Slate knives

During the excavation of a stone age dwelling near Vuollerim, here in Swedish Lapland two different examples of slate knives were found.

The first is this crescent shaped knife


which is called an “Ulu” by various indigenous people living around the Arctic Circle


An ulu  (translated means “woman’s knife”) is an all-purpose knife traditionally used by cultures around the Arctic Circle including; Inuit, Yup’ik and Aleut women. It is utilised in applications as diverse as skinning and cleaning animals, cutting a child’s hair and cutting food.

This particular knife has a blade made of locally sourced slate, which has been inserted in to a piece of wood.  The blade is held in place using ”Resin glue” – Resin from Pine or Spruce trees is gathered, heated and then mixed with crushed charcoal to form a primitive glue which was very much used by native people around the Arctic Circle at that time (and still is).

The second knife is a little more like knives we use today.  Unfortunately we do not have a copy of this knife, so I was asked to make one, based on drawings and text.


I’m very pleased with the end result.  The original was bound with Moose hide, but as I did not have any, I used Reindeer leather.


One thought on “Slate knives

  1. Amazing. I never thought much about the Ulu, but now i know its origins can be found as far away as Scandinavia.. I have one here at the house I use daily and its very useful. Here in Alaska though you’d think they are indigenous only to Alaska! (sales propaganda!)

    Thank you kindly for this informative post

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