Kukri / Khukuri Quotes from the 20th Century.
During the 20th century our beloved Kukri knife came to the fore-front of attention, it was used widely in World War 1 and World War 2 around the world by the Gurkhas, members of the British & Indian Armies as well as Commonwealth and Allied Troops.
Left: Khukuri wheel in Kathmandu with Kukri´s from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Right: A Gurkha soldier during the early 20th century with issued Kukri (MK2) and Bayonet. Image: Spiral/IKRHS.
Part 2 - 1900 - 1999.
His fondness for cold steel is proverbial. His national arm, the terrible leaf-shaped kukrie, half sword, half dagger, is never far from his hand, and is one of the most terrible weapons for close quarters ever invented by man. His bravery and coolness are marvelous. Armed with a kukrie alone lie will cheerfully encounter a tiger in the jungle, and terrible as the odds may seem against him, will often emerge from the contest victorious (p.4)."
"SIKHS AND GOORKHAS" in Bendigo Advertiser
(Vic: 1855-1918, Australia) , 8 Sep 1902: 4.
“One of the most notable features about a Gurkha is the marvelous skill with which he handles his heavy-bladed kukri. It may be said that from childhood, since as soon as his little hands become strong enough to lift one, he is never without one; hence, when older, he is very adept in its manifold uses. With one of those knives, Gurkhas can cut a buffalo’s head off at one stroke; and they can make fairly good shots, at considerable distance, when throwing the kukri (p.59).”
- A. Henry Savage Landor. Tibet and Nepal.
New York, 1905.
"A Gurkha Kukri - Another weapon distinguished by the curve of the blade which is the reverse to that of the sabre. In the case of the Kukri the outer edge is un- sharpened and the inner edge performs the cutting. The shape of the blade of necessity entails a curious upward action of the arm when stabbing. The Kukri possesses a scabbard which is fitted with two smaller weapons of the same shape."
- Bertram E Sargeaunt. Weapon: Disclosure on Hand weapons other than Firearms.
London: Hugh Rees, 1908.
"Kukri, or knife, which forms the main weapon of offence and defense of the Nepaulese.
The Gurkhas serving in Europe are, of course, armed with the latest pattern of rifle and bayonet, but, In addition, they are allowed to carry the national" weapon, in which they always seem to place more reliance than the bayonet. When it comes to fighting at close quarters and it has always been a source of anxiety to their officers that in their moment of excitement the men not in frequently throw away the whole of their modern arms and equipment and trust solely to the kukri. As, however, they do very effective work with it,
the danger of their best bested is small, particularly as there are very few who care to face a Gurkha maddened with the lust of war. The little leather case attached to the sheath of the kukri is a purse. The kukri has to be very carefully handled by the tyro, as a downward slash is far more likely to carry away his own legs than do damage to an enemy."
"THE KUKRI" in The Leader and Stock and Stallion News
(Orange, NSW, Australia : 1912 - 1922), 7 Dec 1914: 4.
"The Gurkhas knife. The presence of the Indian troops in France is exciting the greatest interest in the towns through which they pass to their base. French soldiers, civilians, and girls all want to see the famous Gurkha knife and are some what appalled when the little natives of Nepal solemnly declare that their religion forbids them to draw the weapon without drawing blood. What seemed an insurmountable' difficulty however was overcome when some British soldiers who had served in India wore able to tell the curious that the knife would be shown if the spectators would allow a slight cut with it to be made in the top of their finger in order to fulfill the letter of the law. A bandaged finger is now becoming quite popular with the French girls (p. 6)."
"THE GURKHA'S KNIFE" in The Wodonga and Towong Sentinel
(Vic. : 1885 - 1954), 1915, February 19.
“Gurkhas, those wonderful troops from Nepal. Mountaineers and soldiers from childhood, their greatest joy is hand to hand combat. Perhaps a description of their favorite weapon, the terrible kukri, would be of interest. It is from fifteen to eighteen inches long, with a keen edge, tapering from a thickness at the back, of about a quarter of an inch, to a razor-like edge. The handle or haft is of wood, bound tightly with copper wire, the distance between each band of wire being enough for a man’s finger to snugly enclose itself around the handle (p. 135).”
- Sgt. Harold Baldwin. Holding the Line.
"On either side of the pair of crossed kukri’s, the sun and moon are represented. these are very common symbols on coins, flags, copper and other inscriptions, and are inserted to invoke the blessings of the gods and to make the objects or the name and fame of the donor as everlasting as the two prominent orbs in heaven (p. 234)." "It is interesting, for example, to note the original form of the famous Nepalese kukhri. This has a blade 10,5 inches in length, and an ivory handle a shade under 5 inches (No. 3). The blade suggests clearly enough the present shape of the Nepalese kukhri, and is reputed to have been among those taken by Prithwi Narayan at his capture of Kathmandu in 1769. It would be interesting to be able to decide the question whiter the characteristic weapon of the Gurkhas was adapted from this Malla knife. Near by is another kukhri of exactly the modern shape. The blade is 24 inches in length, and the handle about 5 inches (p. 260)."
"Another treasure of the Museum is the same kings kukhri, which has overlapping waves of steel upon the blade, apparently intended to add to the weight of it (p. 262)."
- Perceval Landon. Nepal. London; 1928
(reprint: New Delhi 2007). vol. 1.
"The Khukuri of the Gurkhas of India is a sword-knife with a blade convex along the back, and expanding so that a large part of the cutting edge is also convex. It is used in hunting as well as in war, and armed with this weapon along the Gurkha will kill a tiger single handed."
- Herbert S Harrison. A handbook to the Weapons of War and the Chase.
Horniman Museum (London County Council), London, 1929.
"KUKRI, COOKRI, KOOKERI - the national knife and principal weapon of the Gurkhas of Nepal. It has a heavy, curved, single-edged blade sharp on the concave side. The hilt is usually straight and without guard; occasionally it has a disk guard and pommel like a sword (kora) from the same sharpener. Quite often one, or both, of these knifes have hilts of branching stag horn. The 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 Gurkha having split the head of a man and cut well down into his chest with a single blow. It is carried by Gurkhas at all times and used as a jungle and hunting knife as well as for war. The scabbards are often embroidered with quills or decorated with silver or gold chapes (pp 397-398)."
- George Cameron Stone. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor.
New York, 1961 (orig. 1934).
Gurkhas in World War 1, probably in France & Flanders.
"Subadar Lal Bahadur Thapa, member of the famous Fourth Indian Division. He carries the kukri, his exploits with which in North Africa won him the V.C."
"Won his V.C. with knife" in Sunday Times
(Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), Sunday 24 Oct. 1943, page 5.
"A reader wanted to know what a kukri is. His answer: A kukri is the traditional knife of the Gurkha. He carries it in addition to his ordinary British Army equipment. It is heavy and curved and can decapitate an enemy quite easily."
"OUEBIES, The Gurkhas Knife." in The Daily News
(Perth, WA, Australia : 1882 - 1950) 12 Feb 1947: 4.
"The Khukuri is the national as well as religious weapon of the Gurkhas. It is incumbent on a Gurkha to carry it while awake and place it under the pillow while retiring. As a religious weapon it is worshipped during the Dashera (dasai) and at other times whenever any sacrifice is to be made."
- Maharajah & Prime Minister Padma Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana
“Those little hill men who swooped on their enemies with their curved knifes... (p. 140)."
- Tim Carew. All This and a Medal too.
"The kukri, a short, curved, broad-bladed, and heavy knife, is the real national weapon of the Gurkhas, and it is worn by all from the highest to the lowest (p. 91, Vansittart)."
"The value of the kukri as a close combat or trench weapon became patently manifests. It is strange that no others adopted it for this war and for the next Great War: they were too wedded to the useless bayonet (p. 196)."
"For arms the men had firelock or bows and arrows, chorus and kukris. They did not use the bayonet but seem to have had some means of fixing the kukri to the muzzle of the fire-weapon (p. 276)."
- Lt-Gen. Sir Francis Tuker. Gorkha, the Story of the Gurkhas of Nepal.
“The Gurkhas rose as one man and charged with their kukri (p. 99).”
- David Bolt. Gurkhas.
"Kukri - "Far the best known forms of Nepalese swords are the two commonly associated with the Gurkhas, the Kukri and the Kora. Despite the fact that in modern times the Kukri has come to be regarded as the national weapon of the Gurkhas, its form shows that it is a weapon of purely Indian descent, related to the Kopis-bladed sword of Ajanta, and the modern Rajput Sosun Pattah."
"...members of all classes of society in Nepal owned and always carried a Kukri in a belted sheath which contained as well one or more smaller knifes, and often a purse holding flint and steel for making fire. The quality and richness of the sheath and its trappings, often very fine, show the wealth of the owner. The Kukri, however, was fundamentally an implement for cutting though the dense jungles of the Terai and the Himalayan slopes, and this purpose it never ceased to serve.”
"..since they were probably in continuous hard use, and were valued by their owners for their utility, not as ornaments. Such decoration as is applied to them is always in the nature of an inessential addition, which does not interfere with their use.
The aesthetic virtues of many Nepalese weapons are considerable. It is clear that the craftsmen worked to well-established proportional schemes and had a strong sense of the expressive possibilities of contours; for despite their simplicity and plainness most of the weapons are very beautiful."
"The root of the edge of a Kukri blade contains a semicircular nick about three- quarters of an inch deep, generally with a tooth at the bottom, which like the lotus on the blade of the Kora, the Gurkhas say represents the female generative organ, intended presumably to render the blade 'effective'. The sheaths of Kukris are frequently adorned with a scroll pattern in a band stitched in peacock quills, worked in repoussè or filigree, or chiseled, with great skill.
Many of the small Kukri knives carried in the sheaths of Kukris have their pommels
carved into the form of lion-heads."
- Phillip S. Rawson. The Indian Sword.
New York, 1968; (pp. 52-54).
Right: Market/Bazzar shop in India during WW2 with a American soldier and shopkeeper, some great Kukri knives hanging. Image: Spiral/IKRHS.
Left: A Gurkha soldier with his Kukri and smile in Italy during WW2 (10 GR). Image: SirKukri.
“Head on the Gurkhas charged, kukris held high into a hail of machine-gun fire...(p.112)”
Edward Bishop. Better to Die: the story of the Gurkhas.
“It is noted that Gurkhas were `extremely brave` and (did) not hesitate to draw their knives and kill even in quarrels among themselves (p. 32)."
Michael Hickey. The Unforgettable Army: Slim`s XIVth Army in Burma.
Turnbridge Wells, 1992.
"`Kukri’s now the accepted spelling; `khukuri `the strict transliteration of the Nepali word. Either way, the thing itself is the renowned national weapon of Nepal and the Gurkhas."
"A Nepali boy is likely to have his own kukri at the age of five or so and necessarily becomes skillful in its use before manhood. By the time a Gurkha joins the army, the kukri has become a chopping extension of his dominant arm. This is important because it is not the weight and edge of the weapon that make it so terrible as close quarters so much as the skilled technique of the stroke; it can claim to be almost impossible to parry.
But it is important to remember that the kukri is a tool of all work; at home in the hills and on active service it will be used for cutting wood, hunting and skinning, opening tins, clearing undergrowth and any other chore."
"...weight, balance and `fit` are crucially important....good ones are forged from railway track and old-motor vehicles springs. But the best are forged from the finest continental steel and be of the highest quality, fluted or damascened."
"Most handles are made of wood, often walnut or pat-pate (Talauma Hodgsoni). They are secured to the blade either by rivets through a two-piece hilt or by the tang inserted through a one-piece grip and riveted over the cap."
"The notch (kaura), ..is essentially a Hindu religious and phallic symbol."
"Nepal, the Gurkha, the Kukri: the three are inseparable in reputation. The Gurkha soldier keeps his kukri as he keeps his honour - bright and clean."
- "The Kukri," compiled and published by The Gurkha Museum,
Winchester, England, UK, 1994; (pp. 1-5)
“...a full page drawing of a Gurkha unit `charging the German trenches, with the deadly kukri drawn`. (p.7)”
“ the Khukuri is a curved knife which serves as an all-purpose implement in the hills of Nepal (p. 26)”
“The Gurkhas seem to draw only their Khukuri’s-the short curved knife-which is a general utility instrument in the Nepalese countryside, but is represented in the discourse as the national weapon (p. 134).”
“Indeed one of the `humorous` stories which features in many books has a Gurkha meeting an enemy in hand-to-hand combat. He swings his Khukuri, but the other responds with the taunt: `you missed!` `Try shaking your head`, replies the Gurkha. Even their enemies were apparently persuaded by these Gurkha tales (p. 134).”
“There is something of this attitude in the literature on Gurkhas, in that it harks back to an imagined time when individual initiative and determination took precedence over machines-the Khukuri over the tank-when men enjoyed primacy on the battlefield. Thus, through their discourse on Gurkhas, British officers-writers articulate values which, in their own idiom, are `time-expired` (p. 150).”
“The Khukuri appears in the insignia of all Gurkha regiments (p. 150).”
“In the praises sung of Gurkha bravery, we can detect a harking back to an imagined time when individual gallantry stood for more than impersonal instruments, the Khukuri for more than the machine gun and tank (p. 156).”
Prof. Lionel Caplan. Warrior Gentlemen: “Gurkhas” in the Western Imagination.
"Probably the knife most associated with the Indian sub-continent is the famed and
feared kukri. Found in several design variations, the kukri was not only used by the Gurkhas but also found widespread use among other Indian and Allied troops (p. 194)."
- Ron Flook. British and Commonwealth military knifes. 1999.
Images of the Gurkhas / Gurkha soldiers during World War 2 with the Kukri / Khukuri knife. Images from: Life Mag., IKRHS & SirKukri.
Copyright © 2020 Heritage Knives, by Kila Tool Works (P) Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this webpage may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the web publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to us at Heritage Knives.
Karma is a bitch!