As some of you may have noticed, I have recently rekindled an old flame for the collecting of antique firearms and accoutrements. This is an interest which predates my interest in kukris, going back to my early teens. The catalyst for my renewed interest has been the release of the "Nepalese cache" weapons from the palace of Lagan Silekhana in Kathmandu by IMA and AC. Although we at IKRHS have discussed these kukris - longleaf, bhojpure, and others - almost since the forum began, we have until recently been left to conjecture about the history of these knives and the meaning of their often cryptic markings.
Recently, however, the membership of this forum has expanded to include collectors whose first interest lay in the firearms from the cache, and whose interest in kukris developed from that direction. At the same time, several of our members have developed a fuller understanding of the markings on the kukris based in part on research involving the firearms.
Guns of the Gurkhas by John Walter has been instrumental in our understanding, as those who have followed recent posts are aware. The firearms from Nepal are much richer in inscriptions, if only because they form a larger canvas. Moreover, they are susceptible to dating in a more accurate (though still imperfect) manner than most kukris from the same source, because the guns are derived from British patterns whose dates of origin are well documented. Also, they are fun to collect .
There are, of course, several reasons why such a subforum is a radical departure for IKRHS. First, of course, we are a
kukri forum. Moreover, we are an
international forum, and private ownership of even antique firearms is largely an American phenomenon in the 21st century. That leads to another problem, which is that discussions of firearms have a tendency to veer off into the political subject of gun control, which can quickly degenerate into impassioned rants and jingoistic hyperbole. As a moderator I want to make clear from the outset that such discussions have no place here.
Likewise, there are already a number of forums which have great expertise in the subjects of restoring and shooting antique firearms. It is not our intent to reinvent or usurp that which is adequately covered elsewhere. What I envision is a friendly discussion by interested collectors of the historical record as revealed in the firearms from Nepal, as well as others associated with the Gurkhas and traditional users of the kukri. IKRHS has entertained discussions of firearm-related topics on several occasions. I hope this new sub-forum will provide a place to focus such discussions in the future, without detracting from the reason for our existence: the kukri.
To start the discussion, I thought I would just post a picture of three firearms from Nepal, each typifying a different time period. At the bottom is what Walter refers to as the "Gurkha Smooth-bore Brunswick", dating from the early 1850's. Above it is the "Gurkha Enfield", based on the British Pattern 1853 rifle-musket, believed to have been produced in Nepal beginning in 1860. At the top is a Nepalese copy of the Snider short rifle, dated c. 1870-80.
Can anyone suggest the most likely type or types of kukri (including, but certainly not limited to the IMA/AC import types) for each of the periods represented? Discussion, and as always, pictures are encouraged.