Discarding the baroque obscurities of the vocabulary he learned from Husserl and Heidegger, this is some of what he was trying to point out: When we look around ourselves, we confront a world full of things that simply are what they are. This cup is a cup, this table a table, this pen a pen, full stop, end of sentence. We can learn to see those things as something other than they are—for example, if we study physics, we may convince ourselves that cup, table, and pen are in reality complicated patterrns of stresses in four-dimensional spacetime, or what have you—but that requires us to insert reflective thought between ourselves and the world.
This image, more than any other, cemented the reputation of the kukri as a fearsome weapon in the imagination of the western reading public. The Traditional Military Kukri. New projects are always a learning experience, and one of the things that I have found most surprising here at Kung Fu Tea has been the persistent popularity of the one post which I wrote on the Nepalese kukri as a modern combat knife.
Perhaps I should have expected this. Kukris are one of the most iconic knives. Their easily recognizable form, extensive mythology and unique history insures that they appeal to number of different market segments.
Students of ethnic weapons appreciate their beautiful aesthetic and sheer variety. Martial artists are drawn to the blades sturdy construction and practical nature.
Home gardeners love what they can do when clearing land. If you live in North America this is also a great time to buy a vintage military kukri. Collectors in England have long had access to some very nice knives due to that countries long running military alliance with Nepal.
Pickings were slimmer on this side of the pond. Most of what was seen here were either British pattern military knives brought back by US servicemen at the end of WWII or items made for secondary markets and the tourist trade. I hope to discuss the details and ramifications of this event in a future post.
However, for the purposes of the present post what is important to note is that along with literally dozens of container shipments full of Victorian muskets and early military rifles, IMA and AC purchased between 14, and 15, antique and vintage military kukris.
Most of this material lay untouched and forgotten for decades. In fact, one of my regrets about the IMA deal was that the Lagan Silekhana palace was not treated as an archeological site. Simply the physical arrangement of the materials themselves could probably have revealed quite a bit about the social history of the Royal Nepalese Military.
As news of this massive sale spread it has generated some backlash within Nepalthough not all voices agree that it was wrong.
I plan on addressing some of the ethical implications of the sale of vast quantities of Asian antiquities in an upcoming post. Much of this material has subsequently been sold to collectors in the USA and Europe.
The general availability of this material makes it popular with collectors but prices have been slow to rise. I suspect that this is partially because the kukri collecting community still lacks sophistication and many individuals are not yet able to identify the knives they have, reliably date them and assess their actual rarity.
If you are new to the world of Kukri collecting and are thinking of buying an antique military piece, I hope this post will help you to do all three of these things.
If you already have an extensive collection of military kukris I hope the photos and discussion below will give you a greater sense of appreciation and satisfaction in what you have found. Why Only Nepalese Military Kukri? I should point out that this article will not help you to identify every kukri that you might come across.
We can think of all kukris as falling into five different groups. First there are traditional Nepalese military kukris the subject of this post. Next you have kukris that were made for the Gurkhas serving with the British or Indian armies.
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