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Ethunu kaduwa.jpg
A pair of multi-bladed Sri Lankan ethunu kaduwa wielded by an Angampora practitioner
Place of origin Indian subcontinent
Lengthapprox. 122–168 cm (48–66 in)

Urumi (Malayalam: urumi; Sinhalese: ethunu kaduwa; Hindi: āra) is a sword with a flexible, whip-like blade, originating in modern-day Kerala in the Indian subcontinent. It is thought to have existed from as early as the Sangam period.


It is treated as a steel whip [1] and therefore requires prior knowledge of that weapon as well as the sword. For this reason, the urumi is always taught last in Indian martial arts such as Kalaripayattu.

The word urumi is used to refer to the weapon in Malayalam. In Kerala, it is also called chuttuval, from the Malayalam words for "coiling," or "spinning,"(chuttu) and "sword" (val). [1] Alternatively, Tamil names for the weapon are surul katti (coiling knife), surul val (coiling sword) and surul pattakatti (coiling machete).


The urumi hilt is constructed from iron or brass and is identical to that of the talwar , complete with a crossguard and frequently a slender knucklebow. The typical handle is termed a "disc hilt" from the prominent disc-shaped flange surrounding the pommel. The pommel often has a short decorative spike-like protrusion projecting from its centre. The blade is fashioned from flexible edged steel measuring three-quarters to one inch in width. Ideally, the length of the blade should be the same as the wielder's armspan, usually between 4 feet to 5.5 feet. Multiple blades are often attached to a single handle. The Sri Lankan variation can have up to 32 blades and is typically dual-wielded, with one in each hand. [2]


Gatka exponent giving an urumi demonstration Bhujangi showing Urumi - Aara skills.jpg
Gatka exponent giving an urumi demonstration

The urumi is handled like a flail arm but requires less strength since the blade combined with centrifugal force is sufficient to inflict injury. As with other "soft" weapons, urumi wielders learn to follow and control the momentum of the blade with each swing, thus techniques include spins and agile manoeuvres. [1] These long-reaching spins make the weapon particularly well suited to fighting against multiple opponents. When not in use, the urumi is worn coiled around the waist like a belt, with the handle at the wearer's side like a conventional sword. [1]


A peptide found in the mucus of a South Indian frog is named urumin. This name is inspired from the urumi, since urumin kills the H1N1 flu virus effectively. [3] [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Urumin is a naturally occurring 27-amino acid virucidal host defense peptide against the human influenza A virus. It was discovered and isolated from the skin of Hydrophylax bahuvistara, a species of frog found in South India, by a team of Emory University researchers. The team that discovered urumin tested the peptide against 8 different H1N1 and 4 different H3N2 viruses, as well as various other influenza viruses. The peptide specifically targets the evolutionarily conserved H1 hemagglutinin stalk region of H1-containing influenza A viruses. Additionally, urumin was active against drug-resistant influenza A viruses, that were resistant against oseltamivir, zanamivir and peramivir. While its mechanism of action is not fully understood, urumin seems to inhibit viral growth by physically destroying influenza A virions, and is able to protect naive mice from doses of influenza A infection as high as 2 times the LD50. Because of its specific targeting of the hemagglutinin stalk region of the influenza A virus, the mechanism of action of urumin is similar to that of antibodies induced in the body by universal influenza vaccines. Urumin was also tested for toxicity against erythrocytes and showed a TD50 of 2,450 μM and TI of 664.7, indicating a favorable toxicity profile against erythrocytes. As such, urumin may represent the basis for a potential first-line antiviral treatment against influenza A, particularly in the context of influenza outbreaks, although the discoverers of the peptide have stated that urumin is far from becoming an anti-flu drug. Urumin was named after Urumi, a sword used in Kalaripayattu, the martial art of Kerala, where it was discovered.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Saravanan, T. (January 14, 2005). "Valorous Sports Metro Plus Madurai". The Hindu . Archived from the original on January 28, 2007.
  2. "හෙළයේ සටන් රහස අංගම්" [Angam fighting in Hela]. Lankadeepa (in Sinhala). September 7, 2013. Archived from the original on October 18, 2013.
  3. Mole, Beth (April 19, 2017). "South Indian frog oozes molecule that inexplicably decimates flu viruses". Ars Technica . Archived from the original on January 30, 2018.
  4. Holthausen, David J.; et al. (April 18, 2017). "An Amphibian Host Defense Peptide Is Virucidal for Human H1 Hemagglutinin-Bearing Influenza Viruses" (PDF). Immunity . 46 (4): 587–595. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2017.03.018. PMID   28423338. S2CID   29119302.