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Among the oldest existing kukri are those belonging to Drabya Shah (circa 1559), housed in the National Museum of Nepal in Kathmandu.

The kukri came to be known to the Western world when the East India Company came into conflict with the growing Gorkha Kingdom, culminating in the Gurkha War of 1814–1816.

He was reported to have killed three of the bandits, wounded eight more and forced the rest of the band to flee. The shape varies a great deal from being quite straight to highly curved with angled or smooth spines.

There are substantial variations in dimensions and blade thickness depending on intended tasks as well as the region of origin and the smith that produced it.

He wears the distinctively tilted Hat Terrai Gurkha, the kukri can be seen attached to the back of his belt the small portion of the tang that projects through the end of the handle is hammered flat to secure the blade.

Kukri blades have a hard, tempered edge and a softer spine.

All Gurkha troops are issued with two kukri, a Service No.1 (ceremonial) and a Service No.2 (exercise); in modern times members of the Brigade of Gurkhas receive training in its use.

The weapon gained fame in the Gurkha War and its continued use through both World War I and World War II enhanced its reputation among both Allied troops and enemy forces.

Despite the popular image of Dracula having a stake driven through his heart at the conclusion of a climactic battle between Dracula's bodyguards and the heroes, Mina's narrative describes his throat being sliced through by Jonathan Harker's kukri and his heart pierced by Quincey Morris's Bowie knife.

It is a characteristic weapon of the Nepalese Army, the Royal Gurkha Rifles of the British Army, the Assam Rifles, the Assam Regiment, the Garhwal Rifles, the Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army, and of all Gurkha regiments throughout the world, so much so that some English-speakers refer to the weapon as a "Gurkha blade" or "Gurkha knife".

The kukri often appears in Nepalese heraldry and is used in many traditional rituals such as wedding ceremonies.

Larger examples are impractical for everyday use and are rarely found except in collections or as ceremonial weapons.

Smaller ones are of more limited utility, but very easy to carry.

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