Our Alaska knife artisan resurrects the 4000-year-old Arctic tradition of handcrafting curved-blade ulu knives. Originally for cutting blocks of ice or preparing animal skins, this contemporary version with stainless steel blade is a versatile tool in the kitchen, or a striking display piece.
The history behind the creation of ulu knives is quite a beautiful one. It has been given the nickname of “woman’s knife” because of the way in which it was first made. All those millennia ago in Antarctica, the work of women largely consisted of producing warm, tailored skin clothing. Women of the Old Bering Sea used ulus of stone blades in order to cut and scrape in their work.
This special knife has played an important role in the survival of Arctic peoples, as history tells us. They originally were primarily made of wood, ivory, bone, or caribou antler, such as this one. Metal blades, preferably old saw blades, became a favorite because of the tough steel they were made of, making it harder for them to dull quickly. It was a common tradition for the knives to be given as a wedding gift for women, having been made by their grooms, and then they would be passed down through generations within the family.
(This article was adapted from http://naturalhistory.si.edu/arctic/features/croads/ekven7.html).
Our ulu artisan in particular has a unique history as to how he came about to create these special knives. Je experienced a long, dangerous, and tragic journey from his homeland of Cambodia to his current home in Juneau, Alaska after fleeing from his country as a child. This experience was very moving for him and inspired his creative spirit to thrive. He feels thankful to live in a home like Alaska and therefore enjoys creating art that is so deeply rooted in the culture’s history.
Discover an ulu knife for yourself here, with this Handcrafted Caribou Horn Ulu Knife.