The Gurkha Khukri – A Saga of Snow, Steel, Blood and Sacrifice

Posted March 9, 2014 by admin in Sacred Weapons

While there are several legends about the origin of this blade called the Khukri, what is know is that origin of this blade lies in Nepal. 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 shows 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.

Whatever may be the facts of how and when it was made, Kukri is the national knife of Nepal, originated in ancient times. More than being just a reverted and effective weapon, however, the 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. Moreover, apart from the fact that the kukri symbolizes bravery and valor and is a Nepalese Hindu cultural icon.

One unique thing that makes one swallow his fear is the notch just before the start of the blade. What it really did and still does is to interrupt the blood flow to the handle and to let it drip to the soil so one can maintain grip during battle.

The distinctive indentation serves the practical purpose of preventing blood running down handle but also has a religious significance as at Dashain, the Hindu religious festival, a ceremonial version of the kukri, (a konra) is used to sever the head of an animal in one blow. A clean cut signifies good luck and wellbeing for those attending the ceremony.

Made by the Nepalese Kami clan of blacksmiths, an average kukri is 14-16 inches in length with a steel blade and a wooden, bone or metal curved handle. Its compact size means less metal is used in its manufacture than a conventional sword.

The sheath of the khukri is usually made with wild buffalo skin . Blade is always full tang and is attached to the hilt/handle , which is made with buffalo bone for its ability to be a good insulator of shocks received which laying blows. On the bottom side of the khukhri is carved out the symbol of the Hindu Goddess Kali, the primary deity of Hindus who is invoked during war. The typical Gurkha war cry is “Jai Bhadrakali, Aayoo Gurkhali”.

The symbol in the center of the shealth as shown in the picture represents the Vajra, the weapon of Indra crafted by the bones of the Rishi Dadhichi, and the three smaller circular symbols represent the tridevi – Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi.