Archiver > NEW-NETHERLAND > 2002-12 > 1040157536

From: Cor Snabel <>
Subject: [NEW-NETH] Leisure & Folklore - Cutting faces
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 21:38:56 +0100

Dear friends,

Like the cruel games our ancestors played with animals, they had some
nasty sports too.

Cor Snabel
The Netherlands


Cutting faces (bekkesnijden)

Until far into the 18th century, a public entertainment called
"bekkesnijden" (cutting faces) was practiced all over the country. It
had nothing to do with a fight or a quarrel; it was a game, with rules.
It was played with a blunt knife, or sometimes with the edge of a coin.

The challenger wore the feather of a cock on his hat; he was called the
"haneveer". He attached his knife above the door of the inn and the one
who touched it or even looked at it, accepted the challenge.
The two players stood in a circle, which was drawn in the sand. One hand
was covered with several layers of cloth for protection, so the cuts of
the opponent could be parried. In the other hand was the knife or the
coin. The intention was to cut the opponent in the cheek.
The wounds made by these blunt objects healed with a lot of raw meat and
left very nasty scars. These scars were considered to be signs of honor.
These "games" were so popular and important in some regions, that the
girls rejected any lover who could not show his scar.

The innkeepers organized complete tournaments. The government, however,
tried to stop these organized games and in the second half of the 18th
century their efforts were successful. Slowly this phenomenon

German students also practiced this self-mutilation, with a scar as sign
of honor, in the early years of the 20th century. They were not allowed
to move their feet, while fighting with swords. During these fights they
wore half-open leather masks.

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