Kinmen knife

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Cleaver set with sharpener made from artillery shell remains
Close up of cleaver set with Kinmen engraving

The Kinmen knife (Chinese: 金門菜刀; pinyin: Jīnmén Càidāo) is a knife exclusively made in Kinmen County in Fujian Province, Republic of China. The knives were once made from the remains of artillery shells fired by the U.S. and Allied forces in World War II, and by mainland China between 1958 and 1978.

During the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of the People's Republic of China fired around 450,000 shells at the Kinmen islands in its conflict against the Republic of China which controls the islands. The shells have become a resource of steel for the local economy. Since the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, Kinmen has become famous for its production of cleavers made from PRC artillery shells. Many of the shells were propaganda shells, with the high-explosive removed and stuffed with leaflets, thus impacting on the island intact, rather than exploding into many tiny fragments. A blacksmith in Kinmen generally produces 60 cleavers from one artillery shell and tourists often purchase Kinmen knives as souvenirs together with other local products.

During his visit to Kinmen on 23–24 May 2015, Head of Taiwan Affairs Office Zhang Zhijun received a Kinmen knife as a gift made from the early days PLA shells. This was a gesture symbolizing the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have buried the hatchet left from Chinese Civil War and are working towards mutual peace.[1]

A blacksmith at Maestro Wu demonstrates the making of an artillery shell knife.


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