Pichok or pchak - the Uzbek national handmade knife - from time immemorial meant more than just a tool or a combat weapon. This is the attribute of the male costume, a powerful amulet, and participant in many rites and sacraments. That's why the great skill of creating singing, richly decorated blades has been preserved on the territory of Uzbekistan.
A distinctive feature of the Uzbek knives is the brand (tamga). As a rule, the main elements in the tamga are the crescent moon - the symbol of faith, the stars and the symbol of cotton. Previously, it was believed that the number of stars in the mark indicated the number of children of the master or his students. In our time, the stars are, more likely, a tribute to tradition. On modern blades in the mark you can find a stylistic image of anything, everything that is dear to the master.
Types of Uzbek knives
There are many species of Uzbek pichoks. They are classified according to their purpose, on the shape of the blade, the type of handle, the size, thickness, and even the decor. The most popular knives are the osh-pichoks (table knives) and the kassob-pichoks (meat knives). Both types of pichoks have a characteristic wide blade with a slightly curved or straight tip. Blade with a curved end is called kayik, which means "boat". A blade with an even edge is called tugri-pichok, in translation - a "straight knife". Osh-pichoks are made of two different sizes, corresponding to our modern concepts of medium and small kitchen knife.
Kasob-pichok in form differs little from osh-pichok, but its magnitude is shocking even the imaginary of experts of cold weapons. Such an Uzbek knife, massive, with a thick boot and a large handle, easily cuts almost everything.
For a gift or a collection, arapcha-pichok (literally "Arabic knife") is most suitable. It is light and inexpressibly elegant. It has a thin curved blade to the edge and a marvelous beauty hilt of bone or horn. In the distant past, the arapcha-pichok was a formidable weapon. Today, having lost its military mission, in Uzbekistan this knife became a welcome masculine gift, adornment and amulet.
A lot of popular old types of knives still come from the anvils of Uzbek pichokchi (a master who creates knives). Here is the Chust-pichok - a wide, large knife, which the tip of the blade is boldly bent upward, and the large cone-shaped handle is inclined downwards; the bola-pichok (children's knife) - a tiny knife, a traditional gift for a little boy; the threatening twisted Afgani-pichok (Afghan knife) and a powerful, with a deep notch in the upper part of the blade, the Kazakh-pichok. There are dozens and dozens of species.
The first mention of the pichok dates back to the 14th-15th century. It was then that Uzbek knives began their journey around the world first as a curiosity, and later as a universal household tool. The production of blades of this Uzbek knife is mainly made of carbon steel. In the old days, iron from India or broken weapons was used. Later, in the XX century, in the course went valves, springs from cars and other parts. Currently, the pichoks are forged from high-carbon tool steels or steels for making ball bearings.
Metal and features of sharpening
Uzbek masters-pichokchi use for the creation of knives two types of metal, conventionally called "spring steel" and "bearing steel". The first one is rigid, ringing, sparkling. The second one is flexible, singing, matte. It should be understood that both are not "stainless steel", therefore, they are prone to corrosion.
So why to buy knives that rust? Well, firstly, we noted that the Uzbek pchak is much more than just a knife. And secondly, the Uzbek knives have the highest coefficient of sharpening. This means that it is impossible to pinch any stainless steel to the sharpness that pichok gives.
That is why the experts of Uzbek knives never sharpen them. They only dress them. Before each use of a knife a man should make 8-10 movements on a special river stone or on the bottom of a porcelain bowl. And the knife restores the highest sharpness.
Refer to the Uzbek pichok with a piety
The Uzbek handmade pichok requires special handling rules. To prevent the formation of rust, it should be kept dry and stored in vertical wooden stands. An important condition for the knife's life is its constant work. The more you use pichok, the longer it will keep its appearance. One should rub the knife with fat or oil.
How to choose?
If you are ready to use an Uzbek knife at home, then you should choose the osh-pichok. Choosing from a dozen of the same knives, take each one in the hand. A knife that best fits your needs will certainly resonate with the heat of the handle. It will be very warm in a moment. There is no mysticism here. Just the handle is very tightly laid into your hand. Such a close contact will ensure you comfortable work with the Uzbek knife.
If you take a knife for a gift, then give preference to the Arabic-pichok. It is marvelously elegant and beautiful. At the same time it is very functional.
In case you need a knife for hiking, fishing or hunting, pay attention to thick penknives, such as Kazakh-pichok, Chust-pichok or pichoks with a blade of "tolbargi" (willow leaf).
There are many counters with Uzbek handmade knives at any large bazaar of, visited by tourists during Uzbekistan tour packages. There are a lot of excellent pichoks on these sparkling trays. But the optimal option for buying are numerous exhibitions of artisans, which today are held throughout Uzbekistan. Here is a rich choice, good prices, and the master, selling you a knife, is interested in that you are not disappointed in the purchase.
Today in Uzbekistan hundreds of masters of national handmade knives are working. The craft is still respected, and the products are popular. The master of Shakhrikhan, Andijan, Chust, Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent are especially famous for their pichoks. Be sure to try your hand at choosing the Uzbek pichok. Enjoy the beauty, power and grace of these magnificent products, which have survived to our days from the depths of centuries. Uzbek pichok is an animated, silent protector and amulet.