What is Kukuri or Khukuri?
The Khukuri (alternatively spelled kukri or khukri) is a curved versatile Nepalese knife, similar to the machete, used as both a tool and as a weapon. It is a traditional weapon for Nepalese people, and also a weapon of choice/side arm for all Nepalese including those serving in different armies around the world who are also known as Gurkha soldiers. The cutting edge is inwardly curved in shape and is the icon of Nepal. It was, and in many cases still is, the basic and traditional utility knife of the Nepalese people.
Very effective when used as a weapon, it is a symbolic weapon of the Nepalese Army, and of all Gurkha regiments throughout the world, signifying the courage and valor of the bearer in the battlefield. It is a part of the regimental weaponry and heraldry of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, and is used in many traditional rituals among different ethnic groups of Nepal, including one where the groom has to wear it during the wedding ceremony. It is known to many people as simply the "Gurkha blade" or "Gurkha knife". A kukri blade has a hard, tempered edge and a softer spine. This enables it to maintain a sharp edge, yet tolerate impacts. They are also balanced so that they will rest in a vertical position if supported on a fulcrum, such as a finger.
The pronunciation "kukri" is of western origin, as the Nepalese people to whom this weapon belongs pronounce it "khukuri."
What is Kukuri or Khukuri used for?
The blade's distinctive forward drop is intended to aid the cutting action by having the edge maintain an angle (rather like a guillotine) rather than just have a straight edge at right angles to the target, this angle provides a more "slicing" action similar to a draw-cut with a machete or sabre. The kukri is most commonly employed as a multi-use utility tool rather like a machete. The kukri also has a religious significance in the Nepalese form of the Hindu religion. During the annual Dashain festival, kukris are ceremonially blessed.
Utility: While most famed from use in the military, the kukri is most commonly used as a multipurpose tool, and is a very common agricultural and household implement in Nepal. Its use has varied from building, clearing, chopping firewood, and digging to cutting meat and vegetables, skinning animals, and opening tins.
Weaponry: The kukri is effective as both a chopping and a slashing weapon. In combat, it is used in two different styles: stabbing with the point, slashing or chopping with the edge. Because the blade bends towards the opponent, the user need not angle the wrist, which makes the kukri more comfortable as a stabbing weapon than other straight-bladed knives. Its heavy blade enables the user to inflict deep wounds and to cut through muscle and bone.
The Khukuri making process:
The kukri blade is forged from steel. Modern kukri blades are often forged from leaf springs collected from recycled cars/truck suspensions. A genuine authentic handmade Khukuri is made by beating and hammering a red hot steel over and over again to give it its shape. The Khukuri is then carefully sharpened by tampering the edge of the blade and the shape of the sheath is carved out. The tang of the blade usually extends all the way through to the end of the handle; the small portion of the tang that projects through the end of the handle is hammered flat to secure the blade. Then the handle made of wood, buffalo horn is attached and the blade is shined. This Khukuri is hand crafted in Eastern Nepal (Dharan) by up to 4 men (often referred to as kamis and/or biswakarma) who are the masters of inherited Khukuri who spend up to one full day for each Khukuri.
|Knotch on the blade:
Most kukuris have a notch at the base of the blade where blade meets the handle. It is often referred to as "kaura" or, "cho". The notch is designed to stop blood from reaching the holder’s grip after an impact and prevent the grip from being slippery. It can also catch the stike of another blade during combat. It is also believed that to have some spiritual implications.
Karda & Chakmak:
A kukri usually comes in a decorated wooden or leather wrapped scabbard. The scabbard usually holds a karda (auxiliary knife) and a chakmak (steel-flint striker). The kardha is an auxiliary knife used normally for skinning hunted animals when used as a hunting tool. The chakmak is a 'thicker' tool used for sharpening the kukri in the field.