Machete

Machete

Overview
The machete is a large cleaver
Cleaver (knife)
A cleaver is a large knife that varies in its shape but usually resembles a rectangular-bladed hatchet. It is used mostly for hacking through bones as a kitchen knife or butcher knife, and can also be used for crushing via its broad side, typically garlic....

-like cutting tool. The blade is typically 32.5 to 60 cm (12.8 to 23.6 in) long and usually under 3 millimetre (0.118110236220472 in) thick. In the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, an equivalent term is matchet, though it is less commonly known. In the English-speaking Caribbean such as Jamaica, Grenada and in Trinidad and Tobago, the term "cutlass
Cutlass
A cutlass is a short, broad sabre or slashing sword, with a straight or slightly curved blade sharpened on the cutting edge, and a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or basket shaped guard...

" is used for these agricultural tools.

In various tropical and subtropical countries, the machete is frequently used to cut through rain forest undergrowth and for agricultural purposes (e.g.
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Encyclopedia
The machete is a large cleaver
Cleaver (knife)
A cleaver is a large knife that varies in its shape but usually resembles a rectangular-bladed hatchet. It is used mostly for hacking through bones as a kitchen knife or butcher knife, and can also be used for crushing via its broad side, typically garlic....

-like cutting tool. The blade is typically 32.5 to 60 cm (12.8 to 23.6 in) long and usually under 3 millimetre (0.118110236220472 in) thick. In the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, an equivalent term is matchet, though it is less commonly known. In the English-speaking Caribbean such as Jamaica, Grenada and in Trinidad and Tobago, the term "cutlass
Cutlass
A cutlass is a short, broad sabre or slashing sword, with a straight or slightly curved blade sharpened on the cutting edge, and a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or basket shaped guard...

" is used for these agricultural tools.

Uses


In various tropical and subtropical countries, the machete is frequently used to cut through rain forest undergrowth and for agricultural purposes (e.g. cutting sugar cane). Besides this, in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 a common use is for such household tasks as cutting large foodstuffs into pieces—much as a cleaver
Cleaver
-Implement or device:*Cleaver is a type of large knife*Cleaver is a type of prehistoric stone tool*Cleaver is a propeller design, esp...

 is used—or to perform crude cutting tasks such as making simple wooden handles for other tools. It is also common to see people using machetes for other jobs such as splitting open coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

s, working the lawns, clearing brush. Because the machete is common in many tropical countries, it is often the weapon of choice for uprising
Uprising
-In music:* Uprising * Uprising , album by Concord Dawn* Uprising , album by Entombed* Uprising , album by Universal Poplab...

s. For example the Boricua Popular Army
Boricua Popular Army
The Boricua Popular/People's Army — or Ejército Popular Boricua in Spanish — is a clandestine organization based on the island of Puerto Rico, with cells in the United States. They campaign for and support the independence of Puerto Rico from what they characterize as United States colonial rule...

 are unofficially called Macheteros because the machete wielding laborers of sugar cane fields of past Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

.

A machete may also be classified as a sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

, because it can be used like one.
Many of the killings in the Rwandan Genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

 were performed with machetes, and were the primary weapon used by the Interahamwe
Interahamwe
The Interahamwe is a Hutu paramilitary organization. The militia enjoyed the backing of the Hutu-led government leading up to, during, and after the Rwandan Genocide. Since the genocide, they have been forced out of Rwanda, and have sought asylum in Congo...

 militias there. Machetes were also the distinctive tool/weapon of the Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

an Tonton Macoute
Tonton Macoute
Tonton Macoutes was a Haitian paramilitary force created in 1959 by President François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier. In 1970, the militia was officially renamed the Milice de Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale .Haitians called this force the “Tonton Macoutes,” after the Haitian Creole mythological...

.

In 1762, the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 invaded Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 in the Battle of Havana, and peasant guerrillas led by Pepe Antonio, a Guanabacoa councilman, used machetes in the defense of the city. The machete was also the most iconic weapon during the independence wars in that country (1868–1898), although it saw limited battlefield use. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes del Castillo was a Cuban planter who freed his slaves and made the declaration of Cuban independence in 1868 which started the Ten Years' War...

, owner of the sugar refinery
Sugar refinery
A sugar refinery is a factory which refines raw sugar.Many cane sugar mills produce raw sugar, i.e. sugar with more colour and therefore more impurities than the white sugar which is normally consumed in households and used as an ingredient in soft drinks, cookies and so forth...

 La Demajagua near Manzanillo
Manzanillo, Cuba
Manzanillo is a municipality and city in the Granma Province of Cuba.It is a port city in the Granma Province in eastern Cuba on the Gulf of Guacanayabo, near the delta of the Cauto River...

, freed his slaves on 10 October 1868. Armed with machetes, he proceeded to lead them in revolt against the Spanish government. The first cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 charge using machetes as the primary weapon was carried out on 4 November 1868 by Máximo Gómez
Máximo Gómez
Máximo Gómez y Báez was a Major General in the Ten Years' War and Cuba's military commander in that country's War of Independence ....

, a sergeant born in the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, who later became the General in Chief of the Cuban army.

The machete was (and still is) a common side arm
Side arm
A side arm is a weapon, usually a pistol but can be a dagger, as used in pre-modern times, which is worn on the body in a holster to permit immediate access and use. A side arm is typically required equipment for military personnel and sometimes carried by law enforcement personnel...

 and tool for many ethnic groups in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. Machetes in this role are referenced in Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe
Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe popularly known as Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic...

's Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apartis a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African...

.

Some tropical countries have a name for the blow of a machete; the Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 machetazo is sometimes used in English.

In the British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands, often called the British Virgin Islands , is a British overseas territory and overseas territory of the European Union, located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands make up part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, the remaining islands constituting the U.S...

, Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis
The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis , located in the Leeward Islands, is a federal two-island nation in the West Indies. It is the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, in both area and population....

, Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

, and Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

, the word planass means to hit someone with the flat of the blade of a machete or cutlass. To strike with the sharpened edge is to "chop". Throughout the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, the term 'cutlass' refers to a laborers' cutting tool.

The Brazilian Army
Brazilian Army
The Brazilian Army is the land arm of the Brazilian Military. The Brazilian Army has fought in several international conflicts, mostly in South America and during the 19th century, such as the Brazilian War of Independence , Argentina-Brazil War , War of the Farrapos , Platine War , Uruguayan War ...

's Instruction Center on Jungle Warfare developed a machete with a blade 10 inches (25.4 cm) in length and a very pronounced clip point. This machete is issued with a 5-inch Bowie knife
Bowie knife
A Bowie knife is a pattern of fixed-blade fighting knife first popularized by Colonel James "Jim" Bowie in the early 19th Century. Since the first incarnation was created by James Black, the Bowie knife has come to incorporate several recognizable and characteristic design features, although its...

 and a sharpening stone
Sharpening stone
Sharpening stones, water stones or whetstones are used to grind and hone the edges of steel tools and implements. Examples of items that may be sharpened with a sharpening stone include scissors, scythes, knives, razors and tools such as chisels, hand scrapers and plane blades...

 in the scabbard; collectively called a "jungle kit" (Conjunto de Selva in Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

), it is manufactured by Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil (IMBEL
IMBEL
IMBEL is an acronym for Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil a Brazilian state company, founded in 1975 as a quango of the Ministry of Defence....

).

International variations


The panga or tapanga is a variant used in East
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

 and southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

. This name may be of Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 etymology; not to be confused with the Panga fish. The panga blade broadens on the backside and has a length of 16 to 18 in (40.6 to 45.7 cm). The upper inclined portion of the blade may be sharpened.

This tool has been used as a weapon: in the Rwandan Genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

; in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 particularly in the 1980s and early 1990s when the former province of Natal
Natal Province
Natal, meaning "Christmas" in Portuguese, was a province of South Africa from 1910 until 1994. Its capital was Pietermaritzburg. The Natal Province included the bantustan of KwaZulu...

 was wracked by conflict between the African National Congress
African National Congress
The African National Congress is South Africa's governing Africanist political party, supported by its tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party , since the establishment of non-racial democracy in April 1994. It defines itself as a...

 and the Zulu-nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party
Inkatha Freedom Party
The Inkatha Freedom Party is a political party in South Africa. Since its founding, it has been led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi. It is currently the fourth largest party in the National Assembly of South Africa.-History:...

.


In the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, the bolo
Bolo knife
A bolo is a large cutting tool of Filipino origin similar to the machete, used particularly in the jungles of Indonesia, the Philippines, and in the sugar fields of Cuba...

is a very similar tool, but with the blade swelling just before the tip to make the knife even more efficient for chopping. Variations include the longer and more pointed iták intended for combat, and was also used during the Philippine Revolution
Philippine Revolution
The Philippine Revolution , called the "Tagalog War" by the Spanish, was an armed military conflict between the people of the Philippines and the Spanish colonial authorities which resulted in the secession of the Philippine Islands from the Spanish Empire.The Philippine Revolution began in August...

 against the Spanish colonial authorities, later becoming a signature weapon of guerrillas in the Philippine-American War
Philippine-American War
The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection , was an armed conflict between a group of Filipino revolutionaries and the United States which arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following...

; the longest variation, called a kampilan, was used by the ancient sultanates of Mindanao
Mindanao
Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...

. Filipinos still use employ the bolo for everyday tasks such as clearing vegetation or chopping various large foodstuffs. These are also commonly found in most Filipino kitchens, with some sets displayed on the walls and other sets for more practical usage.

Other similar tools include the parang
Parang (knife)
The parang is the Indonesia equivalent of the machete. Typical vegetation in South East Asia is more woody than in South America and the parang is therefore optimized for a stronger chopping action with a heavier blade and a "sweet spot" further forward of the handle, the blade is also beveled more...

and the golok
Golok
right|thumb|Golok copying the Martindale No 2 designThe golok is a type of machete or broadsword originating in Southeast Asia. The word golok is of Indonesian origin but is also used in Malaysia and is known as gulok in the Philippines...

(from Malaysia and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

); however, these tend to have shorter, thicker blades with a primary grind, and are more effective on woody vegetation. The Nepalese kukri
Kukri
The kukri is a curved Nepalese Knife, similar to the machete, used as both a tool and as a weapon...

is a curved blade which is often used for similar tasks. Some types of Chinese saber (dao
Dao (sword)
Daois a category of single-edge Chinese swords primarily used for slashing and chopping , often called a broadsword in English translation because some varieties have wide blades. In China, the dao is known as one of the four major weapons, along with the gun , qiang , and the jian , and referred...

) are similar.

In the various regions of Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 it is still used as a everyday tool in agricultural labors, such as clearing, chopping, cutting and felling. In the Pacific coast the machete has a long history of use and can be seen as part of the everyday dress of the rural male inhabitants, specially in the provinces of Manabi
Manabí
Word Manabí can refer to:* Manabí Province in Ecuador* Manabí * The manga and anime series Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! or the nickname of its main character Manami Amamiya....

, Los Rios
Los Ríos
Los Ríos may refer to:*Los Ríos Region in Chile*Los Ríos Province in Ecuador*Los Rios historic district in San Juan Capistrano, California* Los Rios Community College District...

 and Guayas
Guayas
Guayas may refer to:*Ecuador:**Guayas River**Guayas Province**Guayas **Guayas *The fruit of the mamoncillo tree...

. In its day the machete and the skills related to it were seen as a token of manliness, and it was carried, sword-like, in ornamented sheaths made out of leather or in sashes around the waist. Its use wasn't limited to agriculture: it also had a double role as a ready-to-hand weapon for self-defense or attack. Although modern laws in Ecuador now prohibit its use as a weapon, there are still cases of vicious fighting or intimidation related to it. Being a part of the male dress, it also has a part in the cultural expressions of the coastal rural regions of Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, such as dances, horsetaming contests and skill exhibitions.

In the southern Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian state of Rio Grande do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost state in Brazil, and the state with the fifth highest Human Development Index in the country. In this state is located the southernmost city in the country, Chuí, on the border with Uruguay. In the region of Bento Gonçalves and Caxias do Sul, the largest wine...

, the machete is largely used by the native inhabitants. It is used to clear paths through the bush, and was used to fight against the Brazilian Empire in the Farrapos' war (War of Tatters
War of Tatters
The War of the Ragamuffins was a Republican uprising that began in southern Brazil, in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina in 1835...

). There, the machete is called "facão" or "facón" (literally "big knife"). Today, there is a dance called dança dos facões (machetes' dance), that is danced in this region. In this dance, performed only by men, the dancers knock their machetes while dancing, simulating a battle. Maculelê
Maculelê (dance)
thumb|Maculele in New York.Maculelê is an Afro Brazilian dance where a number of people gather in a circle called a roda....

, an Afro-Brazilian
Afro-Brazilian
In Brazil, the term "preto" is one of the five categories used by the Brazilian Census, along with "branco" , "pardo" , "amarelo" and "indígena"...

 dance/martial art, can also be performed with facões. This practice began in the city of Santo Amaro, Bahia
Santo Amaro, Bahia
Santo Amaro is a municipality in the state of Bahia in Brazil. The population in 2003 is 58,414, the density is 120.2/km² the area is 486 km²...

, in the northeastern part of the country.

In southern Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 it is widely used to clear bush and often hundreds of macheteros are contracted to assist in clearing paths for the construction of new roads or structures. Many people in the rural regions own machetes to clear the constant overgrow of jungle bush. In the recent drug cartel wars of the region, many homicides and decapitations are suspected of being caused by machetes or similar tools.

Similar historic tools/weapons


The modern machete is very similar to some forms of the medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 falchion
Falchion
A falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the Persian scimitar and the Chinese dao....

, a short sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

 popular from the 13th century onwards. The cutting edge the falchion was curved, widening toward the point, and had a straight, unsharpened back edge. The machete differs from the falchion mainly in the lack of a guard and a simpler hilt, though some machetes do have a guard for greater protection of hands during work.

The kopis
Kopis
The kopis was a sword with a forward-curving blade, primarily used as a tool for cutting meat, for slaughter and animal sacrifice, but also as a weapon....

 was an ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 tool/weapon comparable to the machete. The makhaira
Makhaira
Makhaira is a term used by modern scholars to describe a type of ancient bladed weapon, generally a large knife with a slight backwards curve...

 was also similar, but was intended primarily to be a weapon rather than a tool.

The seax
Seax
Seax in Old English means knife or cutting tool. The name of the roofer's tool, the zax, is a development from this word...

 was a Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 tool/weapon that was also similar in function, although different in shape.

The kukri was a nepalese curved blade used for many purposes similar to the machete.

The parang was a Malaysian knife that many machetes are based on.

The grosse messer was a Medieval large knife
Knife
A knife is a cutting tool with an exposed cutting edge or blade, hand-held or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools...

, employed both as a tool and as a weapon.

The fascine knife
Fascine knife
The fascine knife was a side arm / tool issued to 17th to 19th century light infantry and artillery. It served both as a personal weapon and as a tool for cutting fascines . It could be straight or curved, double edged or single edged with a sawtoothed back...

 is a somewhat similar tool/weapon used by Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an armies throughout the late 18th to early 20th centuries. In fact, the Spanish Army
Spanish Army
The Spanish Army is the terrestrial army of the Spanish Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is one of the oldest active armies - dating back to the 15th century.-Introduction:...

 called its fascine knives machetes. Whereas infantry were usually issued short sabre
Sabre
The sabre or saber is a kind of backsword that usually has a curved, single-edged blade and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger...

s as side arms, engineers
Combat engineering
A combat engineer, also called pioneer or sapper in many armies, is a soldier who performs a variety of construction and demolition tasks under combat conditions...

 and artillerymen
Field artillery
Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, long range, short range and extremely long range target engagement....

 often received fascine knives, as besides being side arms they also served as useful tools for the construction of fortifications and other utilitarian tasks. They differ from machetes in that they generally have far thicker, tapered blades optimized for chopping European vegetation (the thin, flat blade of the machete is better for soft plants found in tropical environments), sword-like hilts and guards, and sometimes a sawback-blade. Some later models could be fixed to rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

s as bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

s as well.

Manufacturing




In manufacturing, both the materials used and the shape of the machete itself are important to make a good machete. In the past, the best and most famous manufacturer of machetes in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 was Collins Company of Collinsville, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

. The company was founded as Collins & Company in 1826 by Samuel W. Collins
Samuel W. Collins
Samuel W. Collins was a Canton, Connecticut axe manufacturer.Samuel Watkinson Collins was born September 8, 1802 in Middletown, Connecticut, one of seven children His father was a...

 to make axe
Axe
The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol...

s. Its first machetes were sold in 1845 and became so famous that all good machetes were called "un Collins.". In the English-speaking Caribbean, Robert Mole & Sons of Birmingham, England, was long considered the manufacturer of agricultural cutlasses of the best quality. Some Robert Mole blades survive as souvenirs of travelers to Trinidad, Jamaica, and, less commonly, St. Lucia.

Since the 1950s however, manufacturing shortcuts have resulted in a quality decline of machetes. Today, most modern factory-made machetes are of very simple construction, consisting of a blade and full-length tang
Tang (weaponry)
A tang or shank is the back portion of a tool where it extends into stock material or is connected to a handle as on a knife, sword, spear, arrowhead, chisel, screwdriver, etc...

 punched from a single piece of flat steel plate of uniform thickness (and thus lack a primary grind
Primary grind
The primary grind is where a knife first begins to narrow into a cutting edge from the thickness of the main stock of the blade. The cross-sectional shape of the blade of a knife or sword is made up of different planes, or grinds. The sharp, cutting edge of the blade is often further ground at a...

), and a simple grip of two plates of wood or plastic bolted or rivet
Rivet
A rivet is a permanent mechanical fastener. Before being installed a rivet consists of a smooth cylindrical shaft with a head on one end. The end opposite the head is called the buck-tail. On installation the rivet is placed in a punched or pre-drilled hole, and the tail is upset, or bucked A rivet...

ed together around the tang. Finally, both sides are ground down to a rough edge so that the purchaser can sharpen the blade to their specific geometry using a file. These machetes are occasionally provided with a simple cord loop as a sort of lanyard
Lanyard
A lanyard is a rope or cord exclusively worn around the neck or wrist to carry something. Usually it is used where there is a risk of losing the object or to ensure it is visible at all times. Aboard a ship, it may refer to a piece of rigging used to secure objects...

, and a canvas
Canvas
Canvas is an extremely heavy-duty plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame...

 scabbard
Scabbard
A scabbard is a sheath for holding a sword, knife, or other large blade. Scabbards have been made of many materials over the millennia, including leather, wood, and metals such as brass or steel.-Types of scabbards:...

—although in some regions where machetes are valuable, commonly used tools, the users may make decorative leather
Leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

 scabbards for them.

Toughness
Toughness
In materials science and metallurgy, toughness is the ability of a material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing; Material toughness is defined as the amount of energy per volume that a material can absorb before rupturing...

 is important because of the twisting and impact forces that the relatively thin blade may encounter, while edge retention is secondary. Medium to high carbon spring steel
Spring steel
Spring steel is a low alloy, medium carbon steel or high carbon steel with a very high yield strength. This allows objects made of spring steel to return to their original shape despite significant bending or twisting.-Grades:...

s such as 1050 to 1095 are well suited to this application (with better machetes using the latter), and are relatively easy to sharpen. Most stainless steel
Stainless steel
In metallurgy, stainless steel, also known as inox steel or inox from French "inoxydable", is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5 or 11% chromium content by mass....

 machetes should be avoided, as a lot of high carbon stainless cannot stand up to repeated impacts, and will easily break if abused.

After hardening, many blades are tempered
Tempering
Tempering is a heat treatment technique for metals, alloys and glass. In steels, tempering is done to "toughen" the metal by transforming brittle martensite or bainite into a combination of ferrite and cementite or sometimes Tempered martensite...

 to maximum toughness, often nearly spring tempered. In comparison to most other knives which are commonly heat treated to a very high degree of hardness, this results in a tougher blade more resistant to chipping and breaking, with an edge that is easier to sharpen but does not retain sharpness as well, due to its lower hardness.

A properly constructed machete will have a convex or flat primary bevel from the spine to the edge, which is formed by a secondary bevel. Better machetes will also have a slight distal taper.

Cultural references

  • The flag of Angola
    Flag of Angola
    The national flag of Angola came into use at independence on November 11, 1975. It is split horizontally into an upper red half and a lower black half.As in some other African countries, this flag is a modification of the ruling party's flag...

     features a Machete, along with a cog-wheel.
  • The machete is also a performance weapon used in variations of the Brazilian
    Brazilian
    Brazilian may refer to anything of or relating to Brazil and may also refer directly to:* Brazilian barbecue, known as churrasco* Brazilian football—see Football in Brazil* Brazilian football clubs—see List of football clubs in Brazil...

     martial dance called maculele
    Maculele
    Maculele, Maculelê or Makulele may refer to:*Makulele , Makulele Area, Makuleke Region, or Pafuri Triangle of the Kruger National Park.*Makulele , Makuleke, people living in Pafuri Triangle....

    , often practiced by proponents of capoeira
    Capoeira
    Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, and music. It was created in Brazil mainly by descendants of African slaves with Brazilian native influences, probably beginning in the 16th century...

    .
  • In the Mexican
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

     state of Durango
    Durango
    Durango officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Durango is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The state is located in Northwest Mexico. With a population of 1,632,934, it has Mexico's second-lowest population density, after Baja...

    , the folkloric dance called Danza de los Machetes consists of blind-folded dancers juggling machetes and pitching them at increasing speeds between one another in synchronicity.
  • In some Central American regions, the machete is believed to be the best weapon to kill the mythical cadejo
    Cadejo
    The cadejo is a character from Salvadoran, Belizean, Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, Honduran, Guatemalan and southern Mexican folklore. There is a good, white cadejo and an evil, black cadejo. Both are spirits that appear at night to travelers: the white to protect them from harm during their journey,...

    .
  • In Colombia
    Colombia
    Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

     and other countries in South America, machete is a term often used to describe a kluge
    Kludge
    A kludge is a workaround, a quick-and-dirty solution, a clumsy or inelegant, yet effective, solution to a problem, typically using parts that are cobbled together...

    .
  • Mexican
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

     news journal Machetearte adopts the name in a game of words, where it can mean Machete Art as well as Striking you with a Machete. It's distribution is mainly throughout Central and Northern Mexico
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

    , as well as online.
  • Fictional serial killer
    Serial killer
    A serial killer, as typically defined, is an individual who has murdered three or more people over a period of more than a month, with down time between the murders, and whose motivation for killing is usually based on psychological gratification...

     from the Friday the 13th film series, Jason Voorhees
    Jason Voorhees
    Jason Voorhees is a fictional character from the Friday the 13th series of slasher films. He first appeared in Friday the 13th , as the son of camp cook-turned-murderer, Mrs. Voorhees, in which he was portrayed by Ari Lehman. Created by Victor Miller, with contributions by Ron Kurz, Sean S...

    , uses a machete on his victims.
  • Machete
    Machete (film)
    Machete is a 2010 action film directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis. The "Machete" character originates from the 2001 Spy Kids film, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. This film is an expansion of a fake trailer that was released together with Rodriguez's and Quentin Tarantino's...

     is a 2010 film by Robert Rodriguez
    Robert Rodriguez
    Robert Anthony Rodríguez is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician. He shoots and produces many of his films in his native Texas and Mexico. He has directed such films as Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn, The Faculty, Spy Kids, Sin City, Planet...

    , named for the character played by Danny Trejo
    Danny Trejo
    Dan "Danny" Trejo is an American actor who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films, most notably in roles as an antagonist, or anti-hero.-Early life:...

    , also starring Steven Seagal
    Steven Seagal
    Steven Frederic Seagal is an American action film star, producer, writer, martial artist, guitarist and reserve deputy sheriff. A 7th-dan black belt in Aikido, Seagal began his adult life as an Aikido instructor in Japan...

     and Robert DeNiro. It is a follow-up to Grindhouse and based on the character developed in Spy Kids
    Spy Kids
    The Spy Kids series is a series of family action adventure films written, produced and directed by Robert Rodriguez. The main plot follows the adventures of two Cortez children who become involved in their parents' espionage. The rest of their family are spies as well, including their estranged...

    .