A class of small Finnish
knives used historically by those in northern Lapland
who keep reindeer
. Similar to a dagger, the puukko has many uses including carving wood, as a weapon, and to skin a hunter or fisherman's catch. Like other Finnish
words, though, English
translations are incomplete. 'Puukko' is more than just a knife - the Finnish
word is meant to embody the dependability
of the knife, its strength, etc.
Over time the puukko has evolved into something of both usefulness and of beauty. A puukko consists of a hilt with a small blade with a sheath that usually is attached to a belt. The finest puukkos are hand-made. Unfortunately, few take up the profession as it requires many different skills - that of a blacksmith, jeweler, leatherworker, and designer.
There is still tradition dating back to the 1830s of industrial production of the knives also. At this time, English and Swedish metal workers came to Finland to work at factories and to pass their expertise on to the Finnish workers. Older factory-produced puukkos are coveted and can be worth thousands of dollars.
While Finland has always been a place of technological advance, the puukko also still has a place in many people's pockets next to their cell phones. Cheap puukkos can be purchased at any gas station for less than a pack of cigarrettes. The vast majority of Finnish men have had a puukko at one time in their life.
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