Some of the famous knives of the world such as the Bowie Knife, the Stiletto, the Scimitar, the Roman Sword, the Machete and so on, have all, at one time or the other, played great historical roles as formidable weapons. The khukuri outdoes them all! The great romance and the extraordinary accounts of bravery that this knife evokes are legendary and historic.
There are two names for this knife that are now universally accepted, “Khukuri” or “Kukri”. Khukuri is the Nepalese version and kukri is an Anglicised version.
The origin of the khukuri goes back to ancient times. The khukuri is not only the national knife of Nepal but is also symbolic of the Gurkha soldier, a prized possession with which he has indelibly carved an identity for himself. The khukuri has been the weapon of choice for the Gorkhas of Nepal and the famous Gorkhali Sainik of King Prithivi Narayan Shah since the 16th century and used for almost everything from a utility tool to an effective fighting knife in battle to a unique piece of decoration that has marked its amazing reputation.
The successful war campaigns and swift victory of the Gorkhali Sainik against its enemies must be credited to some extent to this unusual and practical weapon. It is also believed that the universal custom of the Gurkha Army of carrying the khukuri began from Gorkhali Sanik and that was later made an important part of military issue under the British. This custom still exists today although the size and type of khukuri has significantly changed.
The awesome cutting edge of the khukuris was first experienced by the British in India who had to face it in battle from 1814 while combating the Gorkhali Sainik in western Nepal. Thus was born the legend and the romance. In the Gurkha soldier's grip, this seemingly small piece of curved steel becomes an incredibly menacing weapon with which he has demonstrated rare feats of bravery while facing the enemy on many battlefields.
The oldest known khukuri is on display at the National Museum in Kathmandu which belonged to Drabya Shah, the King of Gorkha in 1627. It is certain however that the origins of the knife stretch back 2500 years.