Blades from Western Europe were exported all over the world but they are found without exception fitted with native hilts and sheaths.
While the blade profile of my sword to some extent matches that of some Philippine blades, the blade features arenít a good match. First of all, many of the traditional blades are chisel ground and the ricassi are of a shape typical for such Philippine blades (the modern made versions are an exception).
That leaves us with the sheath. A wood sheath wrapped with incised black leather stitched up the back is stereotypical of the Indian subcontinent. So too is the practice of binding the upper part of the wood pieces together with twine under the leather. AFAIK, that style of binding isn't found anywhere in the Philippines. While a leather flap can be found on many Visayan sheaths, the style of the flap on my sheath doesnít really match the Philippine ones.
In conclusion, we have a hilt that is typical of Nepal, we have a ferrule that is typical of Nepal, we have a sheath that is typical of Nepal, and we have a blade of an unknown type. Would not the most logical conclusion be that this is an unknown type of short sword from Nepal or an area within close proximity to Nepal?

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 20th October 2022, 04:06 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=RobT;275700]As far as age goes, I am more inclined to say that the condition of all the components of the piece, rather than it having been made from a file indicates 20th century manufacture. Even if the file were not Nepali made, the British have been a presence in Nepal for a long time and it could have been one of theirs. /QUOTE]


Is it a file? At first glance I thought so but when I looked closer, I am not sure the marks aren't decorative. They have an appearance somewhere between a basketweave and a meander. If it is a file, it seems a distinctive cut pattern that could help identify a location of manufacture.

I would love to see a picture of the spine to see if the cuts are on the spine as well that would indicate it was an old file without a blind edge. Also, I would like to see distal taper. Since the ricasso doesn't have the pattern, it would have had to have been a very thick file (not a rasp, those have notches cut with the spikey chips raised) and a distal taper at the end of the ricasso for the smith to grind out the lines.

To be my own devil's advocate I do see six lines from the "file" on the saber grind, but to its right is almost a folded steel pattern. The difficulties of analysis from a single picture.
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Old 20th October 2022, 04:22 PM   #11
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Rob, i believe you may have misunderstood the tract i was taking here. I am not advocating that this is a Filipino weapon. My point was that unless you can find other blades that fit this profile and dress, that it is difficult to establish much of anything about it's origins. All we have are guesses. I also agree with IP that it is difficult for us to confirm any of your conclusions without better, more detailed photos. It is not that i don't believe you could be correct. It is just that i don't believe we have enough conclusive information on this piece yet to make those conclusions.
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Old 21st October 2022, 12:41 AM   #12
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There certainly are some rarer blade styles in Nepal and surroundings. Especially examples of lesser age may be tough to attribute to specific countries/areas though.

Here an example with a scabbard that is also seen with khukuri; I've seen it attributed to Newari origins.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 21st October 2022, 07:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party View Post

Is it a file? ...

The pattern looks very much like a large hi carbon steel farriers rasp. They are used by farriers to file horse hooves, and I'd guess other hoofed animals, as well as used in wood work. They are frequently used in knife making, and the distinctive open cross-cut pattern may be partially left as a decorative sign of it's past.


Top: the rasp
Bottom: a knife made from a rasp, with deeper pattern showing
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Old 24th October 2022, 05:18 AM   #14
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Red face Unknown short sword

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobT View Post
Hi All,

Has anyone seen one of these before. The hilt looks like a Kachin dao hilt. The ferrule is exactly the same as a khukri ferrule. The 19" (48.26cm) kopis blade looks like a huge, curved warncliffe and appears to have been made from a file (one heck of a whacking big file at that). The spine of the blade is just under 3/8" (9.525cm) at the hilt and shows no real distal taper until the down curve at the tip. There is a 1-5/8" (41.275mm) ricasso and the blade is symmetrically ground. The sheath is black leather wrapped wood. The leather wrap is expertly stitched along the back with a single seam from throat to tip. Under the leather, there appears to be a cord binding holding the upper portion of the sheath together. There is a decorative leather flap below this binding that appears to have had one time some sort of leather suspension loop.
It is important to note that the ferrule fits the hilt and blade perfectly and the blade fits into the sheath just as well, so this isn't some sort of cobbled together chimera. All of the components are consistent with Nepalese manufacture but I have never seen anything like this before.

Sincerely,
RobT
Hello RobT,

IMHO, that's a ginunting (hasp file) and most probably from the Iloilo/Panay area. My basis is that the leather part (which serves for the blade not to slide down) of scabbard (which is not on the throat area) but on the upper part of the scabbard. Most (if not all of my blades (old) from that area has the similar feature). But then of course, it's just my opinion.
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Old 24th October 2022, 11:14 PM   #15
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Tanaruz, hard to say from the original picture, so I adjusted the contrast of the OP to get a better look at the leather-wrapped scabbard (attached). It does not look Visayan to me. While there is a superficial resemblance, the overall construction of RobT's sheath seems unlikely to be Visayan.

Wayne, thanks for the additional pics of the Nepalese sickle and other work knives. Ooops, where did Wayne's post with those pictures disappear to?

.
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Old 25th October 2022, 12:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Wayne, thanks for the additional pics of the Nepalese sickle and other work knives. Ooops, where did Wayne's post with those pictures disappear to?
Post #7, Ian?
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Old 25th October 2022, 12:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
The sheath is black leather wrapped wood. The leather wrap is expertly stitched along the back with a single seam from throat to tip. Under the leather, there appears to be a cord binding holding the upper portion of the sheath together. There is a decorative leather flap below this binding that appears to have had one time some sort of leather suspension loop.
If Rob were to post a pic of the backside, the construction differences to the Visayan scabbards would become more obvious, I guess.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 26th October 2022, 08:17 AM   #18
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The scabbard does remind me of my Nepali 'Bowie' knife's one. the ridge formed by the 'string' near the throat is to keep a slip-on frog from riding up.
I've been holding back on the photo until now.
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Old 26th October 2022, 06:04 PM   #19
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In my humble opinion, scabbard looks 100% nepalese, as much as bolster that is really similar to kukri ones.
The start of the sharpening have an indian/nepalese feeling too.
To me, the origine is quite sure
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Old 27th October 2022, 04:10 AM   #20
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Hi All,
Here are the photos that were asked for.

Interested Party,
Here are close ups of the spine and spine at the ricasso.

kai,
Here are pictures of the sheath back (1 full view and 1 close up).

kronckew,
Here are close ups of segments of both sides of the blade.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 27th October 2022, 10:36 PM   #21
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Thanks, Rob!

Clearly not Visayan IMHO.

Regards,
Kai
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