An artisan work that produces custom made knives, very appreciated for its functionality and beauty, and which is ultimately associated with the scarce. The production is submitted to the orders, the serial work is not known, only certain planning when the orders are numerous (which happens almost all the year).
This unparalleled craftsmanship prevails in this place in the west of the region for several reasons. The main ones are: the abundance of mineral, the water, with enough fall to give power to the blowing machines, the wood that is needed for the fire in the forges or ironworks, and above all an oral tradition that has spared no explanations or feelings related to iron. The fire is also revived by habit. The artisan feeling towards metal, which was developed throughout Asturias in the XNUMXth century for the production of household utensils and work tools, has found in Taramundi a continuity adapted to the times and to the new demands of the market.
The mime with which some villagers are now engaged in this activity of the knives comes, then, from afar: forges, fullers, mechanisms and gadgets of all conditions associated with rainwater and rural areas. The forged was always a derivation of the water currents, and as the water of a river flows today in a constant way in 14 craft workshops and in a small industry in the same capital of the council. Towards 1960 there were some 80 workshops in Taramundi. Today the visitor can see the work of the ferreiros or manufacturers of knives and knives in Abraído, Aguillón, Bres, Cabaniñas, Esquíos, Llan, Loutima, Mousende, Nogueira, Rio del Louro, Vega de Llan and Vilanova. In the House of Culture of Taramundi you can also contemplate a permanent exhibition of knives.
Counterfeits and fraud of this artisan product is common. It is easy to acquire a suspected Taramundi razor, but it is less easy than being a truly artisan. So the best thing is to approach this municipality and visit one of its workshops on the spot. In this way we will get to know a way of life and in passing the signs of authenticity of the product. Then we can buy with enough tracks.
We can also visit the Taramundi Cutlery Museum in the village of Pardiñas, three 3 kilometers from the capital of the council. In addition to the didactic exhibition on the trade, this museum is known for housing a giant razor at the entrance, the largest in the world, measuring 7,20 meters in length and weighing 1.500 kg.
How do they make a Taramundi knife?
A careful and deliberate work, masterly, in search of a perfect razor, unique and different from the rest. The artisans of this small iron industry say that it takes no less than five years for an apprenticeship as God intended. In reality, the skill and mettle that this craft requires cannot take less time, we are aware of this when contemplating their work. The craftsman's hands are made of equal patience and agility, adapt their movements to the precise requirements of each stage.
The traditional manufacturing process requires knowledge of several trades: blacksmith, carver and carpenter. The phases are multidisciplinary, and the razor or knife is the fruit of a guild experienced in various tasks. It is necessary to a stove to heat the iron. There the metal is put on a slow fire, the red forging begins. With hammer and mallet the profile of the blade is looked for. The subsequent technique of hand sharpening the pieces is unique in Spain. With a soft temper and a mallet it sharpens without problem in expert hands. Both the stainless steel, special for the cut, and the wood for the handle were already waiting in the workshop. A full razor takes 3 hours. Precisely the carving of the handle, based on geometric color drawings and the subsequent varnishing of the handle with resin, is what takes the longest; the final finish of the knife includes polishing the blade, cleaning the interior and fixing the identity marks of the house among other matters. Small indicative notches in handle and ring reveal the artisan work. And it is that the craft production also involves a certain specialization: handles, leaves and rings are arranged separately before the final assembly with subtle signals that differentiate the pairs.
Types of Taramundi knives
In the workshops, knife specialization is observed in various types of knives and knives: pruning knife (sickle-shaped), grafting knife (the best for making grafts in agricultural work), mountain knives, ham knife, table knife, knife for cutting mushrooms (with a specific shape for this task and a brush attached to the handle to clean what is collected). They are also The pulpeira scissors are famous, with great acceptance in Galicia, as they are the most appropriate for chopping octopus and fish.
Photo report by Alex Badía
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com