Swords into ploughshares (and vice versa)

With all the horror of the Boston bombings, and of the way whoever did it turned a useful cooking pot (the pressure cooker) into a murderous weapon, I thought I’d mention something altogether opposite, and that is the remarkable knives made on the Taiwanese islands of Kinmen.

The Kinmen (also known as Jinmen and Quemoy) islands lie barely a couple of kilometres off the coast of Fujian Province, but have been under Taiwanese administration since the end of the Chinese civil war. In the 1950s, during the First and Second Taiwan Strait Crises, they were bombarded by Mainland forces, and the islands were littered with hundreds of thousands of artillery shells. Local artisans gathered up the shells, and transformed them into knives, which have become a famous local product.

This is one of the Kinmen knives I bought in Taipei last May. It’s a lovely knife, pleasingly weighted, and the shopkeeper who sold it to me said that the military-grade steel makes it particularly durable. Bombs into kitchen knives; destruction into creativity, nourishment, life and pleasure.

7 Responses to “Swords into ploughshares (and vice versa)”

  1. Jill Campbell

    Having recently bought your ‘Every Grain of Rice’ Sichuan has been on my mind a lot lately even before the recent earthquake. I’ve been following reports on the Beeb website, but I wonder if you have any more up-to-date info or recommended websites? Can you recommend any organisations to send donations to? Loving reading and cooking the EGoR recipes!

  2. Chee

    I hope they sell them in the states as I would love to own one. How nice something that destroys is turned into something useful. I particularly like the idea of it being a very durable knife.

  3. David Ockey

    I was just in Taiwan myself a month ago. I had the chance to buy one, but didn’t! Dang! It felt like a really great kitchen knife. Let us know how it works out! I may have to order one online.

  4. Kim

    I am searching them since days in Taipei…
    Where can I find those ??

    Thanks!

  5. Fuchsia

    You can buy them in the official arts and crafts store in Taipei (I’ve forgotten the name) – but I don’t think there is anyone stocking them in London!

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