Join Date: Mar 2011
Kukris: An Evolution in Pictures
First and foremost, this thread is not designed to be a definitive guide to the kukri, rather a visual repository of the more commonly encountered styles. At the current moment in time there is nobody on earth qualified to do justice to such a vast subject. Many have tried, and all have failed.
The reasons for this are legion, and to a large extent, entirely understandable. Primary amongst them are the sheer variety of examples, both civilian and military. Such pieces have been made for at least 400 years, in several different countries, by thousands of different people.
A serious, authoritative text would take a dedicated group of researcher’s years to compile, and with new discoveries being made nearly every week, the need for updates would be frequent.
To further complicate matters, over the last ten years, much of the online discussion has been dominated by two people, who share a personal enmity. This has usually meant that many otherwise useful threads have deteriorated into squabbling, insults, and even bullying, with the unfortunate result of turning many people off an otherwise fascinating subject, and making most unwilling to share their own pieces.
Therefore what follows is more intended to be a guide to those interested parties who wish to know more, so they might have an idea of what they have encountered, should they be lucky enough to find a kukri.
It must be remembered that kukris are both weapon and tool combined, and as such can be found in both military and civilian form. More confusingly, sometimes a military blade will become a civilian one, and sometimes vice versa. We will try not to get bogged down with this too much here, but always something to bear in mind.
When using terms I have largely opted for those developed by western scholars and collectors. When such terms are employed, I will endeavour to explain why and how such names came about. It must be remembered that to most Nepalese a kukri is a kukri, whether it be 200 years old, or direct from the Kami’s work bench.
However, where appropriate, and available, Nepalese terms will be used.
For example, the small knives at the back of the scabbard, usually housed behind a pouch (Khissa) are known as a Karda (the small skinning/utility knife) and a chakmak (a sharpening steel)
1) The earliest types.
Lambendh: Literal translation, “Long Handle”
Hanshee: A corruption of “Hansiya” meaning sickle.
Widely acknowledged by most people as being amongst the earliest form of kukri. The main characteristics include a long handle, usually five inches or more, and a curved blade. The blades curve can vary from very steep to gentle and shallow. Many of the earlier types feature a distinct “step” in the blade.
Grip materials can vary from wood, horn, metal and ivory. They can be plain, or decorated, but all will feature a grip ring.
They are sought after pieces, and some of the earliest provenanced examples in Europe date to the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16.
Below are some examples.