History of Nepali Khukuri / Gurkha Kukri

What is Khukuri / Kukri?

A khukuri is a curved short sword with a broad blade used especially by Gurkhas. Actual origin of khukuri is less known but common belief is that the modern blade is the transformed form of ancient Greek Kopis carried to the Indian subcontinent by the troops of Alexander the Great some 2500 years ago. With its elegant fierce nature it is assumed that then local Kamis were impressed with the design, copied the geometry and lend hands to execute it in the modern re-curved blade form.
Actually the Greek troops came with the Khukuri or with some other designs alike is still the mystery. However khukuris have been added in the Nepalese weapon portfolio with sickles, bows and arrows, spears, swords and many house made tools. Specially kaamis “blacksmith “ have been indulging in making khukuris. They work with their own handmade tools in their open forge with the inherited traditional talents. Working under absolutely deplorable conditions and with nothing more than an open forge and a handful of tools most of which they have made themselves they produce one of the finest blades in the world. It is the experience and hardships that has been passed down from centuries and the native skill along with blood, sweat, tears, patience, care, and a pride exhibiting exquisite craftsmanship on hand forged khukuris.
The khukuri is separated from other knives in regards to the design element, construction process and special traits and qualities poured at the time of making. The khukuris are perhaps the most famous member of a family of knives known as recurved blades. Recurved blades are typically single edged blades favoured for a multitude of reasons with a cutting edge sweeping in and out in a vague S shape. A recurved blade allows for a longer overall cutting edge over a blade of same length allowing more effective slashing and more devastating draw cuts. The recurved blade results in more mass being near the tip of the blade, giving the blade large amount of momentum for swings and slash with the power of blades twice their length making them devastating in combat and powerful clean cuts. It’s heavier weight at the spine makes it more efficient while striking on other objects. The leaf shaped design helps user to be more comfortable while cutting down the things.

amar singh thapaThen there are the Gorkhas who did more than anybody to bring this knife to the attention of the world. For years, even centuries, the blade form lay dormant in the world, being kept alive only in India and Nepal. And then the Gorkhas appeared on the world scene a couple of hundred years ago and brought with them their traditional weapon, the khukuri. Because the Gorkhas were probably the best mercenary force the world has ever seen and may ever see part of their fame became the fame of the khukuri. Gurkhas and khukuris both are synonymous. Khukurki without Gurkhas and Gurkhas without khukuri are unthinkable and unimaginable. With this legendary multi-utility real functional weapon The Great King from Gorkha Prithivi Narayan shah carried the unification campaign and annexed 22-24smaller states into the strong unified “Nepal”. Even before him the Malla kings also used khukuri as their weapon.The khukuri is a daily household utility tool for common Nepalis from dawn to dusk assisting in their daily household chores like cutting meat, whittling twigs, making ways clearing bushes etc and is the security companion.

It is also an important and integral part of our Nepalese culture – it represents our history, traditions, and spiritual beliefs. It serves as a symbol of wealth, social status, and prestige in Nepalese culture – It even has a clearly defined social role as an article of dress. For example, no well-dressed Nepalese groom would ever think of appearing at his wedding ceremony without his finest khukuri at his side.

Even today, it plays an important spiritual role in the traditional rituals of the various different ethnic groups of Nepal: As a spiritual talisman, it is worshiped and paid respect and loyalty to, along with other useful iron and steel tools, during Dashain (the longest and most important festival in the Nepalese calendar), and at other times whenever any sacrifice is to be made. The traditional, ancient belief is that a khukuri kept in the home is said to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits. Our ancient custom – still observed in traditional households – is that when we retire at night it is even placed under our pillows to prevent bad dreams, and dispel evil influences and thoughts.
Similarly there were several events in World War I and World War II where khukuri was used as a lethal weapon. At the time of war when Italy had kept soldiers captive, the Gurkhas with their khukuri managed to rescue the soldiers from their territory. Though more modern weapons such as tanks, atom bombs, machine gun were major weapons khukuri still prevailed as an important weapon during the world wars. This is the reason British Gurkha, Singapore Army, Bahrain Army still carry khukuri as a matter of pride till date.
So you can see how very much a part of us our Nepalese khukuri is. Its role in traditional Nepalese culture is both revered, and quite complex, and its cultural symbolism and importance to us is very deep indeed.
For a Nepalese, the khukuri also symbolizes more intangible qualities – strong character, honor, justice, human dignity, freedom. There is no more powerful symbol of the strength and spirit of our nation and of the Nepalese people more than a khukuri.
Khukuri is the glory of national pride, valor in battle and insigna of success with glorious history upheld by the brave Gurkhas.While purchasing khukuri 2 small knifes which are called Karda and Chakmak are  also provided along with it.

Karda :- A small Knife tucked behind the scabbard. Its main purpose is to cut small things and also work as a skinning knife and to make small holes.

Chakmak :- It is a blunt knife and is used to sharpen the khukuri and also could be used to light fire with the use of stone.

Notch :- The notch near the handle of the blade is a Hindu fertility symbol. It is also the footprint of a cow. So the notch forbids slaughtering sacred animal with it. The Gurkhas also kept promises with it that they will never use this weapon on women and children. Nevertheless, the knife being the lethal weapon, the notch on it is for the blood to drip off rather than running onto the handle, and thereby prevent the handle from becoming slippery, so the user can maintain his grip for further demonstration.The other most important thing about this is no other knife has this distinctive character in them and only khukuri is the design where we can find notch.