The Sami knife (Sami: Stuorraniibi = “big knife”, Finnish: Lapinleuku), is a large knife traditionally used by the Sami people.
The knife has a long, wide, and strong blade that is suited for light chopping tasks such as delimbing, cutting small trees for camp fire, shelter poles, brush clearing, bone breaking and butchering tasks. The larger knives (8″ models) are sometimes used as a substitute for an axe to chop wood and split small amounts of firewood.
The handle is made from birch for better grip when used in cold and snowy conditions. This also provides good control over the blade, particularly when using draw strokes, which are preferred when handling the knife with gloves, or while the hands are numb. The tang runs through the handle which traditionally has no crossguard. We do have some models with a crossguard as these are more popular these days.
Traditional material for the sheath is reindeer leather.
The blade’s edge often has a Scandinavian (or Scandi) grind, i.e. a single flat bevel. The blade is strong enough to split (reindeer) bones, and tempered to sustain low temperatures.
The Sami people typically use two knives; the smaller one can be called a buiku, puukko or unna niibaš ( “small knife” ), while the larger knife is called stuorra niibi ( “big knife” ). An even larger version known as a Väkipuukko is similar to a Seax.
The Strømeng family’s ancestors brought the art of knife making to Karasjok in the 18th century. Since then, this craft has carried on from generation to generation within the family. Today, knife-maker Strømeng is one of just a few craftsmen who still produce knives for the Sami people.
The magical powers of the knife
The same knife is propably one of the most practical outdoor equipment ever made. But the same knife also has its own “magical power”. From the old days, and in sami folkmedicin, the knife has a magical healing power which was used to stop blood, take away pain etc.