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Facón, a long, swordlike knife, the gaucho's favorite and most dangerous weapon. Worn thrust through the back of the gaucho's broad, leather belt (tirador), the facón could easily inflict death in a duel. When dueling, a gaucho wrapped his poncho around one arm as a shield. Knife fights became storied events in gauchesque literature, like José Hernández's Martín Fierro (1872–1879) and Eduardo Gutiérrez's Juan Moreira (1879). Government officials repeatedly outlawed the dangerous weapon, but gauchos rejected firearms in favor of the facón through the twentieth century. They generally used smaller facones for eating, skinning animals, and fashioning equipment out of leather.

See alsoGauchoxml .


Madaline Wallis Nichols, The Gaucho (1968), p. 13.

Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, X-Ray of the Pampa (1971).

Richard W. Slatta, Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier (1983); Cowboys of the Americas (1990), p. 150.

Additional Bibliography

Assunção, Fernando O. Historia del gaucho: El gaucho, ser y quehacer. Buenos Aires: Editorial Claridad, 1999.

De la Fuente, Ariel. Children of Facundo: Caudillo and Gaucho Insurgency during the Argentine State-Formation Process (La Rioja, 1853–1870). Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Domenech, Abel. Dagas de Plata: Cuchillos criollos rioplatenses historia y coleccionismo. Buenos Aires: Casano Gráfica S.A., 2005.

Slatta, Richard W. Comparing Cowboys and Frontiers. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

                                     Richard W. Slatta