The knife is even an older type of weapons than the sword and the spear. Ancient people used it as mean of protection or attack, it served at the same time for hunting as well as for combat. The knives reached a very wide diversity due to its use in different areas: crafting, medical, cosmetology, etc.
A specific role of the knife was its significance in the symbolic systems of different cultures, which indeed led to enlargement of its functions. Eventually the knives became a direct attribute of rite playing the role of talismans, fetishes and amulets (mainly worn by men, but also by children and women for protection). The knives were bearers of great powers being considered sacred objects endowed with magical potential. The role of ritual knives were played either by poly-functional knives (which were involved in more activities than one) or by specially created knives (meant only for ritual purposes).
A special role the knives played in India, they served as the most elevated attributes of the higher castes:Kshatriya, Rajputana and Sikh. Sinhalese cult of Sri Lanka the knife is considered the indicator of courage, kingship and aristocratism.
Bladed Ritual Weapons
From antiquity the bladed weapons (particularly knives and swords) were considered symbols of power, indicator of social statute, and attributes of men. For, example in Nepal the Khadha sword with wide and slightly curved blade was considered the symbol of king. The Yataghan (or Scimar) was a Turkish attribute of power and the official weapon of janissary. The Japanese katana was also a privileged sword and was wielded only by samurais. For Mongol men a symbol of power was the belt which was always equipped with a knife – Khuda.
One of the main predestination of the blades was the ability to defeat the enemy. In many traditional cultures the act of physical annihilation was always linked to ceremonial actions. For example, in Sumatra the Kris blade served as execution weapon.
The knife is very often associated with ritual killings of the living beings and with bloodshed; this is why there existed certain interdictions regarding their use. For example, in Mongolia it was prohibited to pass the cutting edge through fire in order not to ‘cut the head’ of it.
The custom to keep the blade secured in a sheath or the prohibition to direct it to a person existed in Mediterranean, Caucasian, Middle East, Central Asia, Indian and Nepali regions, and even in Southern America.
In Turkmenia and in some regions of Central Asia was allowed to kill with Pchak knife, whereas the Djouher was prohibited for use against enemies or in animal sacrifice rituals, it was made only for the blood feud (vendetta).
In the medieval Europe the sword was used as the main tool of the executioner. It was prohibited to use the same sword in battles or for other purposes.