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Kap at his best fire knife performance ever. Video prepared for web by Freelancer Internet Specialist Samoa |

The Art of Fire Knife Dance

The Fire Knife is a traditional Samoan cultural implement that is used in ceremonial dances. It was originally composed of a machete wrapped in towels on both ends with a portion of the blade exposed in the middle. Tribal performers of fire knife dancing (or Siva Afi as it is called in Samoa) dance while twirling the knife and doing other acrobatic stunts. The towels are set afire during the dances thus explaining the name.

Knife dancing has a history which goes back several generations. The modern fire knife dance has its roots in the Samoan "Ailao" - a Samoan warrior's knife dance which was done with the "nifo oti", which means "tooth of death". The Samoan's eventually combined the nifo oti with the "lave" - which was basically a hook and was used to snare parts of an enemy's body. When modern machetes became available, the Nifo Oti evolved into its current form, a machete with the tip cut off, fashioned into a hook, and then welded back on. The Ailao dance was done both pre-battle, to intimidate the enemy and to psyche up the warrior, and also post-battle as a victory dance. The hook was often used to carry and display the head of a defeated enemy.

The Samoan Fire Knife World Competition is held every year at the Polynesian Culture Center. Tickets are always sold out as many traveled to Laie, Hawaii to witness fire knife talents from around the world for the world champion title. Click below for more...



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