“Knife” to Meet You! — A Blacksmiths Story from Rejosari

IRONWORK SICKLE AXE REJOSARI MAGELANGIMAGES BLACKSMITH

If you were to visit this village in the morning, afternoon or even at night, you would be “greeted” with the clatter of iron things, embers and sparks.

By: Sahrudin – alwaysmagelang@gmail.com

DOZENS of sickles, axe heads, and hoes are neatly laid out on Asro’s house foyer in Dusun Sanggrahan, Rejosari Village, Pakis District, Magelang Regency.

There are also cleavers in a variety of sizes and weights made of either stainless or carbon steel. 

Asro is one of dozens of traditional village ironsmiths in Rejosari Village. He has a small scale metalworks manufacturing with several workers.

Siti, Asro’s wife, and Lina, her daughter, are having a busy time answering inquiries and serving buyers negotiating prices.

“Look, this is the most commonly used cutting tool. It is used for slicing, chopping, carving and crushing”, Siti told a buyer, showing a stainless steel chef’s knife.

“You can’t bid again. I have already cut the price”, Lina told another buyer.

Meanwhile, some people are sitting on benches in the courtyard, waiting for their knives and cleavers to be sharpened.

“We use both grindstones and files to sharpen their cutting tools”, Manto, one of Asro’s knife-grinders said.

When necessary, Manto will also do heat treatment to work on them.

“All of our knives and cleavers are forged, annealed, heat-treated, ground, polished and hand-sharpened”, he said.

Nearly the same activities are also seen in Margiono’s home terrace and courtyard across from Asro’s house, as well as in other residences in the village.

IRONWORK SICKLE AXE REJOSARI PAKIS MAGELANG IMAGES BLACKSMITH

REJOSARI Village is Magelang Regency’s ironworks manufacturing hub.

As of the Central Statistic Agency (BPS) census of 2010, there were 490 families and 1,873 people residing in the village.

About 40 percent of the total families were made a living blacksmithing.

Blacksmith shops, with their collection of tools of hammers, tongs and of course the anvil, could be found easily in the village.

Since when have Rejosari people started in ironworking?

“It has been handed down from generation to generation”, Sumardi, known as the most popular ironsmith in the village replied, without mentioning the exact year.

As far as he can remember, Sumardi made his very first knife when he was young, circa 1970s.

After he made a few knives, and decided he wanted to take it a step further.

“I found out that there was a lot more to it than honing a piece of steel. Since then, it has just been advancement and trying to make a better knife than the last.”

With gradual increase of knowledge he obtained, he started purchasing equipment and materials to make better knives, and cleavers.

“That was the skill I passed down from father”, the 55-year-old man affectionately known as Mbah Mardi said.

In 2002, his profile appeared in a book entitled Berbagi Rahasia Usaha di Masa Sulit (literally Sharing Secrets of Businesses in Tough Times) published by Grasindo and SCTV.

In 2006, he had been awarded first prize in Citi Microentrepreneurship Award, one of the most prestigious and representative annual SMEs awards.

Most of his products are handmade using traditional blacksmithing techniques.

Mbah Mardi, together with his eight workers, is now busy working on ranging from agricultural to cutting tools, from kitchen knives to military stilettos and daggers.

“Steps in making cutting tools are essentially the same. The iron is heated in a coke forge then hammered into shape on the anvil. After working the iron it’s then polished and finished to the customer’s demand.”***

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