Knife Man (Amolador)

Posted: April 3rd, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Knife Man from mattquann on Vimeo.

last summer each afternoon i kept hearing the same few pan flute notes out the window. it sounded like someone was walking around slowly playing the same notes over and over while rambling back and forth through the old streets of our neighborhood (i thought maybe it was zamfir, master of the pan flute).

just a month ago i learned that the person playing the pan flute was an “amolador” or knife sharpener. these skilled knife sharpeners push their bikes through the streets, playing a distinctive tune on pan flutes to signal their presence.

their bikes serve as a mobile workshop, with a sharpening stone mounted on the top tube, a tool box strapped to the back, and umbrellas draped over the handlebars. last week when i heard the amolador out the window i grabbed my camera and my knife and went out to find him.

apparently there used to be many amoladors in portugal, but with the advent of cheap knives and scissors it’s a dying profession which is too bad because it’s pretty cool. I found a popular portuguese saying, “quando há amolador, há chuva”: when the knife sharpener is around, it’s going to rain.

this amolador made my knife super sharp despite his less-than-cirucular grinding stone, and it only cost €2.50.

5 Comments on “Knife Man (Amolador)”

  1. 1 Adam said at 10:04 pm on April 14th, 2010:

    Hey Matt,

    Cool site/blog, diggin the no-clutter look. I’m going to post about this on my blog I recently started on Portugal. Hope you don’t mind but if you do, let me know and I’ll take it down.

    Reminds me of the noise-makers of Brazil although I’d be down for a flute player any day over the Brazilian “carro de som” (dude with a loudspeaker trying to sell you something). Not sure if they have those there but you are lucky if they don’t.


  2. 2 admin said at 1:36 am on April 15th, 2010:

    feel free to crosspost this. the amolador is a cool tradition.

  3. 3 Peter and Michel said at 9:18 pm on May 2nd, 2010:

    awesome video.

    we miss you guys.

    Peter and Michel

  4. 4 Steve said at 4:05 am on May 28th, 2010:

    feel free to crosspost this. the amolador is a cool tradition.

  5. 5 Pedro said at 4:09 am on May 28th, 2010:

    I’m not sure this happens everywhere and with all amoladores (probably not), but it happens with the one that goes by my street. He forecasts rain. Yep, it’s strange, and I didn’t believe it when my mum told me about it the first time. He only shows up on the eve of rainy days (not all rainy days, but when he does shows up, it will rain the day after). I’ve been specially alert ever since and it’s true! :)

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