Friday, July 30, 2010

Crooked Knives

The crook knife is a unique tool created by the Native Americans of the Northeastern American Woodlands. They were the essential native wood working tool, used to create everything from canoes to wigwams. The earliest examples are fitted with trade knives or razor blades. I do knot know if this tool existed before the introduction of steel to North America. Perhaps someone with a greater understanding of pre-historic Indian tools can add a comment about this question.

Shown at the top is an original 19th century crook knife, the center is one of my creation and the bottom object is an original curved crook knife blade that blacksmith Peter Ross reproduced for me. Extant examples of curved crook knives are rare in quantity compared to the strait bladed variety. I believe the primary function of curved blades was to carve the interior of bowls. Peter's blade is a "dead-on" copy, however, I had him reverse the curve so that the knife functioned for a left handed carver like myself.
Like ladles, original crook knives display a wide variety of effigy and organic design. I've even seen an original made in the 1930's that has an inlaid photograph of Marlene Dietrich! Considering the long hours one spends carving, I can understand.

Update: The link below will take you to a web site that introduces a new book by authors Russel and Ned Jalbert, titled "Mocotaugan, the Story and the Art of the Crooked Knife" The book is devoted to the history of crook knives. My question was answered; The steel bladed crooked knife does have a prehistoric antecedent. Follow the link to learn more!

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