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Khukuri in Nepal: Everything you need to know (2022)

Let me make a wild guess- since you were a kid, you have been hearing your father/grandfather recount the tales of brave Gurkha and their Khukuri, or you are the sturdy war veteran yourself. 

Or, You are a knife fanatic curious to know more about Nepal and fell into the bucket of commotion because of only a little to no information on the internet. 

Whatever might be the reason that you stumbled down on here? You need not need to worry as we are now about to satisfy your curiosity and leave you well-grounded about the Khukuri in Nepal.

History and Legacy

“ If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.” -Sam Manekshaw 

Let us now delve into how the Khukuri got into the limelight In the Second World War When the second world war broke out, the Gurkha army led their troops with no lethal artillery like massive machine guns and missiles, but a middle curved knife-resembling machete Kukri/Khukuri and fought the battle with a fierce spunk. In the Anglo-Nepalese War Although the rise to the bravery of Khukuri stems from the Anglo Nepalese War 1814 – long back than the second world war, Gurkha Army has been carrying the khukuri since the Gurkhali troops of the late King Prithvi Narayan Shah. 

After the East India Company took over India, the British war aspired to seize the Nepali land, leading to a catastrophic war called the Anglo Nepalese War. The Gurkhali troops fought on the battleground with only Khukuri as their primary weapon and gave a victory to Nepal- hence Khukuri found prominent fame worldwide, inspiring various war armies to use Khukuri. Therefore, it later became an indispensable element of military equipment during British control. There are many legends swirling around the bravery of a Gorkhali. It is said about the Gurkhas that their foes would falter before making combat with them; that the opponents would fear the deadly razor-sharp weapon. 

 We guess ” Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” is silly to the Gurkha.

How did Khukuri come into existence?

In the beginning, forging of khukuri took place to clear out bushes while plowing the land and cutting wheat, barley, and other crops on the field.

That being the case, Khukuri was not only famed for striking opponents but also as a  utility for farming, cutting, digging, and so forth. In the olden days, high-ranking army officers called Kazis and Badakazis would gift the Khukuri in the traditional ceremonies. Also, the uniforms of armies of every rank have a crossed Khukuri embroidered on them.  

How has Khukuri carried on/maintained its legacy?

In the upcoming years, the artisans modernized and modified for the current generations- hence the khukuri have had various distinct names according to their role in history.

Well, the popularity and value of the Khukuri are still as ravening as it was a century ago. Khukuri now is a household name, used for a whole heap of domestic works, chiefly the hilly people utilize the tool accordingly.

Not only as a mortal blade, but the khukuri also has a flair as a utility tool. It was and still is a multifaceted and multi-purpose tool, happily and proudly contrasting the veto on weapons, which went with a proverb,” Once drawn, it cannot be sheathed until it draws blood.”

Culture Aspects of Khukuri

When one mentions Khukuri, one cannot help but think about bravery and pride. A khukuri is taken as a matter of honor, plus a token of cultural and religious code in the Nepalese culture.

Interestingly, in some Nepalese traditions, the groom wears his dress with a Khukuri as an accessory. 

Symbolism of Khukuri in Hindu Religion

Countless staunch religious beliefs are surrounding the Khukuri – the shape of the blade depicts many Hindu deities – namely Om, Goddess Durga, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Moreover, the notch of the Khukuri represents the holy Hindu symbol – Om, and the cow hoof as its shape profoundly suggests. Each year, the sacrificing of animals falls on the day of Maha Ashtami, where the worshippers of Goddess Durga use khukuri to sacrifice animals.

Besides, a system of promissory offering prevails in Nepal utilising Khukuri- the devotees offer the sacrifice of animals to God for fulfilling their wishes.

The Artisans - Warriors Behind the Making

Let us now unveil the faces behind the finely crafted Khukuris- the Kamis or the Bishwakarma. “Kamis” has a remarkable knack for transforming plain steel into a spectacular weapon with only a few simple tools.

The ethnic community practices forging the Khukuri, following the age-old tradition of their forefathers. Initially, they crafted the Khukuri for the landowners in return to get food grains. Quid pro quo! 

Making of Khukuri

Before diving into the making of Khukuri, it is essential to understand the anatomy of the Khukuri. Khukuri has three parts, namely Blade, Handle, and Sheath.

Three Main Parts of a Khukuri: 

Blade – It is the primary body of the Khukuri, which contains point, tip, edge, spine, and heel. Its size, form, and material make a Khukuri distinct and defined from one another.

The end of the blade also has a cloven notch, resembling a cow hoof or the shape like the number 3. 

Also, the blade is composed of high carbon steel like 5160 and 52100. The traditional heating technique is called partial water quenching.

Handle – In the gripping section of the khukuri, the artsmen opt for RTT( Rat Tang Tail or Parowal) for the handle type.

Similarly, rosewood or wild buffalo horn is the ingredient for a perfect handle.

Sheath – The sheath works as a carrier and protects the Khukuri. Also, the sheath of the Khukuri is an embodiment of modern-era leather. Industries manufacture the leather and sell it to the artsmen.

Leather is non-abrasive and slightly flexible. Hence, it prevents scratching the blade. A knife will scarcely move inside a leather sheath, having little effect on the sharpness of the blade.

To make a Sheath:

 The bladesmith traces the Khukuri and cut out an apt pattern.

 He marks the places, glues them, makes holes and stitches.

Moreover, leather is also dyed and left for drying.  

Additionally, there prevails another transitionary section of the khukuri called the bolster. The bolster(Kanzo) provides a counter-balance and strength to Khukuri. 

Phases of forging a Khukuri

The permanence and hardship of the artsmen bring about the existence of the Khukuris.
Forging of the Khukuri constituents of distinct phases. A high aptitude bladesmith undergoes the following steps to build a Khukuri:
i) Hammering
First, cut off the steel into the desired dimension. Then the bladesmith uses their hands to beat and forge the steel into the required shape.
ii) Partial Water Quenching method
During winter, the bladesmith heats the water. He then adds more coal to intensify the fire and heat. The heat is dispersed even more uniformly in the air. Finally, water is poured evenly from tip to notch over the edge gently.
Throughout this procedure, the maker inspects the edges for any indications of warp. They pour the water over steel repeatedly to solidify the edge.
Finally, the tests decide whether the hardening is befitting.
iii) Crafting the Handle
Desired patterns are cut out of the rosewood or the wild buffalo horn to make a required handle. Eventually, the handle inserts the tang.
Furthermore, leather crafts the sheath. Bladesmiths carve an exquisite pattern on the Khukuri to make it more distinguishable.

Maintenance of a Khukuri

Although khukuri is kept safe, or lack thereof can deteriorate the quality of blades. Now that you know a great deal about the Khukuri, now is the time to learn some tips and tricks to maintain a khukuri for a prolonged time.  

Few tips and tricks to maintain a Khukuri

Put grease/oil on the blade to prevent it from rusting- if it is brand new and unused, then apply only once a month.

Prevent keeping it under direct sunlight for a long time

Avoid liquid substances, extreme climate conditions, and fingerprints.

Use sharpening stone or blade slanders for better results.

Always store your Khukuri in a usual dry environment, as humidity is its threat.

Application of Khukuri

Although khukuri is widespread as a war weapon, it serves a variety of roles- from cutting vegetables to mincing meat and from decorating a home space to opening a can.

As a utility tool 

Though Khukuri won praises for its play on the battlefront, it also has a variety of purposes. Khukuri serves well both in homes and farms. 

Building, clearing, chopping firewood, digging, cutting meat and vegetables, and skinning animals are just a few of the uses of a Khukuri.

As a weapon machete 

The bravest conquests of the Gurkhas using mere Khukuri have been impeccable tales for a while now. Due to its sharp blade edges, it is efficient to strike an opponent leading him to surrender. 

The attacker may impose severe cuts and pierce bone since it has razor sharpness. The courage of the Gurkhas with Khukuri has given rise to a rich history.

As a decorative asset

Since a Khukuri is an eye-catching knife with its own distinct structure and feature, many decorate their home spaces with a khukuri.

Also, the tourists purchase khukuri as a souvenir from Nepal and take it to their country and gift it to their knife fanatic pals. 


How Khukuri is different from regular knives?

In contrast to the other knives, the khukuri is a gold mine of countless historical tales. Appearance-wise the khukuri has a distinct shape as it is curved in the middle section with finely crafted details. 

Khukuri is significantly medium in size, proving itself as a multi-purpose tool – perfect for domestic work and fearsome combat.

A score of regular knives is machine-made, whereas, on the other hand, khukuri is hand-forged by proficient bladesmiths, making it an exceptional machete.


We hope you learnt something useful from our article. But we’d love to hear from you. Did we miss out on something? What is it you found interesting about the Khukuri in Nepal? Let us know in the comments section.


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