South Africa, 21st century


What is it and what is it used for? To South American rainforest people, the machete is by far the most important tool they use in every day life. Machetes come in many shapes and sizes, and every family member from around eight years of age has one. They are used to clear vegetation along trails and in gardens (chacras), to dig holes for planting, to cut or dig for harvesting, to chop vegetables and meat for cooking, to prepare vines and palm leaves for basketry or roofing and for protection against poisonous snakes.

Who uses it? Machetes are used by farmers throughout the world and each region has its preferred style. This machete was made for export to South America and is in the South American style. In the western Amazon regions however most people prefer machetes with orange handles as they are easier to spot against the dark green undergrowth.

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A machete in use: