Cheetlange Brass Engrave kukri

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kukri (khukuri) Info

Khukuri(kukri), a curved steel knife with a razor-sharp edge used in combat by the Gurkhas, has cultural and religious significance in Nepal . Though Khukuri(kukri) is national knife of Nepal, which has not famed only within Nepal or Gurkhas(Gorkha) but it has gained popularity in the world, as it is one of the best practical, convenient and peculiar knifes. Bowie knife, Stiletto, Scimitar, Roman Sword, Samurai or Machete are some o the famous knives of the world and have all played a great historical significance because of their cutting edge over other weapons. But the most famous of them is the 'Kukri or khukuri'!

Khukuri(kukri) is a semi curved metal knife and each Gurkha soldier carries with him in uniform and in battle/war. During the 1st and 2nd world wars, khukuri was famed as a non- exploded bomb or grenade. In times past, khukuri(kukri) was said that once a Khukuris(kukris) was drawn in battle, it had to 'taste blood'- if not, its owner had to cut himself before returning into its sheath.

In the hands of an experience wielder the khukuri(gurkha knife) is about a formidable a weapon as can be conceived. The lithe wire little men, utterly courageous, supremely cheerful, stealthy as leopards and agile as goats in the mountains, come leaping over the ground to attack, moving so quickly. When they come near the enemy, they suddenly crouch to the ground, drive under the bayonets and strike upward at the men with their Khukuri(kukri), ripping them open in a single blow. The result of such a dangerous combination of man and blade is a superb and effective slaughter. The enemy tumbles in two clean pieces, even before he can express his surprise because his is the kindest, quietest and quickest death.

The Khukuri(kukri), however is more than just an enemy's nightmare. From its origins as a valuable farming implement, the Khukuri(gurkha knife) evolved over the centuries into a lethal fighting weapon. To most of Nepal's rural people, who constitute more than 90% of the Country population, the Khukuri is a best friends, a multi-purpose knife which can be used for cutting grass, chopping wood, peeling vegetables, slaughtering animals and skinning meat, not to mention warding off dangerous animals and the occasional human invader. People of Nepal traditionally carry the Khukuri when traveling out door, just the sight of the brazen knife is enough to scare off most robbers. More than being just a revered and effective weapon, however, the Khukuri(gurkha knife) is also the peaceful all-purpose knifes of the hill people of Nepal. It is a versatile working tool and therefore an indispensable possession of almost every households and travelers.

The Khukuri(gorkha knife) is also used in sacrificial ceremonies: during Dashain, within the Gurkha(Gorkha) regiments, the Khukuri(kukris) is used to cut off animals' heads to make pleasure the gods and goddesses, who in return will protect Gurkhas(Gorkha) in battle. Those Nepalese who do not participate in blood-letting slash a pumpkin instead. The Khukuri(khukuris) is then garlanded with flowers and blessed with or without the animal's blood.

This 'all purpose' knife of the Gurkhas(Gorkha) - 'Khukuri' is of a very peculiar shape. Basically, the standard blade (Service No.1 kukri) is very thick at the base measuring a little more than a quarter of an inch in thickness. From the back it is thinned off gradually to the edge, which has curvature of its own, quite different to that of the back, so the blade is widest as well as thickest in the middle, and tapers at one end towards the hilt and at the other end towards the point. The point of the Khukuri(kukri) is a sharp as a needle, so that the weapon answers equally for cutting as well as stabbing. In consequence of the great thickness of the metal the blade is exceedingly heavy. A blow from such a weapon can be a terrible one, the very weight of the blade, if allowed to fall from a certain height, would drive half way through the arm of a person.

The Khukuri or kukri has never been broken in battle. Not a surprising claim, considering that the knife is made only from high grade steel often taken from a railway line or truck spring. A Khukuri(gurkha knife) handle is usually made from rosewood, buffalo horns or metals such as Aluminum, Brass in some cases Ivory and Antler also utilize for making the handle. The common scabbard is made from leather or wood and often features various carved designed. The 'top man's" Khukuri incorporates exquisite etchings and engravings on the blade in addition to a gold or silver scabbard (Kothimora) which is inlaid with even more precious gems.

Most Khukuris(kukris) feature two little knives attached at the back of the sheath held either in a built-in pocket or a leather purse. The small sharp knife is a Karda. Besides being used to hone the master blade, it serves for small cutting jobs. Perhaps the most unusual task it has is at the time of a child's birth: the Karda is then used to cut the umbilical cord. Afterwords the knife is place at the side of the cot to ward off evil spirits. The other knife is called a Chakmak. It is blunt and once rubbed against a stone will produce enough sparks to start a fire. Who needs electric lighters?

The Gurkha(Gorkha) and his Khukuri(kukri) are incomplete without each other. Together they've earned their fame, which can never to be forgotten. Finally, whatever be the roots, Nepal, the Gurkhas and the Khukuri are inseparable in reputation.
 


The Origin of Khukuri:
 

None of us knows the fact that how the Khukuri(kukri) was exactly originated and where it was developed. The originated place and date have also been lost in the mists of time. Even the spelling has been disputed or butchered since someone first tried to describe this knife: khookree, kookerie, khukri, kukery, Kukoori, Koukoori, kukri. What we see is an Anglicized version of a word first heard by English ears back in the early 18th century. The spoken word is actually 3 syllables: kook-er-ee and has finally come down to today’s accepted spelling of kukri or Khukri. Thus, name of this knife can be spelt and pronounced numerous ways but the most common names are Kukri or Khukuri. [Click here for more in John’s Article….]


The Rare Kukri; Silver mounted court Kothimora scabbard, and Blade is a budhume type----Mark McMorrow Collection.

Here are some facts, which prove that it is one of the oldest knives in the world. The blade shape descended from the classic Greek sword of Kopis, which is about 2500 years old.

A cavalry sword (The Machaira, Machira) of the ancient Macedonians which was carried by the troops of Alexander the Great when it invaded northwest India in the 4th Century BC and was copied by local black smiths or Kamis some knife exports have found similarities in the construction of some Khukuris to the crafting method of old Japanese sword. Thus the making of Khukuri is one of the oldest blade forms in the history of world, if not in fact the oldest.

Some says it was originated from a form of knife first used by the Mallas who came to power in Nepal in the 13th Century. There are some Khukuris displaying on the walls of National Museum at Chhauni in Kathmandu which are 500 years old or even more among them one belonged to Drabya Shah, the founder king of the kingdom of Gorkha, in 1627 AD But the some facts shows that the Khukuri's history is centuries old then this. But other suggest that the Khukuri was first used by Kiratis who came to power in Nepal before Lichchhavi age, about 7th Century.


Some Mystical Meaning of Khukuri:

Another thing that adds to the magic of the Khukuri is the cultural and religious significance that has worked its way into the knife. Among the more unique features of the Khukuri is the crescent moon-shaped notch at the base of the blade. Some say it is a fertility symbol or a lock for securing the Khukuri(kukri) in its sheath. Others say it is to interrupt the flow of blood down onto the handle, which would make it wet or slippery during the time of attack. Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that it is a simple defensive feature of the knife, for once the blow of an opponent's weapon is caught on the blade, the sword or dagger slips down into the notch where with one quick twist, the opponent is disarmed. The notch of the Khukuri(kukri) near the hilt is said the trident of the Hindu god Shiva, the god of war and destroy. It has various other meanings such as a cow tract, the sexual apparatus of Hindu gods and goddesses, the sun and moon, the symbol of Nepal.



 


The History and Meaning of the Khukuri:

None of us knows the fact that how the Khukuri (Khukri or Kukri) was exactly originated and where it was developed. The originated place and date have also been lost in the mists of time. Here are some facts, which proves that it is one of the oldest knives in the world. The blade shape descended from the classic Greek sword of Kopis, which is about 2500 years old. The Machira, the calavry sword of the ancient Macedonians which was carried by the troops of Alexander the Great when it invaded northwest India in the 4th Century BC and was copied by local black smiths or Kamis. Some knife exports have found similarities in the construction of some Khukuris(kukris) to the crafting method of old Japanese sword. Thus the making of Khukuri(kukri) is one of the oldest blade forms in the history of world, if not in fact the oldest.

Some say it was originated from a form of knife first used by the Mallas who came to power in Nepal in the 13th Century. There are some Khukuris displaying on the walls of National Museum at Chhauni in Kathmandu which are 500 years old or even more among them one belonged to Drabya Shah, the founder king of the kingdom of Gorkha, in 1627 AD But the some facts shows that the Khukuri's history is centuries old then this. But other suggest that the Khukuri was first used by Kiratis who came to power in Nepal before Lichchhavi age, about 7th Century.

An another thing that adds to the magic of the Khukuri(kukri) is the cultural and religious significance that has worked its way into the knife. Among the more unique features of the Khukuri is the crescent moon-shaped notch at the base of the blade. Some say it is a fertility symbol or a lock for securing the Khukuri(kukri) in its sheath. Others say it is to interrupt the flow of blood down onto the handle, which would make it wet or slippery during the time of attack. Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that it is a simple defensive feature of the knife, for once the blow of an opponent's weapon is caught on the blade, the sword or dagger slips down into the notch where with one quick twist, the opponent is disarmed. The notch of the Khukuri(kukri) near the hilt is said the trident of the Hindu god Shiva, the god of war and destroy. It has various other meanings such as a cow tract, the sexual apparatus of Hindu gods and goddesses, the sun and moon, the symbol of Nepal.

 


There are two names for this knife that are now universally accepted, “Khukuri” or “Kukri”. After going through series of names since someone first tried to speak, pronounce or write when it was first encountered or discovered in the early 1600’s “Khukuri” became the strict Nepalese version that is very common, famous and household name in Nepalese literature. However Khukuri is more known as “Kukri” in the western world and beyond which we see is an anglicized version of the British when they first discovered the knife.


With khukuri’s origin going back to ancient times, the khukuri(kukri) is not only the national knife of Nepal but is also symbolic of the Gurkha soldier, a prized possession with which he has indelibly carved an identity for himself. The khukuri(kukri) has been the weapon of choice for the Gorkhas of Nepal and the famous Gorkhali Sainik of King Prithivi Narayan Shah since 16th century and used for almost everything from a utility tool to an effective fighting knife in battle to a unique piece of decoration that has marked its amazing reputation. The successful war campaigns and swift victory of the Gorkhali Sainik against its enemies must be credited to some extent to this unusual and practical weapon. It is also believed that the universal custom of Gurkha Army carrying the khukuri(kukri) began from Gorkhali Sanik(Gorkha soldier) and that was later made an important part of military issue under the British ownership. This custom still exists although the size and type of khukuri have significantly changed and improvised.

The khukuri is a medium-length curved knife each Gurkha soldier carries with him in uniform and in battle.In his grip, it is a formidable razor-sharp weapon and a cutting tool. In fact, it is an extension of his arm. When his rifle misfires, or when his bullets have run out, a Gurkha unsheathes his khukuri and makes his final "do-or-die" run on the enemy in a fury to finish the business. This scene created the romance and the legends. What he really did, and still does with his khukuri(kukri), is a super-clean slaughter: The enemy tumbles down in two clean pieces- and in surprise! - because his is the kindest, quietest death because it is the quickest.

At present, khukuri(kukri) is recognized as the national knife of Nepal. Known more than being just a revered and effective weapon, the khukuri(kukri) is also the peaceful all-purpose knife of the hill people of Nepal. It is a versatile working tool and therefore an indispensable possession of almost every household, especially of those belonging to the Gurung, Magar, Rai, Limbu and Tamang ethnic groups of central and eastern Nepal. A Nepali boy is likely to have his own khukuri at the tender age of five or so and necessarily becomes skilful in its usage long before his man hood. It is also likely that the boy will have painful encounters with his khukuri(kukri) but his belief and bonding in the process with the khukuri(kukri) will teach him how to use and respect it. Moreover, apart from the fact that the khukuri(gurkha knife) is an exceptionally effective tool that denotes a strong character, it also symbolizes bravery and valor and is a Nepalese cultural icon, it also represents an exquisite piece of Nepalese craftsmanship and is indeed a unique memento for you to take back home from Nepal.

The construction of khukuri(gurkha kukri) is very basic and simple yet it has style and class of its own. In Nepal people still use very traditional and primitive method and conventional tools to make it. In early Nepal most villages would have a metal smith or famously known as “Kamis” who forged khukuirs(kukris) to their best ability. In today’s context there is a good deal of mass production done in a organized and systematic way where Kamis from different places come together under the same shade and work for a contractor who is responsible for all management, business and financial activities.

The khukuri blades have always varied much in quality. Inferior and high quality steels both have been equally used thus needs an expert eye and skill to distinguish one from the other.

Old heavy vehicles spring (suspension) steel has always been the source of a good quality khukuri(kukri) blade. Khukuris(kukris) in the earlier days were much longer than the modern ones and significantly varied in shape and size than its contemporary siblings; and also had steel fixtures. Army khukuris issued to the Gurkhas during the World War era had stampings like name of manufacturer, inspection date, issue date and sometimes name of the military unit. Khukuris(kukris) were than longer and more curved than the current issues. Along with traditional and village khukuris(kukris) even the army knives have intensely changed over the years to adapting to the modern times and its developments.

Khukuri(gurkha kukri) grips are normally made from local walnut wood called “Sattisaal” in Nepalese, domestic water buffalo horn and some very fancy from brass, aluminum; and even ivory and rhino horn are used for some very special ones. Basically two types of tang are applied; one is the rat-tail tang that goes all the way through the handle narrowing its surface area as it finishes towards the end of the handle and its end/tail is penned over and secured. The other is the full flat tang that also goes through the handle but the tang can be seen on the sides of the handle and steel rivets are fixed to secure the handle to the tang and a pommel plate or butt cap is also fitted at the end to enhance the total fixture; this type is called as “Panawal Handle”. Most of ancient khukuris used to have wooden handle with rat tail tang however, surprisingly, the tail did not come all the way through the handle. The handles were curved unlike the modern ones and had steel or iron fixtures in most cases. The exact origin or who initiated the “Panawal” handle is not known but probably started in early 1900’s when Kamis were influenced by British Knives and they undertook the new better version. It is also likely that the handle demanded better treatment as rat tail handle were not strong enough to hold the long blades when put hard on job. Today different materials are used in the khukuri and are improvised to better suit the demands of today and for better results nonetheless traditional styles have been retained except for a few exceptional and unique ones.

The khukuri is carried in scabbard, “Dap” in Nepalese, where normally 2 pieces of wooden frames are covered with water buffalo hide or other domesticated animal parts and may or may not have brass or steel protective chape depending on the type of khukuri. Khukuri scabbard like the blade and handle has come a long way with many changes and modifications along the way to keep up with the ever changing time and need. Scabbards from early days did not have belt frog and people used untreated untainted raw leather hide just for the mere shake of carrying the Khukuri blade. Khukuri were thus stuck in the owner’s sash or “Patuka” as frogs or any sorts of holder were missing. After the formation of British Gurkhas frogs were introduced by British to carry khukuri from waist belt and later steel and brass fixtures were used to look good and also to protect the naked tip of the scabbard. Some khukuris have decorative scabbard with beautifully well done wooden, horn, silver, brass work and sometimes ivory. Khukuri that are especially intended for display purpose, are given extra time and effort to its scabbard by using horns, wood and other expensive decorative materials crafting beautiful designs and carvings with traditional and religious symbols in the scabbard. It is a customary in Gurkha Army to present a retiring officer with a Kothimoda khukuri (silver case) to honor his outstanding long and loyal service to the regiment and the country. Khukuri scabbard also has two pockets at the back that carry blunt steel called “Chakmak” for sharpening the khukuri blade and also for striking sparks from flint and a little sharp knife called “Karda” used as a small utility knife. Very old scabbards along with Karda and Chakmak also had an extra leather pouch (Khalti) attached to it used for carrying small survival kits or most of the time small piece of flint to create a spark with the Chakmak. However, army khukuris in world war days and most khukuris in 19th and early 20th centuries did have neither the Karda Chakmak nor the extra pouch. It is only after the mid 20th century Karda and Chakmak were again placed back in the Gurkha knives to maintain the khukuri tradition. Most khukuri at present have Karda Chakmak however Khalti is ignored.

Shapes and sizes of khukuris from ancient to modern ones have varied intensely from place to place, person to person, maker to maker and so forth. Khukuri made in the Eastern village Bhojpur, very famous for khukuris, make fat thick blade where as Sirupate, the most famous khukuri in Nepal is very slim and thin. Similarly khukuris from Salyan are long and slender with deeper belly and Dhankuta, a village in the east make simple standard army type blade but gives emphasis on the scabbard by making it decorative and ornate. Khukuris made during the 18th and 19th century was much longer and more curved than its modern counterparts. The shapes were often very broad belly and heavy or very curved slender and thus very light. Only the standard army issue were and are made of the same dimension and measurement in order to bring uniformity and tidiness to the unit; where as local khukuris still continue to vary from one another making it impossible to characterize or distinguish a particular khukuri from the rest. Moreover, since all khukuris are totally handmade even the same type and version tend to differ a bit leaving the impression of the habitual of the maker and his individuality.

Source: seamanknives.com

 


KUKRI/KNIFE:


 


The Khukuri (kukri) is carried in scabbard (dab in Nepali) usually made of wood covered in leather with a protective metal cap over the tip. Most handles are made of wood. The "dab" may sometimes be adorned with cloth-work or engraving and hilt made of bone ivory, horn or metal. All Khukuris (kukris) have two pockets at the back of the scabbard, which hold blunt steel called "chakmak" for sharpening the blade or for striking sparks from flint and a little knife known as "karda" used for skinning small game or as a penknife. The notch (kaura) in the blade near the hilt of most Khukuris (kukris) serves as a conduit for the blood on the blade to drip out thus prevents it from soiling the hilt, as well as a device for catching and neutralizing an enemy blade. It also represents the Hindu fertility symbol. The Khukuri(kukri) is not only the national knife but also has great religious importance and is worshipped by the Nepalese during the grand Hindu festival Dashain.

The Gurkha is worthy of notice, if only for the remarkable weapon which they use in preference to any other. It is called the "Khukuri" or "Kukri" and is of a very peculiar shape. As may be seen by reference to the drawings both the blade and hilt are curved.

The kukri blade is very thick at the back measuring a little more than a quarter of an inch in thickness. From the back it is thinned off gradually to the edge, which has curve of its own, quite different to that of the back, so the blade is widest as well as thickest in the middle, and tapers at one end towards the hilt and the other towards the point. The steel of which the blade is formed is of admirable temper, as is shown by the fact that specimens which had not been cleaned for thirty years, but have been hung upon walls among other weapons, are scarcely touched with rust, and for the greater part of their surface are burnished like mirrors.
The point of the Khukuri or Kukri is as sharp as a needle, so that the weapon answers equally for cutting or stabbing. In consequence of the great thickness of the metal, the blade is exceedingly heavy. It may be imagined that a blow from such a weapon as this must be a very terrible one. The very weight of the blade would drive it half through a mans arm if it were only allowed to fall from a little height. But the Gurkhas have a mode of striking which resembles the "drawing" cut off the broad sword, and which urges the sharp edge through flesh and bone alike.

To make a complete set every Khukuri or Kukri must come with two small knives at the back. The two smaller knives used are of very similar form, but apparently of inferior metal. These are kept in little case attached to the side of the Khukuri or Kukri sheath, just as is the case with the knives attached to a Highlander's dirk.

In the hands of an experienced wielder this Khukuri or Kukri is about as formidable a weapon as can be conceived. Like all really good weapons, Khukuri's or Kukri's efficiency depends much more upon the skill that the strength of the wielder and thus it happens that the little Gurkha a mere boy in point of stature, will cut to pieces of gigantic adversary who does not understand his mode of onset. The Gurkha generally strikes upwards with the Khukuri or Kukri, possibly in order to avoid wounding himself should his blow fail, and possibly because an upward cut is just the one that can be least guarded against.

"When we were engaged in the many wars in India, the Gurkha proved themselves our most formidable enemies, as since they have proved themselves most invaluable allies. Brave as lions, active as monkeys, and fierce as tigers, the lithe wiry little men came leaping over the ground to attack moving so quickly, and keeping so far apart from each other, the musketry was no use against them. When they came near the soldiers, they suddenly crouched to the ground, dive under the bayonets, struck upwards at the men with their Khukuris or Kukris, ripping them open with a single blow, and then, after having done all the mischief in their power, darting off as rapidly as they had come.

Until our men learned this mode of attack they were greatly discomfited by their little opponents, who got under their weapons, cutting or slashing with knives as sharp as razors, and often escaping unhurt from the midst of bayonets. They would also dash under the bellies of the officer’s horses, rip them open with one blow of the Khukuris or Kukris, and aim another at the leg of the officer as he and his horse fell together."

(From “Travels in India and Nepal” by the Rev Wood, 1896)

 


 
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