When a knife collector has a large enough collection of custom knives and has an idea about the production and history of blades, he becomes interested in traditional and national knives. The Mongolian knife is considered to be quite a rare and little-known type of knife in the US and Europe. These knives have an ancient tradition and honorably occupy a special place in museum expositions or private collections. Especially for our collection of knives, we were able to find a knife maker who was happy to make several Mongolian knives for us.
In this article, we will be acquainted with the decorations of the Mongols. Although the Mongols live as nomadic pastoralists, they have inherited jewelry craftsmanship from their ancestors known for their exquisite and deep forms.
The early Mongolian knife was a simple tool, without undue decoration. For its manufacture, craftsmen have long been able to use steel, silver, sandalwood and mahogany, bone, skin and corals. The handle of the knife and the scabbard are traditionally decorated with carving and embossing, chasing and engraving, some have gemstones. These ornaments are not only picturesque, but also unique in that they contain a variety of ornaments and symbols associated with the symbolism and worship of the blacksmith and all Mongolians.
The knife is worn on the belt, which is an indispensable accessory and decoration for a man.
It is about the Mongolian traditional knife (khet khutga) – this is a real work of art and a very expensive thing.
A khet khutga consists of a knife, a knife sheath, chopsticks, a chain, a hook, a forged set for kindling a fire (khet). There is an opinion that chopsticks came from China, after close contact with the Han people in the Mongol era. Chopsticks firmly entered the life of nomads, so scabbards began to be made with special cylindrical recesses. Chopsticks slide next to the knife. The khet knife is made of stainless or Damascus steel and is usually decorated with iron or silver designs such as nets, spirals, butterflies, fish, fire, swastikas, dragons and spikes. The handle of the traditional Mongolian knife is mainly made of wood, cork and bone.
Khet is a hand-forged traditional fire starter kit that is easy to carry around, usually can be hanged from sash of deel with knife. The khet has a small pocket with flint stone and cotton fabric. It is also adorned with patterns of iron, silver and pearls. The knife is tied to his back with a sash and hung at the entrance to the yurt. There are many legends about men’s jewelry.
Mongolian folklore attributes the meaning of a talisman (knife) from all evil. There are legends about the origin of the custom to carry a knife and other metal objects. Wearing a khet khutga has its own culture and besides being practical, there are some taboos.
– For example, while holding a knife, you cannot point the tip of the knife at the sun, moon, stars, people, heaven and earth. When passing it to others, the tip of the knife is held towards itself to show that there is no malice in this.
– The knife is worn on a belt with a chain; when entering the yurt, the knife is taken under the armpit.
According to the customs of the Mongols, the knife is associated with fire named Tuhay and is worn on the right side of the belt. Since in Mongolian culture the human soul lives on the belt, wearing a knife (fire) on the belt can bring light and protect the wearer.
Coming to visit, the nomad, as a sign of peaceful intentions, pulled out a knife from his belt and left it hanging on a chain. The knife hung almost at the level of the knees, and therefore it was very difficult to grab it suddenly for a treacherous attack. The pendant itself could serve as a protective amulet, for example, sometimes it was made in the form of a metal mirror, designed to drive away the energy of evil people. Although more often, she played the role of just decoration.
The geometry of the blade is dictated by the conditions of nomadic life, the main part of which was the slaughter of cattle and butchering of carcasses. Accordingly, with all the versatility, convenience was primarily required for these purposes. Therefore, the blade of the Mongolian knife is narrow, long and straight. With such a knife, it is convenient to slaughter cattle in the old manner of nomads – unexpectedly sharply driving the blade through a special bottleneck at the base of the skull. A previously calmed animal does not have time to be frightened, and the hormones of fear do not spoil the meat. In addition, a narrow, straight blade is best for cutting through joints without being stuck in tendons.
Another feature is the method of attachment to the belt: the scabbard was attached to it not directly, but through a special pendant buckle with a chain. The knife itself was worn tucked into a belt; a pendant with a chain protected it from accidental loss.
The blade of the knife is steel in length from 25 to 45 cm, most often smooth and its expressiveness is achieved by a strict cut of the blade. Some unique examples of knives have engraved knurled blades, soldered with copper or brass.
The handle and scabbard are decorated with polished silver plates and rings, ornamented and chased.
It can be assumed that the belt loops are fabric, but it is embossed leather.
Despite the underlined stinginess of artistic means, the knife and scabbard are distinguished by elegance, lightness and expressiveness of the silhouette. The motifs of Mongolian myths and legends are used in the decor of knives and scabbards – with amazing interlacing and a combination of ancient ornaments and masks of mythical monsters, heads of birds of prey, etc. The knife is often decorated according to the owner’s social status.
If you are interested in buying a Mongolian knife, then you should visit Noblie – one of the largest custom knife store. We will help you select and offer you some traditional Mongolian knives from our collection of custom knives and deliver your order to your address. Go to the custom knife store page.