Object: Khukuri

Unknown date
Materials: Metal, wood, leather.

The Khukuri, pronounced koo-kri, is an ancient weapon employed by the Nepalese Ghurka soldiers and is now a commonly used household tool in Nepal. It is unknown exactly where or when it originated, but some experts attribute the craftsmanship of the khukuri to the ancient Greek sword the kopis, as well as the Japanese sword.

Khukuri knives are considered an exceptional piece of Nepalese craftsmanship. They are usually hand-made and very detailed, taking at least one entire day to produce. All supplies included in the process are carefully chosen to ensure the finest quality. The heated steel is first hammered and beaten repeatedly to form the blade. The steel is then cooled and tempered to enhance strength. Once this is done, the blade is sharpened and shined. A machine is only used during the shining stage. The handle is made from buffalo horn and the sheath, or scabbard, is made of wood and covered with leather. The scabbard has two pockets on the back which hold a piece of steel called a chakmak for sharpening the knife. There is a notch near the handle of the Khukuri that serves as a channel to drain blood, or other liquids, out of the sheath and also keep the handle from becoming slippery.

This knifes significance lies among the brave and loyal Ghurka soldiers who derive their name from the 8th century warrior-saint of Gguru-Goraknath. The Ghurka soldiers have carried the Khurkuri knife into battle for many years and it has become a traditional weapon in battle. They served for more than 185 years for the East India Company, (British army), and received a plethora of military honors. With that said, the Khukuri knife is symbolic of the bravery and strength of the Ghurka soldiers. Other Khukuri knives can be viewed at the National Museum of Kathmandu [Chenoa Copeland].

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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