But you will never convince people in any context if you scream insults at them.
By the way, I want to thank Olaf und Heike, from Wildfang Design for whom I worked on the expo and who fetched me for my leisurely stroll too. I just like the two of them. They make great garments out of sensibly produced or even recycled leather all by hand, and they are some of the nicest and most laidback people I have met in the last ten years. The love for what they do talks out of their work and makes it really outstanding. I will never be able to afford so much of a vest by them, but hey, one can still dream...;-). Go visit their website, it´s well worth it.
Of course, I also have a good affinity to the people I have met there: Gabriele, Per-Eric, Gunnar, Ulf, Martin, all of them were simply nice people. Now one can argue, anyone is nice when he tries to sell you something. The culprit is, I have bought so much from them in my life that they did not actively try to sell me more;-). I am just convinced of the quality of their knives and gear. Many of you bushcrafters have used and loved Karesuando knives. So I must not tell you how they perform. They are not the ultimate prybar, but if you want a prybar, get yourself one, and not a knife.
Now they are on a new trail: With a hunter out of RWL 34 and a massive amount of new models with damasteel blades some of their blades tell an altogether new story. Their Galten överlevnadskniv is nothing revolutionary, just a proven workhorse that now comes with a diamond hone and a firesteel.(source: manufacturer´s website)
In Germany they are available via Boker knives. And now we come to a problem. Their prices have gone up in a soaring manner, and while I understand that this is due to a high amount of handwork and high quality, e.g. the hunter or the Galten now compete with knives like the Bush Prowler by Ilkka Seikku, which is custom-made to your specifications or the Fällkniven F1 in some specifications with a three-layer laminate blade. RWL 34 now is a good steel, and I have no doubts the knife will perform as great as every Karesuando knife does, but it is hard to compete with a legend. And then there´s always that ever-ubiquitous Mora Bushcraft with a monstrous value-for money. That Karesuando hunter knife will have a hard time beating the performance of the Mora, which comes at almost half of the price. It would be a different matter with a steel that could be marketed better (don´t get me wrong, Uddeholm 1770 or 12C27 was a steel that did it all. I do not know about that Rokki carbon steel they now use). In short terms, raising the prices while changing two steels at once, and using a steel that is not all the rage is trying to do aggressive US-style marketing without the proper instrument. I would suggest CPM-3V or D2 or Uddeholm Sleipner or a three-layer Cowry-X. Then the price could be even higher, and cater to collectors more than users, for the latter ones did not ask for anything else than what was at hand. As is, I suspect there will be difficulties.
But as is, those Galten models will be what they are: Dead functional workhorses you can trust your life on, refined in a thousand years of Saami culture. This leads me to another aspect:
discriminated in Sweden and Russia, this can but be a good thing. For if you own something typical of a culture and are endeared by it, you are far more open to the other cultural aspects as well. For instance, the knife in the picture above is a functional neck knife, and the scrimshaw is highly decorative and simply beautiful, butt deeply immersed in Saami traditional culture and belief. The drawing shows a traditional Saami drum with a four-fold cardinal partition, which presumeably stands for the four winds. Different character symbols are represented in the drawing as well, which can be read as "the diversity of the universal brotherhood of men is a part of the spiritual and actual domain of the four directions" (my personal interpretation). The Karesuando logo present there is a manufacturer´s logo in the first, but also a representation of the reindeer that play such an important role in the survival of Saami culture while having a cultural and religious aspect also. But above all, it is a beautiful knife. We in Europe have created a mindset of "sic et non", meaning, we cannot but think in dualisms. Either it is just a knife, and then there is nothing to it, or it is an object of superstition. Truckloads of absolutely absurd Athamen give testament to this fact. I daresay that to a Saami a knife has to be a knife. He or she needs it every day, and it is a simple tool that has to get the job done. But it plays an important role in Saami culture as well, and there´s no reason why it can´t be beautiful or symbolic. But it will always remain a trusty tool, and the fact that it IS a trusty and essential tool is reason for its importance in culture.
If you want to learn about Saami culture, feel free to ask Saami people. If they see you mean it actually and don´t want a tourist pantomime, maybe you´ll make some friends. They are humans as any human is, no noble savages, but everyday people. But in my book, our "culture" can learn a lot from them. At least we can learn that we have been wrong for a thousand years, and have done wrong to them for a thousand years. And if you really mean it, do not try to solve their issues with Western culture. Try to solve your own issues and make your own wrong better.
Lars Anderson really changed my perspective on archery, and while I will not get that good, there´s no reason not to try, is it?;-) So off with me to the Bogenzeit booth. I bought three cheapo arrows for practicing my newbie skills, and had a nice chat.
Dannecker Collection booth. They always have a load of knives and quality leather clothing at a bargain on display, and did a most interesting demo on engraving.
Peter Pfaffinger´s absolutely great and culturally relevant knives, but that´s not an issue, for they come at a fraction of a price. SOMEONE with very few tools has made them in a very frugally equipped shop, and SOMEONE makes a sparse profit by telling lies about it. This SOMEONE would fare far better if he´d tell the truth.
knives in Pakistan. Those are his knives below, and he certainly is not a tribal knifemaker anymore. But Pakistani knifemaking hails from this background. Now I have always been controversial about the topic of Pakistani knives, and some of them are of very, very poor quality. I have learned that these knives are not, and my personal impression is that they are up to par with a lot of custom knives in Germany. The culprit is, those guys are good. They can make Damascus knives out of 1095 and 15N20 steels that take a homogenous crystalline structure and a high Rockwell hardness with good flexibility.
It is respect that would solve the problem. We owe them our technology. If you can´t afford a Bowie knife or a Kopis that comes with a price tag that actually suits the needs of the maker and leaves room for his or her creativity, the products would be far better than they are even to date. And do not get me wrong, they are something to be proud of even so. But then kids and adults alike would get a better life, good education and health insurance and no hard work. I cannot speak for this corporation, but in the textile industry exploit of children is commonplace. I am not necessarily against children´s work, for I cannot evaluate the cultural background, for I know too little, and I have an easy say from my position. And I do not criticize this corporation, but our Western mindset.
In short, we tend to exploit everyone around us. When they do not want to be exploited anymore we get a tantrum or start whining. This is childish and disgusting.
The alternative? IF you produce a knife in Pakistan, be proud of it. Tell it like it is, and take the best, not the cheapest, and pay a price that suits the maker. You´d want to be treated that way, too. Invest in social issues as much as you can. Or better yet, make it yourself where you live in a friendly competition, and, if someone offers a better product, learn from him instead of whining and turning yourself into a big disgrace.
Back to business: I talked to Mr. Izwán, and I guess he found me a bit weird;-). Please take note that I will discuss any changes of the article with him and will maybe edit it to suit his needs out of respect. I hope he will provide me with more information about his corporation and how he works. He promised me to provide me with a video for publication. I look forward to learning more about Pakistani knifemaking! As is, Mr. Izwán has corrected a big mistake of mine I made: Assuming Pakistan meant bad quality. And he kindled my interest for the Persian and Achaemenid metalworking culture.
The Hungarian custom knifemakers shared a big booth. It was a good example of how creativity expresses itself and how vibrant energy and high quality can counteract the fight for bargain. Mr. Joszéf Jeneszes was there for the first time and had really interesting goodies on display. This triple-edged woodworking tool was made out of beautiful Damascus. It came in at a justified 330€.
Mr. Joszef Fazekas. We traded a handshake, and I revelled in the sheer lustre of his creations.
Rainer Grösche is a knifemaker from Germany doing mostly most exclusive pen knives with rare and priced materials.
Attila Kertész. I especially loved these half-tang knives.