following description of the kukri, also spelled
cookri or kookeri, is taken from the must-have Arms
textbook known generally by its short title - "Stones
Glossary" - A Glossary of the
Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armour
in All Countries and in All Times Together with Some
Closely Related Subjects by George Cameron
Stone, first published in 1934.
national knife and principal weapon of the Gurkas of
Nepal. It has a heavy, curved, single-edged blade
sharp on the concave side. The hilt is usually
straight and without a guard; occasionally it has a
disk guard and pommel like the sword (kura) from the
same region. It is carried in a leather sheath with
two small knives and a leather pouch. The small
knives are shaped like the kukri, though one is
often without an edge and is said to have been used
for a sharpener. Quite often one, or both, of these
knives have hilts of branching staghorn. "
More than 100,000 Gurkhas served
in the First World War. A similar number served in
the Second World War, when Nepal volunteered 20
extra battalions after France fell and Britain was
vulnerable. After Indian independence, four of ten
regiments in the Gurkha Brigade transferred to the
British Army, the rest to the Indian Army.
Since 1947 they have defended
British interests in Malaya, Borneo and Cyprus. The
Victoria Cross has been awarded to Gurkhas 26 times.
The curve of the Kukri's blade is
very important because no matter what part of the
blade makes contact with a target, the edge is
always presented at an angle. This deep forwars
curve creates a shearing motion, so that the edge
slices through the target as the weight of the blade
drives it deeper.
weight of the blade of the kukri is well towards the
point and a tremendous
blow can be struck with it with very little muscular
exertion. There are well-authenticated instances of
a Gurka having split the head of a man and cut well
down into his chest with a single blow. It is
carried by the Gurkas at all times and is used as a
jungle and hunting knife as well as for war. It is
equally effective for skinning game as for chopping
wood and can do almost
anything that either a knife or a hand axe can do,
sometimes even better.
scabbards are often embroidered with quills or
decorated with silver or gold chapes.”
The only decoration
likely to be found on one is a small pair of notches
on the blade near the hilt. The origin of these
notches is a matter of some debate. Some
authorities describe them briefly as meaning
"divinity, " their origin reflecting the kukri's
status as a religious symbol.
The term 'choil' is
often used to describe the terminus of the sharpened
edge...but the interesting symbolism applied to this
feature on the kukri uses another term as well. It
is believed that this curious shaped notch
with a central pillar represents the female
generative organ of Kali, the Hindu goddess of
destruction...and is called the 'yoni'.
This symbolism is
discussed in Rawson, "The Indian Sword" (p.54 and
p.89,note 80.) Conversely, Byron Farwell,
author of "Gurkhas" states he was told by Maj. Gen.
Palit of the 9th Gurkhas that the kukri was a macho
weapon, and the traditional choil represented a
Erotic metaphor is not
unusual in India, but conclusions seem a matter of
perception. In any case, the earliest known kukri
dates from c.1627, belonging to the King of Gurkhas,
and is of essentially same form, with the same
The kukri is
accompanied by a pair of small utility knifes in its
sheath. These are not weapons as such, and are not
capable of being thrown.