The Cretan Knife

The necessary accessory for the traditional garb for men was the knife – which even today is the inseparable companion for the mountain dweller.

In the past, knife-making was big business – in the larger cities whole neighbourhoods were given over to their manufacture.

Cretan tradition. The Cretan Knife

At Chania, close to the Venetian harbour there still lives on today a small locality - ‘Knife Street’ where traditional workshops survive, making and selling the (in)famous Cretan knives.

This tool-cum-weapon is made of a blade of steel, with a handle of animal horn of some sort. The sheath was usually of wood, simple or covered in leather. For formal occasions, these were made of silver (foukaria), and ornamented with flowers, birds, dragons and the like. 

Typically the handle of a Greek knife ends in a V; and the top of the sheath carries a cross on it, a distinguishing feature between them and the Turkish ones.

In many cases the blade was inscribed with a mantinada. The knife played the role of male accessory, male jewellery and finery, indicating the economic status of its owner.

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