It was once said that if a kukri was drawn, it had to “taste blood”.
The Gurkha blades’ true origin is vague. The many origins of its name also, like khukri, kuri, khukuri etc just makes matters worse in tracing its home, but it is conventionally synonymous with the Gurkha people of present-day Nepal. Gurkha Kukri is usually complementary and it is often rare to say one without the other.
By early as 7th century BC, this blade was already being used in the Himalayas by the Kirati people. But its popularity came in the fore during the Anglo-Gorkha war of 1814-1816. During this time, the British who first encountered the blade being used by the Gorkhas would later come to spread its popularity, into what came to be known as the Kukri propaganda. The British usually portrayed a picture of a Gorkha sharpening his knife, which would send chills down the spine of all their later enemies, such as the French. Some believe that Alexander the great’s Calvary used kukri blades during his invasion of India. However, these claims cannot be substantiated.
The Kukri was used by the founding father of Nepal, Prithi Naraya Shah, King of the independent kingdom of Gorkha who invaded the Kathmandu valley in 1657 and conquered it the following year.
Famous kukri blades used by ancient Gorkha warriors can be found today. The Kukri of King Drabya Shah, the Gorkha King of 1627 can be found at Nepal National museum. Fisher Kukri of the Sepoy mutiny against India in 1857 is preserved at the Gorkha Museum, Winchester United Kingdom.
The Gurkha Kukri blade is a special knife, bent downwards in the middle of the blade, and is made from high-grade steel, and wooden or animal skin handle. It is one of the oldest and the most famous battle knife in the world. Its unique curve makes it a sought-out after blade by many survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts. It handles snugly when held in the fist, and it also has a notch at the end of the blade which helps to stop the flow of sap or blood on to the handle which would otherwise make it messy and slippery when using it. Although it is debatable what the notch on the kukri is actually for.
Original kukris come with a Chakmak and Karda which are other smaller knives used to perform smaller complementary tasks with the kukri. The Chakmak is blunt on both sides and is suitable for light duties such as starting a fire with a lint and sharpening the kukri and Karda. To sharpen a kukri, the blade is placed on a flat surface facing downwards, while the edges face either side. And then while applying a little pressure downwards, comfortably do a single stroke from tip to notch on the edges till you get the desired sharpness. The notch will prevent going up past the blade. For faster results, you can use a sharpening stone.
The Gurkha’s have served with the British Army for over 200 years in Wars and conflicts all over the world Including:
- Anglo-Gorkha War
- World War I
- World War II
- Falklands War
- Hong Kong
- And now in Iraq and Afghanistan
Today the Gurka soldiers are an integral part of the British Army and have fought loyally together all over the world in many major conflicts. These soldiers still carry their kukri into battle, the Gurkha blade is a knife with a legacy.