Khukuri Knives

Kukri Knives / Khukuri Knives

kukuri knife setKukri or Khukuri Knives. A Kukri knife is a mid-length curved knife that is the national knife and icon of Nepal. It is a basic and traditional utility knife of the Nepalese and a formidable and effective weapon of the Gurkhas that symbolizes pride and valor. Believed to have existed 2500 years ago; “Kopi” is the probable source of the Khukuri that was used by the Greek in the 4th BC. However, khukuri received international attention during the Nepal War of 1814-15 after the formation of British Gurkha Army. Kukri knives are carried in a leather case, mostly having a walnut wooden grip and traditionally having two small knives accompanying it.

Khukuri Knives / Kukri Knives

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Kukri Knives and the British Gurkhas

Gorkhas and British East India Company fought against each other during their military campaigns out of which both stimulated respect and admiration for one another which later contributed to national level agreement that gave British the right to recruit Gorkhas under their Government and hence “British Gurkhas” was born. Interestingly “Gorkhas” was called “Gurkhas” (which is universally accepted now), this is what we see as an anglicized version of a word first heard by English ears back in the early 18th century. Britian and India both recruit Gurkhas presently.

More about Kukri Knives

There are two names for this knife that are now universally accepted, “Khukuri” or “Kukri”. However Khukuri is more known as “Kukri” in the western world and beyond. 

The kukri is designed primarily for chopping. The shape varies a great deal from being quite straight to highly curved with angled or smooth spines. There are substantial variations in dimensions and blade thickness depending on intended tasks as well as the region of origin and the smith that produced it. As a general guide the spines vary from 5–10 mm at the handle, and can taper to 2 mm by the point while the blade lengths can vary from 26–38 cm for general use.

A kukri designed for general purpose is commonly 40–45 cm (16–18 in) in overall length and weighs approximately 450–900 grams (1–2 lbs). Larger examples are impractical for everyday use and are rarely found except in collections or as ceremonial weapons. Smaller ones are of more limited utility, but very easy to carry.

Another factor that affects its weight and balance is the construction of the blade. To reduce weight while keeping strength the blade might be hollow forged, or a fuller is created. Kukris are made with several different types of fuller including: tin chira (triple fuller), dui chira (double fuller), angkhola (single fuller), or basic non-tapered spines with a large beveled edge.

Kukri blades usually have a notch (karda, kauda, kaudi, kaura, or cho) at the base of the blade. Various reasons are given for this, both practical and ceremonial: that it makes blood and sap drop off the blade rather than running onto the handle; that it delineates the end of the blade whilst sharpening; that it is a symbol representing a cows' foot, or Shiva. The notch may also represent the teats of a cow, a reminder that the kukri should not be used to kill a cow, an animal revered and worshiped by Hindus. The notch may also be used as a catch, to hold tight against a belt, or to bite onto twine to be suspended.

The handles are most often made of hardwood or water buffalo horn, but ivory, bone, and metal handles have also been produced. The handle quite often has a flared butt that allows better retention in draw cuts and chopping. Most handles have metal bolsters and butt plates which are generally made of brass or steel.

The traditional handle attachment in Nepal is the partial tang, although the more modern versions have the stick tang which has become popular. The full tang is mainly used on some military models, but has not caught-on in Nepal itself.

The kukri typically comes in either a decorated wooden scabbard or one which is wrapped in leather. Traditionally, the scabbard also holds two smaller blades: an unsharpened chakmak to burnish the blade, and another accessory blade called a karda. Some older style scabbards include a pouch for carrying flint or dry tinder.


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