Blacksmithing as a Foundation Craft

As civilization moved from the hunter gatherer stage into settled communities, the developing technology of metalworking became increasingly important. The metal implements that took less time to make and were more durable than the stone tools of the earlier age. From the earliest days, the smith became an essential person in the survival of a community, and blacksmithing became a foundation craft.

This title is given to the craft because every other craftsman required tools made by the smith to perform his craft. The weaver needed scissors or knives to cut thread or cloth. The woodworker needed chisels and saws. The potter used metal implements to help shape his wares. Woodsmen needed axes and saws. The farmer needed hoes, rakes, and plowshares. The warrior, of course, needed armor and weaponry.

If a community were to thrive, it had to have a smithy. In order to survive, it needed to be in proximity to a smithy. Otherwise, when the tools were worn or broken, they could not be mended.

In the early days of the colonization of America, blacksmiths were enticed to move to the new world by land grants and other incentives to ensure the sur-vival of the colonies. As the country expanded westward, the smith was a vital player in the expansion of settlement. Any perusal of history will reveal the important role the smith has played.

The Old Testament has numerous references to the smith. And when Nebuchadnezzar took the nation of Israel captive, he made sure to take all the carpenters and smiths to Babylon so no weapons of resistance could be formed against his occupying government.

For the same reason, during the time of the Judges when the Philistines controlled Israel, everyone had to take their tools to the Philistine smiths to be sharpened or repaired. The smith and his abilities have always been a threat to tyrannical governments.

So I encourage you to research for yourself. Learn the craft for yourself along with the craft for it is a long and honorable history. I leave you with this poem.

Tubal Cain

OLD Tubal Cain was a man of might
In the days when earth was young:
By the fierce red light of his furnace bright
The strokes of his hammer rung;
And he lifted high his brawny hand
On the iron glowing clear,
Till the sparks rush'd out in scarlet showers,
As he fashion'd the sword and spear.
And he sang - 'Hurrah for my handiwork!
Hurrah for the spear and sword!
Hurrah for the hand that shall wield them well,
For he shall be king and lord!'

To Tubal Cain came many a one,
As he wrought by his roaring fire,
And each one pray'd for a strong steel blade
As the crown of his desire;
And he made them weapons sharp and strong,
Till they shouted loud for glee,
And gave him gifts of pearls and gold,
And spoils of the forest free.
And they sang - 'Hurrah for Tubal Cain,
Who hath given us strength anew!
Hurrah for the smith, hurrah for the fire,
And hurrah for the metal true!'

But a sudden change came o'er his heart
Ere the setting of the sun,
And Tubal Cain was fill'd with pain
For the evil he had done;
He saw that men, with rage and hate,
Made war upon their kind,
That the land was red with the blood they shed
In their lust for carnage, blind.
And he said - 'Alas! that ever I made,
Or that skill of mine should plan,
The spear and the sword for men whose joy
Is to slay their fellow-man!'

And for many a day old Tubal Cain
Sat brooding o'er his woe;
And his hand forebore to smite the ore,
And his furnace smoulder'd low.
But he rose at last with a cheerful face,
And a bright courageous eye,
And bared his strong right arm for work,
While the quick flames mounted high.
And he sang - 'Hurrah for my handiwork!'
And the red sparks lit the air;
'Not alone for the blade was the bright steel made;'
And he fashion'd the first ploughshare!

And men, taught wisdom from the past,
In friendship join'd their hands,
Hung the sword in the hall, the spear on the wall,
And plough'd the willing lands;
And sang - 'Hurrah for Tubal Cain!
Our stanch good friend is he;
And for the ploughshare and the plough
To him our praise shall be.
But while Oppression lifts its head,
Or a tyrant would be lord,
Though we may thank him for the plough,
We'll never forget the sword!'

Charles Mackay

Happy Smithing and God Bless

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