Before answering the actual question, let us mention some
of the great and famous knives of the world: Bowie Knife,
Stiletto, Scimitar, Roman Sword, Samurai, Machete and so
on. All have played great historical roles because of their
Khukuri is the most famous of them all. It is partly so
because of the romance and myths behind them utterly unbelievable.
Actually, it is because of the decisive slashing edge of
the Khukuri which became well-known to those who had to
face it in the well-documented battlefields since 1814 when
the British in India first experienced its effectiveness
when they faced the Gurkhas in Western Nepal. Thus was born
the legends and romance. The history is something else.
is the national knife of Nepal, originating in ancient times.
It is all-purpose knife of the hill peoples of Nepal, especially
the Magars and Gurungs in the west, and the Rais and Limbus
in the east. These peoples are called the Gurkhas who form
the formidable Brigades of Gurkhas both in the British and
Indian Armies, not talking of the Royal Nepal Army itself.
It 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-shape 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-ir-die” run
on the enemy in a fury to finish the business. This scene
created the romance and the legends. What it really did,
and still does, is a superclean slaughter. The enemy tumbles
down in two clean pieces and is surprise! Because of the
kindest, quietest death.
Khukuri is carried in a wooden (often leather covered) stealth.
There are two tiny knives tucked behind it.
Karda: A small knife tucked behind the
scabbard, its main purpose is to cut small things and also
work as a skinning knife.
Chakmak: A sharpener tucked behind the
scabbard. It can be used as a flint maker also.
Notch: The notch near the handle on the
edge of the blade is a Hindu fertility symbol. It is also
the footprint of a cow (cow is a sacred anmimal in Hindu
religion) So the notch forbid slaughtering secret animal
with it. The Gurkhas also kept promises with it that thy
will never use this weapon on women and children. Nevertheless,
the knife being the lethal weapon, the notch on it is for
the blood to drip and not to soil the holder's hand, so
the user can maintain his grip for futher demonstration.
THE KHUKURI OR KUKRI :: The Gurkha's National Weapon
The Gurkha is worthy of notice, if only for the remarkable weapon which they use in preference to any other. It is called 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 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 of gradually to the edge, which has a curve of its own, quite different to that of the back, so that the blade is widest as well as thickest in the middle, and tapers at one end towards the hilt, and at 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 handle is made after a very remarkable fashion, and the portion which forms the hilt is so small that it shows the size of the hand for which it was intended. This smallness of hilt is common to all Indian swords, which cannot be grasped by an ordinary English soldier. Indeed the Gurkhas are so small, that their hands, like those of all Indian races, are very delicate, about the same size as those of an English boy of seven. 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 man's 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 of the broadsword, and which urges the sharp edge through flesh and bone alike.
Before passing to the mode in which the kukri is used, it should be mentioned that it is not employed for domestic purposes, being too highly valued by the owner. For such purposes two smaller knives are used, of very similar form, but apparently of inferior metal. These are kept in little case with the knives attached to a Highlander's drik.
In the hands of an experienced wielder this knife is about as formidable a weapon as can be conceived. Like all really good weapons, its efficiency depends much more upon the skill than the strength of the wielder, and thus it uppends that the little Gurkha, a mere boy in point of stature, will cut to pieces a gigantic adversary who does not understand his mode of onset. The Gurkha generally strikes upwards with the 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 out most formidable enemies, as since they have proved themselves most invaluable allies. Brave as lions, active as monkeys and fierce as tigers, the little wiry little men came leaping over the ground to the 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, dived under the beonets, struck upwards at the men with their kukris, ripping them off 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 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 officers' horses, rip them open with one blow of the kukri, and aim another at the leg of the officer as he and his horse fell together.