Category Archive 'Machetes'

01 Apr 2014

Machetes

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East Indian locally-made machete, cartridge brass & elephant ivory handle. Sheath marked: “Across the Equator — Batavia to Java 1925.” My own collection.

Photographer Vanessa Ahlsborn likes collecting and photographing machetes and people using them. She has collected her images at The Machete Project.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a knife is worth a million. …

The collecting started in 2006 on a backpacking trip to Madagascar. I had never collected knives or bought any knives before then. Hell, even the kitchen knives in my apt were a set that an old roommate had left behind when moving out. I was, however, motivated in returning from this trip with a souvenir, or more accurately, an artifact to remind me of my trip, one that was unique. I wasn’t interested in purchasing anymore tchotckes or keepsakes that had been manufactured specifically for tourists. So on a whim, I bought my first knife from a farmer on the outskirts of Fianarantsoa. It was a small hand knife that looked homemade. Both the handle and blade were formed from a worn and pitted metal and crudely fused together. It was dirty and sharp as a spoon. Perfect.

I continued adding to my collection over the next several years and soon my wall was decorated with machetes from Cambodia, Vietnam, Ecuador and Panama. They were all purchased used, having had a history with the previous owner. …

For me, every knife tells a story. It’s a story about the locals, their culture and my travels, all bound up in metal. Large knives and machetes are versatile and extremely durable tools. They are a must for many.

To date I have collected 88 machetes and large knives from 16 countries for the project.


Latin American locally-made machete, hardwood and bone grip with cast brass rooster head pommel, first half 20th century. My own collection.


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