10 Nepali Weapons that were used before Guns were invented!
When you think about Nepali Weapons the first thing that comes into your mind is Khukuri. This is to be expected as there are not many weapons that are specifically made in Nepal or specific to Nepal. But despite this, it does not mean that there are no Nepali Weapons.
These weapons are sure to be found in other places but they were still used in Nepal and come from Nepal as well. Why are weapons which are used in other places still considered to be Nepali you may ask? The reason has more or less to do with the weapon as a lot of weapons were invented simultaneously at different places at the same time and are rather commonly found in all places of the world.
If you think about it, a lot of weapons are all over the world, and although countries do have their special weapons a lot of weapons are common all over the world. With that being said, today we have 10 Nepali weapons which were used before the invention of guns.
1. Khukuri (खुकुरी)
This has to be the first one on our list for obvious reasons. Not only is Khukuri our National weapon but is also one of the unique weapons of Nepal. The shape of the Khukuri is a well known one. It is a blade that has a slight curve towards the top and is slim at the bottom but wide near the top. Why is the shape of Khukuri the way it is? The reason is that this weapon was built to be functional. The top of Khukuri is heavy meaning that this weapon can also be used to chop off wood without damaging the blade.
With the top being heavy, the force needed to chop wood is there and along with this since Khukuri is basically a short sword, it can kill as easily as any other short swords. One misconception that a lot of people have is that Khukuri was the primary weapon of Nepali soldiers which is not the truth. Short swords were never used as a primary weapon and were the last weapon a soldier ever used. This is because although the killing power is high, the range is limited and in a war, the better range you have between you and your opponent, the safer you will be.
2. Shield – Dhal (ढाल)
For those who don’t know what Dhal is, it is a shield. This is a common weapon found in all of the civilizations and cultures and not just Nepal. What makes Nepali Shield or Dhal different from those all around the world is the addition of bumps on the surface. The composition of this weapon is mostly wood. The wood provides the core strength and it is covered by a thick layer of steel.
On the front of the shields, there will be bumps. Now, these bumps are not just for decoration as they can be used to lessen the damage taken by the shield during defending and also deflect the enemy’s sword. The main weakness of the shield is a spear but with the additional bumps, the Nepalese shield is a bit more suited to face against a spear as the bumps act as a protective barrier against the tip preventing it from reaching the core of the shield.
3. Buckler – Kuteko (कुटेको)
Not a lot of people know what a buckler is. Even if you do know what a buckler is you probably have never heard its Nepali name. If you are wondering what a buckler is, it is just a small shield which is just a bit bigger than one’s hand. Why do Nepalese need a smaller shield when they have got a Dhal?
The reason is that while the job of the shield is to protect and defend the job of the buckler is to provide support. You can always use this as a shield if needed but you have to remember that shields are heavy and are meant for people who have a lot of strength. Buckler on the other hand does not need much strength and is meant for people with agility.
Nepali’s with their short height naturally have a lot more agility than the foreigners with their big body and this was a vital part of their arms. Not only does this provide protection against most of the attack but also gives a lot of space to counter-attack. The combination of Buckler and Khukuri was said to be especially deadly as Nepali can easily slip in between the gap using buckler to defend and hook enemy weapons to finish up them with the Khukuri.
4. Sword – Kora Talwar (कोरा तल्वार)
Since we have already mentioned Khukuri which is in the category of a short sword, we also have to include Talwar as well which is a regular sword. Just like with shields, this is a common weapon all around the world but Nepalese have brought a twist to these as well. While the swords of other places are meant for stabbing and slashing the majority of the swords of Nepali were meant for hooking and slashing.
If you have ever visited ancient museums you will more or less find a sword which is flat at the top and has a slight curve there. This was the sword that was used by the majority of Nepalese soldiers in ancient times. There are of course the classic swords as well but they were not used for the reason being, the use of buckler and shield. If you try to stab slash a shield then your blade will suffer damage and your enemy will remain unharmed.
But if your sword has a forward curved tip, then even if you miss the enemy with the main body of the sword, the tip will still inflict damage and since the tip is curved, you can always yank it off.
5. Broadsword -Khadga (खड्ग)
Since we are on the topic of swords, let’s talk about Khadga. This may sound like a mythical weapon, but it is not. Khadga is a real-life and practical weapon. This basically is a heavy and broad sword which was meant mostly for decoration and ritual sacrifice but if needed this could be used in battle for slashing and cutting. Being a ritualistic and a decorative sword, naturally not a lot of people did use this but whoever did use this were those who didn’t care much about armors and shields or were rich civilians who needed a weapon or pujaris in a temple which used Khadgas to sacrifice other living beings.
The only drawback of this weapon is that since this was a heavy and a two-handed weapon, the one using this was vulnerable against cavalry and archers. Along with this, the blade was rather soft and lasted only one battle as this was not meant to be a sword for war. It should be noted that since this had a wide blade it could also act as an impromptu shield and could defend the wielders against most slashing weapons and archers to some extent and although mostly for decorations, there have been instances where this sword has been used for defense.
6. Spear – Bhala (भाला)
One of the easiest to use and cheap weapons of all is the spear. The production cost is rather cheap and all you have to do is point the sharp end and push to use this weapon. After all, this is nothing but a stick with a pointed edge. Also, this weapon has a long-range as well. Why is this weapon on this list is because of its importance while the attacks on Nepal was still a thing in the ancient days. Nepal is a small country and back in the days when it was not unified, all the states were even smaller. The smaller the area, the less the military manpower.
Due to this when there was a conquest going on, there was very few personnel left in the states to defend and this is where the spear comes into play. Due to its cheap production cost, ease to use, and range, this was a very important weapon to have while defending since all the civilians had to do was to stay inside the forts and poke these weapons from the numerous holes to defend the major forts.
7. Sickle – Hasiya (हसिया)
Just like the spear, hasiya, or sickle was also used by the civilians. To be fair, this is really not a weapon but a tool but since this is a blade, the sickle has been used as a weapon by the Nepalese civilians in the past. Back in the days a lot of Nepali were farmers and all the homes had a sickle to cut the grasses or weeds. Now in different parts of Nepal. sickles were in different shapes but all of them were curved. The degree of curvature differs with some having only a slight curve and some being heavily curved. Both of these were used in two different ways.
While the sickle we now commonly know with the big curve resulting in an almost round blade was used as a hook and slice weapon in times of war, the less common sickle which had a lot less curve was stuck on a stick and used as a spear which had a blade instead of a point. The highly curved one was used against the infantry while the slightly curved one was good against cavalry.
8. Axe – Bancharo (बन्चरो)
Just like hasiya this was also a common household tool. We all know what axe is used for, that is to split and chop wood. In battles, this weapon can also be used to kill and that should not be a surprise. This weapon is rather simple to use as well as all you have to do is swing it. If you are a civilian and are facing an armored army, an axe can be used against the armored opponents and that was what happened.
Since we have mentioned why Nepalese civilians were needed to defend earlier, it should be no surprise that common household tools were an important weapon for Nepali. To some extent that still is the case as there is no gun law in Nepal and all you have are household items to defend your home. Along with this while the sickle was mostly used by women in ancient times, axes were mostly used by men and were more familiar with it.
9. Mace – Gadda (गड्डा)
If you have ever watched Ramayan, then you know what this is. This although may seem fictional just like Khadga, is not a fictional weapon. Maces have been used throughout human history and are not a new concept of weapon. As a matter of fact, maces may be the first weapon that humans ever used after clubs as it is just a stick with a heavy and round and hardtop. What makes Gadda different from other maces is the shape and the weight.
Unlike what is shown in the Ramayana, the top is not like a ripe pumpkin but much smaller and the handle is much smaller as well. The shape is still the same though as depicted and the only difference was the size. In any army, a mace plays an important part as it is an anti-armor weapon and regardless of the armor, it smashes and deals damage. Gadda is the same as it is basically a Nepali version of the mace. It is simple to use as well for all you have to do is a swing and if you hit anything, you damage it.
10. Composite Bow – Dhanus Baan (धनु बाण)
Just like spear and club, bow and arrow are also one of those weapons which were developed everywhere at the same time. This is a simple weapon as well and is one of the main ranged weapons. Unknown to many is that the bows used by Nepali were composite bows. What is a composite bow you may ask? It is a bow which is made out of two materials rather than one. The inside part of the bow is made from a softer one while the outer part is made from a tougher one. Nepali is said to have used composite bows made from horns of different animals.
This gives more power to the bow while not increasing the size. The longbow that we all know is super huge and although the power is huge as well, not a lot of people can use it. The smaller bow has less power and is more or less impractical in battles. With the smaller height of Nepali the need for powerful weapons, Nepali borrowed this technique from their Tibetan neighbors who borrowed this from their Mongol neighbors.