Gaucho Knives

A gaucho (Spanish: lˈɡautʃo]) or gaúcho (Portuguese: [ɡaˈuʃo]) is a skilled horseman, reputed to be brave and unruly. The gaucho is a national symbol in both Argentina and Uruguay. Gauchos became greatly admired and renowned in legends, folklore and literature and became an important part of their regional cultural tradition. Beginning late in the 19th century, after the heyday of the gauchos, they were celebrated by South American writers.

An essential attribute of a gaucho was that he was a skilled horseman. Without a horse the gaucho felt himself unmanned. A gaucho could ride as soon as he could walk. The naturalist William Henry Hudson (who was born on the pampas of Buenos Aires province) recorded that the gauchos of his childhood used to say, a man without a horse was a man without legs

Like the North American cowboys, as discussed in Richard W. Slatta, Cowboys of the Americas, gauchos were generally reputed to be strong, honest, silent types, but proud and capable of violence when provoked. The gaucho tendency to violence over petty matters is also recognized as a typical trait. Gauchos’ use of the famous “facón” (large knife generally tucked into the rear of the gaucho sash) is legendary, often associated with considerable bloodletting. Historically, the facón was typically the only eating instrument that a gaucho carried.


The facón is both a fighting knife and a utility knife, and is widely used in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.  The knife is typically worn at the back and tucked into the gaucho’s belt to allow it to be quickly drawn with the right hand. As a fighting knife, the facón is the main article of combat in an indigenous style of knife fighting known as escrima criolla (“Creole fencing”) When used in this context, one hand holds the knife, and a poncho or coat is wrapped about the opposite arm to absorb cuts and stabs in a manner reminiscent of traditional Andalusian knife fighting styles using the long-bladed Spanish clasp knife or navaja sevillana.

As Charles Darwin said of the distinctive men who wore and used the facón, “Many quarrels arose, which from the general manner of fighting with the knife often proved fatal.




Source: Wikipedia