Thursday, May 03, 2007

Puukkojunkkari ~ Mika Heikkilä Puukko Knives


Puukkojunkkari, actually a name for 19th century thugs in South Ostrobothnia, is a family business in Finland's "puukko making capitol", Kauhava. The owner, Mika Heikkilä, takes a great pride of their name and honor Ostrobothnia's long history of knife making.

The Finnish sheath-knife and its use were traditionally associated with the customs of communities. It became almost a national symbol during the Second World War, when the knife industry flourished. The Härmä (South Ostrobothnian) puukko knife is an important element of local history. The Härmä knife was associated with the history of the "häjyt" or "puukkojunkkarit" (troublemakers) of Härmä, knife fights and the heyday of knife-bearing thugs around the middle of the 19th century.

During its history, the Härmä knife has evolved from a utility knife to a gift item and collectible. Its reputation has partly been maintained by the symbolic values attached to it. The Härmä knife was once regarded as the weapon of the häjyt, but also as a symbol of the home region and the spirit of South Ostrobothnia. Today It is the hunting and carving knife of choice for many Finns in this historic area. South Ostrobothnians are still known of their self-motivation, pride and self-determination along with their craftsmanship and Mika Heikkilä doesn't make an exception of that!

The top picture has Mika Heikkilä's Wolf Leuku. Leuku is a Finnish word for a knife used mostly by Lapland (Northern Finland) people, Sámi. It is a very versatile knife, developed from the needs of the reindeer herder-lifestyle of the Sámi people. They are all-purpose knives rather than woodworking knives. The handles are typical of those used in the far North. They provide a solid grip for the draw strokes that are favored where the hands are often gloved, or stiff with cold. The wide flat pommel allows the use of the second hand to apply force to the point. The sheaths take almost the entire handle, which is a reflection of how serious a lost leuku can be in the wilderness.


The bottom picture is Heikkilä's unique style Carving Knife. With this puukko knife one can work very close to the bottom of the blade which gives more force to work even with harder woods.