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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The leuku


What a knife,why?,because its been used and developed by the people of the far north, people who relied on this knife 24hrs a day,they didnt have the option of putting in their favorite knife in their rucksac and going bush for a weekend jolly.
The leuku was developed over many years to deal with wood chopping tasks that an axe would find difficuilt.The tundra is full of springy boughs,saplings of willow and birch,Try using an axe against this kind of tree growth and see the result,more likely the axe would bounce back at you.The thin blade of the leuku was designed not to be springy,and the thin edge cut into this kind of wood with ease.In the frozen northern lands survival is so important,blizzards can catch you out,and can kill you.The sami had their leukus on there belts at all times,in the event of a coming blizzard and being caught away from camp a sami would have to either build a snow hole or a shelter very quickly,What did he use?Yes his leuku,chopping of wood requires effort,and will produce sweating,if the snow storm lasted several hours and the sami had sweated he could die within an hour in his shelter,This is the seriuosness of the artic north.With his leuku he would select saplings hold them in the middle and one or two chops with his leuku would cut them to a desired size,quickly and effectively thus produce less effort and no sweating.
The leukus design enabled the person to use it with an over glove or mitten(remember these people wouldnt want to be taking of clothing and putting them on again) in conditions of the far north,within little time exposed hands would freeze and become numb.The handle had no metal rivets or metal parts,thus preventing hands being injured on frozen metal parts,a handle with an exposed full tang is a nightmare waiting to happen in such an enviroment,your hand would stick to the metal,and the result would be the tearing of flesh to release it.any rivets also would do the same.The effectiveness of this blade enabled its user to use pull cuts,when wearing mittens,something a full convex blade has trouble with,A pull cut is the most effective way of carving when wearing over mitts etc.
The thin blade is an effective slicer of meat,and the back of the blade enabled the breaking of bones and antlers,it was even used for filleting,and paring.Its point was thicker and allowed it to be hammered into ice,for ice holes etc.
And of course not forgetting its ability to be sharpened on most rough surfaces.
The sheath also was important and designed with thought,its dangle method allowed ease of access when wearing it with layers,it could be held with over mitts and taken out easily,there was no way this knife would be under layers of clothing it had to be on their belts on their last layer where it could be reached. Is dangle method also prevented uncomfortable digging into and pulling at the belt when sitting,This i totally agree with..
Looking at the art work the sami put into making of their knives one can see how important it was to them...
I myself have used a leuku for many years,i am able to write all the above because of this,im a firm believer in its simplicity and usefullness.A while ago i gave my leuku away to a good friend,he has told me of his love for it and the many many uses he has done with it...Now winter approaches i find my mind wandering with thoughts of snow,ice and colder days,and a leuku..I happened to have a leuku blade lying around this was the partner of my old leuku,i was going to get round to putting a handle on it but didnt.But perhaps now i heard the call of the north,and i have now a new leuku..i will post more details later on it..My leuku has been reborn.

6 comments:

John Genis said...

A Great article Grimbo, Well written and researched.

grimbo said...

thanks john.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting point about exposed metal in the handle in sub-zero conditions - hadn't considered this before. You may well be right. The stick tang of course also lends itself to forming a rivet at the butt, the simplest form of fixing the handle when glues and fine metal rod were more difficult to come by. A stick tang also makes efficient use of metal, an expensive resource historically. Early medieval knives were largely of this type across all of Europe; you have a puuko/leuku there, but it might just as easily be a medieval English utility knife from London - I have a reproduction of the latter which is almost exactly the same as your 'modern' scandi knife in the picture, but for a spearpoint blade. I find inspiration in these ancient tools that goes beyond the proven utility - there is a connection there with the ancestors. Good article Grim :) Phil (hobbes)

Ghostofthewoods said...

Nice read Grimbo. Al.

grimbo said...

thanks,and good to hear from you phil,hows tricks,send me an email if you can,cheers m8.

Le Loup said...

Good one.

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