7 Intriguing Knives from World History

Weapons are consistently being evolved with advanced technology. Though, knives have stood a long lasting test of time.

History has given us unique variations of the humble knife and some of them were really not humble. Let’s take a look at the most fascinating ones.

1. Kukri

The Kukri symbolizes Nepalese nation and the Gurkha troops that made it popular. The Gurkhas’ fighting power gained them a repute of fearless soldiers.

The Gurkhas and their kukri blade knives became so well-know, the British used posters of them perfecting their kukris as publicity to arouse fear in the Argentine military in the Falklands war.

Kukri Knives

Typically, a Kukri blade knife is 40-46 centimeters long. It looks quite similar to a machete and primarily used as a chopping weapon.

They were initially used by Himalayan farmers, however, it evolved from a simple farming tool and today used both as a utility knife and weapon.

One fascinating feature is the notch close to the grip which directs blood away thus preventing the handle from getting wet. It is believed that kukris were used in rituals to behead animals and bring good wealth to a village.

2. Jambiyas

Jambiyas are wide and double-edged knives mainly worn as a symbol of social class in Yemen. It is even said that men would better die if they are seen in public without Jambiyas. In Tihama, young boys were awarded their first Jambiyas after going through a ritual ceremony.


They are beautifully decorated even with gold. According to one report, Yemen imports about 1,500 rhino horns every year for its Jambiyas. Rhino horn shavings was a huge business in Yemen where 1 Kg of unprocessed horn powder worth almost $1,000.

3. Sai

Sai is often associated with Japanese martial arts. It is believed that they have been developed during the Ming dynasty and brought to Okinawa from China. Similar to Stiletto, it is a stabbing weapon and doesn’t feature any cutting edge.

Sai Daggers

Sai resemble the parrying daggers of Europe and their pronged shape deflect blows. They have been seen as useful weapons like Japanese swords (such as the straight Katana).

When Okinawa declined under domineering rule from the Japanese government, many metal tools and weapons were banned. Though today the traditional practice of saijutsu using sai is permitted to some extent but banging the weapons against one another is still forbidden.

4. Kris

Kris is a Javanese dagger seen both as a weapon and spiritual object. They were known for their magical powers. Several ancient krises were forged from the astral iron of a meteorite that feels somewhat 200 years ago near the shrines of Prambanan.

Kris Dagger

Eventually, they were considered sacred objects. Kris is strongly associated with Indonesian culture. The sliding shape of the blade is linked with the snake-like naga from folklore.

Even the pattern in the steel is believed to act as a talisman. Some kris were made using various kinds of steel with different carbon content. Mixing steel in this way is known as pattern welding giving an appearance of a famed Damascus blade.

5. Turkana Wrist Knives

The Turkana people of Africa prominently used wrist knives. People following the indigenous religion believe that all domesticated animals are theirs by divine right. This has led to countless bullocks’ raids and border battles.

Turkana Wrist Knife

The people of Turkana continuously carried the campaign to expand their region. Valuing martial prowess, their men used to carry a wide range of weapons including wrist knives, spears, and shields. Wrist knives were usually crafted out of steel or iron which was beaten into a shape by a rock.

These were worn on the right hand by both men and women. This weapon of war had several other uses. They were always available to cut food and also used for settling differences in the tribe. It was strictly prohibited to kill another Turkana using a spear, consequently, wrist knives were used to deal with internal disputes.

6. Kujang

The Kujang is a sickle-shaped blade which is believed to keep the stability of the world. Unlike other blades, the shape of Kujang was created after a vision of a Javanese king. It was originally a farming gizmo.


King Kudo Lalean claimed that he saw this weapon symbolizing the united Java island in a foretelling vision. Three holes were shaped on the weapon to symbolize the three major responsibilities of the Hindu religion.

The three holes were changed into five to represent the five pillars of Islam later on.

7. Kila

Kilas are ceremonial daggers developed in ancient India and later found immense popularity in Tibet where they were known as phurba. Kila grips vary in the design and depict a variety of divine creatures. This three-edged blade represents the breaking of ignorance, voracity, and anger.

Kila Dagger

Kilas were holy objects and therefore they were not used as weapons. They were believed to be the ultimate fighting weapons against supernatural. The tool was used for killing demons and evil spirits.


Throughout the world history, knives have played a very significant role in human civilizations as weapons and cultural symbols. Different philosophies have approached knives from varying perspectives.

If you have read this far, you must be surprised to know the historical context of these knives. Not only they were used as weapons of war but more importantly as unique ethnic symbols.

What did you find most interesting about these knives? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Watch this space for updates in the Facts category on RWR.

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Danial Fletcher

Content marketer. Writer by day, reader by the night. I have a passion for helping people in every aspect of online marketing flow and awareness by covering different niches.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Francois

    Thank you for this cool article. I am a bladesmith and I really enjoyed it.

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