The kirpaan is a sword or knife carried by Sikhs. It is a religious commandment given by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, that Sikhs must wear five articles of faith at all times, the kirpaan being one of five articles.
The word kirpaan has two roots: the first root is kirpa, which means "mercy", "grace", "compassion" or "kindness"; the second root is aanaa, which in turn means "honor", "grace" or "dignity".
Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a Sant Sipahi or "saint-soldier" with the courage to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of their color, caste, or creed. Kirpans are curved and have a single cutting edge that may be either blunt or sharp. They are often between 3.0 inches (7.6 cm) and 9.0 inches (23 cm) long, and must be made of steel or iron.