Tiny Swords

Essay 531 • Jul 9th 2023

When I tell people I collect shiny, small things, they are quick to speculate. Jewelry! Crystals!! Expensive minerals and stones carved from beneath Earth’s crust!!! As a woman in the U.S., it is very easy to find pleasure in a pair of dangling diamond earrings, and while there is nothing wrong with that, my heart (and wallet) is set on something else: swords. Tiny, beautiful swords.

Where did this fixation come from? It’s hard to say. It could stem from my childhood, time spent in England’s countryside exploring derelict abbeys. Or perhaps, binge-reading historian-turned-author Bernard Cornwall’s dozen or so historical fiction books through my years at university, and subsequently revisiting them through the pandemic.

Swords have permeated our societies, cementing themselves in pop culture through means of TV shows and video games, books and art. They’ve even spread to Olympic-level sport; fencing dates back to the 15th century when people began donning themselves with swords on the reg (the hot new accessory back then.)

These edged weapons, originally sometimes used for battle, sometimes used for grandiose ceremonies and prestige, have congregated all over the globe, spanning distance and time. East Africa, South Asia, Ancient Europe, pre-Medieval Americas...with a background working at a magazine, it felt natural to document my own tiny collection, staged in small vignettes throughout my apartment.

As a working photographer it is all too easy to get swept up in the bustle of shooting for clients and photographing what others want photographed. But every so often, I’ll grab my camera and document my stockpile of tiny swords, finding satisfaction in the gap between documentation and art. For me, it is a reminder that art should be created selfishly and joyously as often as possible, and even the smallest of things can ignite joy.


Evelyn Freja is primarily a portrait photographer based in New York City. Raised in the quiet countryside and the youngest of three daughters, her work explores the sensitive inner outlook of her subjects, often isolated in studio or outdoors in nature. Evelyn holds a degree in International Trade and Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology and can often be found taking pictures, writing, or reading.
Instagram | Website