Monday, March 20, 2017

Kukris – History and Legend

The Bowie Knife. The Stiletto. The Machete. The Scimitar.  These are the names of four of the most celebrated knives/swords in history. The Kukri, the national knife of Nepal, deserves a place in that pantheon. The earliest record of the Kukri (pronounced “Khukuri” in Nepal) dates back to 1627 but the tool really only came into prominence during the Anglo-Nepal War in 1814 when the untrained Gurkhas armed with unique looking blades fought the most powerful empire of the time to a stalemate.

Since then, the British and the Gurkhas have fought side by side, including the World Wars I&II. The Gurkhas were also famously part of the British Task Force which took back the Falklands from Argentina in 1982. The effectiveness of the Kukri is best illustrated in one unconfirmed but popular story regarding that war. As propaganda, pictures were published and circulated of Gurkhas sharpening their weapons, a move designed to unnerve the Argentine conscript soldiers. It is said the latter promptly surrendered the area. 

Traditionally, the Gurkha Kukri is fashioned by the Nepalese “Kami” clan of blacksmiths.  Since it is compact in size, less metal is used to make a Kukri than a conventional sword. The knife averages about 14–16 inches in length comprising a steel blade and a wooden, metal or bone curved handle. The Kukri also exhibits a distinct notch at the start of the blade (see Image). One unverified theory is that it prevents blood from flowing to the handle. Also, it is shaped like the hoof of a cow which is considered holy and worshiped by the Nepalese. 

So, how did the Kukri get its distinctive curved shape? There are theories aplenty. Some believe that the knife descended from the Greek Kopis. Others liken it to the Macedonian sword carried by Alexander’s troops in 4th century BC. Another theory suggests that the build is similar to old Japanese swords.

You can check out our wide range of Kukris here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Tomahawk – History and Evolution

The tomahawk was the creation of the Algonquian Indians in Native America. The term is derived from the Algonquian words “tamahak” or “tamahakan," which means a tool for cutting. The original tomahawks were not the sleek metal beauties you see these days. Rather, they were stone heads attached to wooden handles and secured by rawhide. Somewhat crude? Yes. Effective? Mighty.  They were great for hunting, chopping, and cutting.

The Europeans introduced the metal blade to the Native Indians about four centuries ago and the local tribes quickly embraced it. These were created by European and American craftsmen and were used as diplomatic gifts for the tribes. By then, the tomahawk’s poll, the side opposite the blade, comprised a hammer, spike or pipe. The
pipe tomahawks were extremely useful tools.

During the Revolutionary War (1775–83) the tomahawk became a highly convenient and sought-after weapon. Guns took time to reload and the tomahawk was considered a far better option for close combat. The tool also featured in World War II and the Korean War. However, as technology evolved and guns became dependable implements, the tomahawk faded into near obscurity. It was to make a comeback during the Vietnam War when Peter LaGana, a World War II veteran of Mohawk descent, fashioned and sold tomahawks to the American troops. LaGana’s tactical tomahawks were more durable than the ones that came before.

Today, tomahawks are crafted by companies in America and can also be found in Europe. Native Indian blacksmiths still exist who are experts in making this tool. While its material as changed over the centuries, the tomahawk remains a versatile weapon which is handy in camping and more convenient than hatchets due to its light weight. Modern tomahawks are made of special alloy steel, the blade and the spike are tougher and shock resistant. It is a more universal tool these days and used in games like throwing competitions. (Check out this competition tomahawk.)

At Atlanta Cutlery, we offer high-quality tomahawks and a range of other throwing weapons.