Since a Kukri
is a symbol of bravery and pride of Gurkhas, every part of this beast has to be made with exacting craftsmanship. Though the war
eras have long ended, the blade with its beautifully crafted wooden handle not only looks majestic out of the sheath; but also symbolizes strength and proud heritage of the Gurkha who persevered through hardships and went toe-to-toe against more-advanced weaponry just with this traditional weapon.
A poorly crafted handle reduces both the overall value and utility of a Kukri, so, care has to be taken to make the handle fit best to the blade for superior performance. A handle not only determines the usability and comfort of the user, it also gives a feel for the weapon as it is where we connect with the weapon physically.
This article tries to explain about best Kukri knives
, swords and blade handle in terms of construction and wood variety used. Let's dive right in, and learn about the various handles used.
These are the preferred handles of choice on not only kukri, but also on most combat weapons as they transmit lesser vibration and shift the weight towards the blade where it counts. They also absorb shocks better and prevent injury to joints. Wooden handles with roughed surfaces were sometimes also used by the Gurkhas as the wood would absorb sweat from the hands, and 'fit' better to the user. In combat, one would prefer a tear drop shape to a perfectly oval form as it would help feel the edges better, but nowadays, many different kinds are made. A humble wooden knife is also a great addition to any collection.
Wood is very durable, provides a better grip than any other material and is cheap, so it has been used as the de-facto material for Kukri handles
, with the variety used depending on the locality where the Kukri is made. Small weaponry blades or decorative blades usually have handles made from durable hardwoods like Karam wood, Sal (Shorea robusta), oak, and Hill walnut. Medium hard-wood like Alder (Alnus nepalensis) is used to make long kukri sword-handles
used in fieldwork/agriculture.
Tools, like small Kukri knives or curved Kukri- that are used very frequently (e.g. in cutting grass) are made from softwoods like Juniper and Pine due to ease of replacement and better grip.
Often, the wood handles also contain small brass fixtures of decorative symbols like a map of Nepal, court of arms, Gurkha insignia, National flag or something custom.
Hand-made by skilled artisans, splendidly crafted wooden handles are not only aesthetically pleasing but also provide unmatched comfort in utility. Making sure that every handle for each unique blade is fully matched and the best fit, is one of the exquisite details kukris at Famous Gurkha Kukri House
Water-buffalo horns are traditionally chosen for handles of both large and small blades or decorative blades due to its beauty. When a kukri isn't intended to be used on a regular basis, horn is the material of choice, as, in spite of it's relatively inferior grip; it is waterproof in addition to being durable. A superbly treated horn on a kukri handle is meant to compliment the finesse of the scabbard (made from buffalo skin). When a water buffalo dies, its horn is shaped into a handle, which, being light-weight, is an ideal knife for handy work. It comes in both Chainpure and Sirupate varieties.
Ivory, due to its glamorous looks, and the beauty in its glossy finish, has been used to make decorative highly-prized Kukris. Ornate Kukris have, in addition to fine-carved ivory, very detailed pieces that make it look more like an art-piece than a deadly weapon. Nepal now has provisions for CITES ban on ivory trade owing to threats to elephants due to illegal poaching. However, Ivory Kukris have been made from naturally deceased elephants without harming elephants. Do look into your local/state legislation before purchasing one.
Also a sought-after material for making handles of small decorative Kukris and scales on the wooden handle, bone is popular as it can impart a subtle classy finish while being dyed to a shade that suits the blade best. Bones have a lower friction coefficient than wood, making it easier to handle. The bones used traditionally were from buffaloes. Shin bones from castles have also been used. A longer bone from a buffalo is still preferred to short one as the finished handle shape and size depends on the length and uniformity of the bone available.
Metal Kukri has a specific feel and quality unique to them that is very different from the wood ones. Metal is very durable and lasts a very long time. In use, however, metal handles do not absorb shocks well, and, if used with improper technique, the transferred momentum can hurt joints. Fully metal handles are usually used on Ornate Kukris.
Iron is widely used as it is locally available. Gurkha Kukris
have been said to be constructed from Brass alloys that are used to add to the finesse of wooden handles. They can be found on Panjawal Kukri and a variety of Kukris including Palpali and Sirupate Kukri, to provide a better fit to the fingers, and overall improved performance during use.