History of Kukri
"The Kukri is the national as well as the religious weapon of the Gurkhas. It is incumbent on a Gurkha to carry it while awake and to place it under pillow when retiring."
Kukri is the now accepted spelling; “Khukuri” is the strict translation of the Nepali word. Either way khukuri (kukri) itself is the renowned national weapon of Nepal and the Gurkhas, the Gurkha Knife. A Nepali boy is likely to have his own khukuri (kukri) at the age of five or so and necessarily becomes skilful in its use long before his manhood.
Famous knives of the world such as the Bowie Knife, the Stiletto, the Scimitar, the Roman Sword, the Machete and so on have all, at one time or the other, played great historical roles as formidable weapons with men have demonstrated raw power and courage during times of battle similarly khukuri plays significant role during Nepal unification periods. As Gurkha soldiers use to carry khukuri during battle and conquered many small states to make Nepal one big country.
Going back to ancient times, the 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 awesome cutting edge of the Kukri was first experienced by the British in India who had to face it in the well-documented battles since 1814 while combating the Gorkha army in the western Nepal.
Khukuri is a medium length curved knife with comfortable weight and is carried by each soldier with them in their uniform and in battle. Khukuri symbolizes bravery and valor of gorkha soldiers throughout the world. Khukuri is not just a knife of Nepal but is also symbol of gorkha soldier, with the help of which they paved a way to their fame and courage today they have. More than being just revered and effective weapon, however khukuri is also the peaceful all purpose knife of all the hill people in Nepal.Khukuri is a versatile working tool and is an indispensable possession of almost every household, especially for those who belongs to the Magar, Gurung, Rai, and Limbu ethnic group of central and eastern Nepal. It is a fact that khukuri symbolizes bravery and valor which is Nepalese cultural icon.
None of us knows the fact that how the Kukri was exactly originated and is still a mystery where and who created it. The originated place and date have also been lost in the mists of time. Here are some facts, which prove that it is one of the oldest knives in the world. The blade shape might have 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 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 Kukri to the crafting method of old Japanese sword. Thus making the Kukri the oldest knife in the history of world.
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 Kukris displayed 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 show that the Kukri’s history is centuries old then this. But other suggest that the Kukri was first used by Kiratis who came to power in Nepal before Lichchhavi age, about 7th Century. What ever may be the facts of how and when it was made, Kukri is the national knife of Nepal, originated in ancient times.
Shapes and sizes of khukuri 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 khukuri, make fat thick blade where as Sirupate, the most famous khukuri in Nepal is very slim and thin. Similarly khukuri 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. Khukuri 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 khukuri still continue to vary from one another making it impossible to characterize or distinguish a particular khukuri from the rest. Moreover, since all khukuri 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.
Most Kukri feature two little knives attached at the back of the sheath held either in a built-in pocket or a leather purse is the complete set. The small sharp knife is a Karda, it serves as a small cutting knife. The other knife is called a Chakmak. It is blunt on both sides and it works like a knife sharpener when one does not have a sharpening stone rubbing both sides of a kukri. This Chakmak when stroked against a lime stone created sparks to start fire also.
Village working Khukuries (kukris) are much coarser affairs, often with heavy wooden scabbards and comparatively clumsy blades. Pyuthan in the west and Bhojpur in the east are well known centers of Khukuri (kukri) manufacture: Choosing examples from east to west and from the 18th Century onwards, we can see many styles and several types. The long, slender blade is characteristic of early work and of eastern Nepal; the shorter, round-bellied weapons are common later and in western districts: but there are exceptions to this rule.
The construction of khukuri 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 khukuri 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.