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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Machete Use on Guam

The only traditional Chamorro blacksmith currently on Guam, Tun Jack Lujan, forges a machete with his mattiyu (hammer) on the anvil. Photo © Nicole Santos

A report on the use of the machete in Guam from Oscar King Davis's Our Conquests in the Pacific (1898 - 1899):
One of the things we saw in the village was a forge and blacksmith shop where a sturdy Chamorro was hammering out machetes from a band of steel. The blades were short, broad and heavy. A hard wood like lignum-vitae was used for the handles, which were fastened to the hafts of the knife blades by big copper rivets. These are carried in soft leather sheaths swung from leather belts by cords made of the always useful cocoanut palm leaf. This cord is soft and very pliable, and tough and strong. Cocoanut palm leaf should make very serviceable rope .... They are a simple, hospitable people, these Chamorros. They sold their machetes to the soldiers, who wanted them as curiosities, for a song, and getting more is mighty difficult. They use the machete for everything, -- all the pursuits of peace and war. In peace they can make a shift to do without machetes, but, in their small rows it is different, as one old woman said when her husband parted with his big knife for two silver dollars: "Not can fight, with money."

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