Knives and daggers have long been used for defense, assault and revenge, and they were the primary weapons and tools during the pre-historic era. Knives were designed for table use probably in the past century. It is said that during the Middle age, Europeans had to carry knives for table use, as hosts would not provide cutlery for a guest.
Kukri, a Nepalese knife, is known to be the world’s oldest knife, with its blade shape relating to the classic Kopis sword of the Greeks. Troops of Alexander are likely to have carried their cavalry sword or Machira during their invasion of India in the fourth century BC, inspiring the Kukri design. Its craftsmanship resembles the old Japanese sword. In Mesoamerica, the obsidian core, known as knife stone, was used to make knives even before the Spanish conquest. Over the centuries, knives evolved to gain acceptance on dining tables, apart from other household utilities. With the advent of forks, table knives became wider with rounded edges, and therefore safer. The round-tipped knives of Europe created a lasting impact on the American dining etiquette.
Archaic Aztec knives
The Aztecs settled on the Lake Texoco marshes, the present day Mexico City, after their hummingbird god guided them to a place where an eagle sat on a cactus clutching a snake in its beak, as stated in legends. They believed that their god Huitzilpochtli required human sacrifices and carried out ‘Flower Wars’ to satisfy their hungry god. Another legend says that they believed in providing a constant supply of blood for the sun, in order to continue its journey across the sky. They accomplished their purpose using a special knife consisting of a mosaic handle and depicting an Eagle Warrior, regarded among the proudest of their fighters.
Mexican Bowie knife
Rezin Pleasant Bowie, an Arkansas estate owner created a large knife in his quest for a better weapon after he was attacked by a bull in the year 1827. He gave a similar knife to his brother James, who used it later when took part in the ‘sandbar fight’ on the Mississippi River. Though he was stabbed, he managed to disembowel one of the assailants, hurt another and chase a third one, using his brother’s knife. The knife had a clipped point and a longer blade that was sharpened on either side. In 1830, during the revolt against the Mexican rule, he was in his sick bed, but defended himself with his famous knife before he was killed. This knife is the basis for the traditional Bowie knife, which is popular today.
Just like the rituals and artifacts that have been passed down since the Aztec times, Mexican antique knives depict the transformation of Mexico over the centuries.