Thursday, 1 March 2012

Leuku: The Knives Of Finland

In the pristine frozen north of europe where oily softwoods like birch and pine grow the Sammi people developed a form of knife known as the Leuku: long enough for chopping and light enough for carving this is the belt knife of the Boreal forests.  

Perkele is a Finish blogger and outdoorsman who keeps us posted with his 'slowly updating notes about me, my life, outdoor activities, bushcraft, knives, survival skills etc..'

He's just posted an excellent review of the work of some Finnish blade smiths and a history of the Leuku form. Well worth a read.

The way i see leuku, is that its a bigger knife, that was born in hands of saame people, who were back then, living a travelling life, and their knife was a about the most important tool, as it was expensive to get, as well as difficult to make back then. They didnt have, in most cases, anvils, nor a way to transport one always, so the rare people who had skills to make knives, became important part of society as well as good tradesmen. Ive heard that with one grown male reindeer, you could get two leukus, or two leukus and one womens leuku, if uou could get a bargain. Steels, were hard to get ,too, and the price of it was naturally higher than its now. They did not order leukus, i bet, like we do, with a phonecall or through an email, nor did they buy it from webshops. You had to travels for huge distances, with trading goods, to meet blacksmith or someone else who sold or traded knives and blades. You could not replace it in the true wilderness either, because the postoffices werent invented, so you really really had to keep your possibly only knife in a good safe and try not to loose it as it might mean the end of your life.

Leuku has been used in wast range of tasks, even before it "came" familiar to southern Finlands people. Its been used to skin animals, prep hides, gut, slice, chop meat, sliver branches off from the firewood, to butcher reindeerd, to build traps for birds, fish and big game like bears. They used it to carve icy and wet snow from sleds, pulks and harness of reindeer. Its not a lie, to say that if anything, leuku was a multitool of northern people.


More soon