Thursday, December 08, 2011

Ulu Alaskan knife “Women’s Knife”

One of the few keepsakes I brought back from Alaska is this Ulu knife. I am writing about it now because it was a bit expensive and I said it would be my Christmas present.

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Translated, Ulu is Women’s knife.  It is traditionally used by women for everything from skinning animals to cutting hair.  Among the native Alaskans these knives are given as a wedding gift and often handed down generations. 

There are Ulu knives available in almost every store in Alaska.  Our friend from the museum in Soldotna grew up in Alaska so she was our go-to advisor on all things Alaskan.  She said, first and foremost, make sure the Ulu we decide to purchase is made in Alaska, not China. 

So, it became a quest to find a Ulu.  The Francis Rose Gift Shop in Ninilchik (on the Kenai Peninsula) had several hand made Ulu knives for sale.  I especially fell in love with this one.  I really liked the way it fit in my hand.  Francis Rose said if it felt well in my hand, it was made to be mine. The base and handle are petrified bones found above the arctic circle.  The handmade blade is still as sharp as the day I purchased it. 

This knife gets used almost every day.  I have not shed one tear cutting onions with it.  And, the rocking motion works very well when chopping vegetables or cutting meat. 

We found less expensive Ulu knives that were made at the Ulu factory in Anchorage.  We purchased several for gifts,  but we decided on this handmade by a native artisan for me.   I couldn’t have a better Christmas present.