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The type of khukuri Kami Sherpa carried in the Indian Gurkha regiment

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by Howard Wallace, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. Howard Wallace

    Howard Wallace . Moderator

    Feb 23, 1999
    Kami Sherpa had 5 years of service in an Indian Gurkha regiment back in the 50s. Prior to that he spent several years in advanced study with Tibetan Buddhist lamas. This is very rigorous academic training in philosophy, meditation, and debate/oratory. His karma swept him into military service before he completed those studies though. Had it not, he might have ended up a lama and the whole history of HI and the khukuri in the west might be quite different.

    I asked Kami Sherpa about the kukri he carried during his service. That khukuri disappeared, but he had a very similar one of Indian manufacture that he had been using around the house for the last couple of decades. It was of the design many of you have seen before, coming out of India. A wooden chiruwa handle with a thick, blocky central ring. Many years ago I had an inexpensive one of that design and the wood had pulled away from the tang. It would tear up my hands when chopping and I finally gave it away. Kami Sherpa’s Indian knife was well worn and comfortable in the hand though, helping me understand how serviceable that design can be.

    I still prefer the Nepalese designs, and the British Gurkha regiment standards. HI craftsmanship is generally much superior, with better fit and finish and a more refined design for the central locking ring. However, the Indian design can be better crafted than those we often see. It is quite interesting that a well crafted knife of this design has seen so many years of hard service right in the heart of the HI operation.
    5E515BEC-1778-4132-94AF-573D8031EE46.jpeg 63BA4D1B-F247-49DC-A324-F0CBA840627F.jpeg
     
    George Azar, Bookie and TedPalmer like this.
  2. Bookie

    Bookie Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 25, 2014
    Interesting read, Howard. I had recently asked Mrs. Martino about her Father's khukuri. Thanks for sharing.
     
  3. davidf99

    davidf99 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    I'm glad that Howard's posting is focused on the handle of kami Sherpa's khukuri. In my experience the handle of a working knife is as important as the steel (assuming that the steel is well forged), but this is often underestimated. The blade of a knife might vary in length by an inch or two without making much difference, but if the handle doesn't fit your hand the functionality is impaired.

    Yangdu always provides overall length of her postings, and this together with the pictures allows us to estimate the handle length. I've noticed that this is not the case for many, probably most, of the knives posted on the Bladeforums Exchange. Sellers always give the blade length, but much less often the overall length. A potential buyer can perhaps deduce the handle length, but "blade length" is ambiguous. Some sellers mean the sharpened edge of the blade, while others mean the length from tip to handle, which could differ by as much as an inch. That much difference in the handle can make it way too short or long.

    Then there's the matter of handle comfort, but apart from length and girth that's hard to quantify. You have to judge by the shape, which can be a pretty good guide if you've handled many knives.

    I have a very large, beautiful knife that is one of my favorites. The butt has a nice wraparound shape that would lock the hand into the handle perfectly, except that the handle is an inch too long. I can still wield the knife, but the grip would be a lot stronger with a shorter handle. That's a case where the maker seems to have gone for looks rather than function. The ring on a traditional khukuri handle can play the same role of locking the hand in place, but this particular knife does not have a ring.

    I've noticed that Filipino knives are particularly good in this respect. Many of those designs have wraparound shapes that lock the hand in place. This 22" kris has a large "knob" pommel that serves the same purpose:

    PhilippineKris22in-HornHandle22oz-01.jpg
     
  4. Bawanna

    Bawanna Moderator Moderator

    Dec 19, 2012
    I'm sure the Kami's have a few frustrating moments as they request larger handles for ham fisted Americans.
    The traditional handles they are more accustomed to making work fine for average sized hands, at least mine anyhow, I guess that's the one thing that's average on me.

    I'm particularly fond of Thamar's knives for that reason, traditional shape and usually smaller although lately there were a few that I found quite large.

    Guess it's easier to reduce them in size than it is to add girth so maybe I got nothing to whine about.
     
  5. George Azar

    George Azar Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 18, 2017
    Thank you for sharing. When I saw that photo and you said India, I thought to myself I might have 1 like it. Does this look like it? It’s made in India.
    Thank you again. 32AD0FAD-105E-4F5C-B229-5F45E554A87E.jpeg 0013E320-8B40-4F9E-A911-D89E8FFF364A.jpeg
     
  6. Bawanna

    Bawanna Moderator Moderator

    Dec 19, 2012
    Looks very much like it.
     
    George Azar likes this.
  7. George Azar

    George Azar Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 18, 2017
    That’s what I thought when I saw those photos.
     
  8. davidf99

    davidf99 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    I've seen many made-in-India knives with that blade shape and handle type for sale on that giant auction site that we don't mention here. Like any other design, probably some are well made, and some aren't. In purely practical terms it looks like that type of handle would be easier to make than the more well-defined handle shapes of most HI knives.
     
    George Azar likes this.
  9. George Azar

    George Azar Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 18, 2017
    This was purchased from a different location. A more reputable that can’t be disclosed on here. I’ve owned it 20+ yrs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
  10. Yangdu

    Yangdu [email protected] Himalayan Imports-Owner Moderator

    Apr 5, 2005
    Great pix and post, thank you Howard
    I will have our Kmais make few replica for forumites collection.
     
  11. Yangdu

    Yangdu [email protected] Himalayan Imports-Owner Moderator

    Apr 5, 2005
    George Azar likes this.

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