Hand-Forged Knives and Swords in Oaxaca–Apolinar Aguilar Keeps the Tradition Alive

The famed Oaxaca knife maker Angel Aguilar died several years ago and his brother Apolinar carries on the craftsman tradition by making forging Toledo steel swords and knives in the Angel Aguilar Studio in Ocotlan de Morales, Oaxaca.  I wanted to update all the mis-information floating about that Angel is still at his forge!

Someone recently wrote to me to suggest that.  So, I thought I would add a small insert here to the contrary to keep accurate information circulating on the Internet.

I want to refer you to the very brief Oaxaca Times story about Apolinar Aguilar Velasco written in August 2011.

Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art features Apolinar in their fine book on Oaxaca Folk Art and on their website where you can see a photo of him and his fantastic work.  You can find Apolinar at Callejón Victoria S/N, Ocotlan de Morales, Oaxaca.

As a sidebar: What is fascinating about all the information available online is that it can quickly become outdated and unreliable!  So, it’s important to check facts before referring people to a website or blog that might have come down years ago 🙂  Which is why I am not going to approve the comment about how to find Angel Aguilar and reference to an article written in 2006!


8 responses to “Hand-Forged Knives and Swords in Oaxaca–Apolinar Aguilar Keeps the Tradition Alive

  1. I am sorry for your loss. I have recently acquired one of your knives. I have tried and tried to figure out what is written one it. I think one line is Para ni or para nn then LA Pulpa es Es Pecho. Hard to read it, Second row is El Espinaeo Caroera Now I am guessing on these letters. I have been afraid to scrub it afraid I would hurt the lettering more. This is a very beautiful knife. I plan to have someone restore it. If I am remotely close, could you let me know what is on this knife. Did you or your brother make it. I do want to restore it. Do you do that? If you email me I can send you photo’s of it. I has wood on one side of the handle the other side you can see thru like horn. It has a brass top that looks like a flat headed parrot. I look forward to hear from you.
    Thanks Kat

  2. I have a friend that found a knife that he dug up from the ground at his dads’ house in easterly, Texas. we are wanting to know about the knife. at the hit of the knife as d, Vasques and on one side has a desert setting with cactus and other side has some wording and the only distinguishing words are CANDRIAS CANTAN. THE BEGINNING OF THE PHRASE STARTS WITH (QUE DICEN). Could you tell me when it was made and of what metal it is? THE HANDEL IS A TOTEM POLE LIKE OF THE AZTECS TIME.

  3. Need to reach Apolinar Aguilar in hopes he can help me clean my sword I’ve recently bought and hope I do not destroy. I’ve done the unthinkable and cleaned it with vinegar listening to someone who I shouldn’t have. Please help as I love this sword dearly.

  4. I have recently purchased a sword with Oaxaca engraved on one side with two Jack rabbits and other flourishes and on the other side more flourishes with the words si no las curo les mato la comezon I would like to know what the phrase means and if I got a good deal or not either the balance and look of the sword is very nice oh and the handle appears to be bone with brass hand guard and eagle head at the bottom possibly bronze

  5. We have a knife with the following engraving:
    J.P.Garcia No 15
    This knife is also engraved with deer, a hunter, dogs, catcus and rabbit. The initials PEM are near the hilt of the knife, and the lettering “Solo el que carga el cajon sabe lo que pesa el muerto.”
    Can you tell me anything about his knife?
    Thank you!

    • Richard, sounds like you have a beautiful knife, all handmade. There are few metal smiths remaining in Oaxaca who do handmade work. I know more about textiles than I do about this work. You might want to look at Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art website to see if there are any clues there.

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