There is a Nepali saying, ‘kaphar hunu bhanda marnu ramro’, which means ‘it’s better to die than being a coward’.
Like with every other community around the world, the Nepali community too has a multipurpose tool/knife associated with them – it is the ‘Khukuri’.
The Khukuri is a semi-curved knife and is a representation of the Gorkhas.
So, this visit at home I wanted to know a lot more about the Khukuri. Spoke to my Kaka (Uncle) and read a few articles on the same, thereafter I went through his collection of Khukuris, photographing it. I thought it was necessary to document and share some of the very basics of information as many of us wouldn’t still be aware of it.
The Khukuri is used for various purposes in a Nepali household, from working on the daily chores in a village to being a symbolic figure, to completing rites and rituals or for that matter for also offering protection in times of need.
Khukuri can be broadly subdivided into two main varieties:
2) Buduney or Bhuntey
Some of the Khukuris are also classified and named after the region where it is made (for eg. Bhojpurey, made in Bhojpur, Nepal or Chitlangey, made in Chitlang). Similarly in India, the ‘Baspatey’ is the more popular of the lot and much more in demand than the others.
The Khukuri is generally divided into two parts, the blade and the handle. The blade is forged steel/iron and the handle made of wood or animal horns. The ‘Dap’ or cover is made of wood and covered with buffalo leather. Besides the Khukuri, the sheath also comes with two other small knives (Khukuris) which are called ‘Karda’ and ‘Chakmak’.
Karda is sharp and could be used as a penknife (a Nepali proverb goes on to define how sharp the Karda is as the saying goes, ‘Khukuri bhanda Karda lagne’, which when translated means the Karda is sharper than the Khukuri.)
Chakmak is blunt and used to sharpen the Khukuri, however in the early times this was also served as flint to make fire by sparking on ‘jhulo’ (fibres).
Now, generally according to the shape of the blade a Khukuri can either be a Sirupatey or Buduney or Baspatey but according to some other special features it could also be reffered to as Talwarey, Bhunde, Kothimuhunde etc.
Sirupatey: ‘Siru’ is a long grass and ‘Patey’ is a leaf, therefore the Sirupatey is sleek and slender in make.
Kothimuhunde: This type is especially made for gifting purpose as they have more detailing work but not necessarily practical to use for work purpose.
I do hope that this short write up gives you a bit of an insight on the Khukuri, which has been our symbol of pride for eons.
(I would like the thank my Kaka, Lawan Pradhan for the beautiful collection he has acquired over the years and for allowing me to document it. All photographs of the Khukuris are from his private collection).