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Author Topic:   Information sought on Singhalese Piha Kaetta
Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 06-22-2001 06:33     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Received for posting from JL:

quote:
I have been searching for books, articles and/or literature of any form covering an in depth study of the Singhalese Piha Kaetta. With the exception of brief passages in Stones, Sword and Hilt Weapons, and excerpts from various pricing and antique guides plus numerous sales catalogs, I have not been able to locate anything substantial. The one item I was able to obtain is a treatise entitled, 'Sinhala Weapons and Armor', authored by P.E.P. Deraniyagala.

Possibly some of the EEWRS Forum members who posses extensive libraries would be kind enough to share any pertinent information that they may be privy to. I am primarily seeking information related to fabricating techniques, materials employed during fabrication, cultural aspects and chronological data.

Any assistance offered will be greatly appreciated. Hopefully I will get lucky within this group.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 06-22-2001 17:54     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I ALSO WOULD BE INTERESTED IN ANY INFO ON THE KNIVES AND WEAPONS OF CEYLON (SIRI LANKA). I WILL DIG AROUND MY BOOKS BUT ABOUT THE ONLY THING I REMEMBER BESIDES THE TWO ABOVE SOURCES WAS THAT SOMEONE BACK IN THE 60'S USED TO SELL THEM AS SACRIFICIAL KNIVES FROM CEYLON. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE FANCY ONES WERE USED FOR BUT I HAVE SOME THAT LOOK LIKE THEY WERE WORK KNIVES, AND SOME MUCH TOO NICE FOR THAT.

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Maskell
Member
posted 07-02-2001 19:24     Click Here to See the Profile for Maskell   Click Here to Email Maskell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I also am interested in Piha Kaetta and unable to find much information other than what has been listed here. I have also heard them refered to a sacrifical knife, being a antique arms dealer I have been collecting them as a personal interest and have well over 100.
Regards,
Maskell

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-03-2001 02:29     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WOW! OVER 100 THAT MUST BE SOME COLLECTION. I HAVE SOME WITH WOOD GRIPS AND SOME WITH IVORY GRIPS. I ALSO HAVE SOME WITH GRIPS THAT ARE SORT OF TRANSLUCENT REDDISH MATERIAL, I SEEM TO REMEMBER THAT MATERIAL BEING CALLED FISH BONE, BUT THE ONLY FISH BONE I HAVE EVER SEEN THAT LOOKED LIKE THAT WAS FOSSIL. DO YOU HAVE ANY WITH GRIPS LIKE THAT? PERHAPS WE CAN LOOK AT THE KNIVES WE HAVE AND GET A IDEA OF THE VARIATIONS OF FORM SIZE, MATERIALS AND IF SOMEBODY IS VERSED IN KNIFE MAKING PERHAPS THE METHODS USED TO MAKE THE PIHA KAETTA. MOST OF THE BLADES I HAVE SEEN HAVE BEEN SO RUSTY I DON'T KNOW IF GOOD STEEL OR DAMASCUS OR LOW GRADE WAS USED. IT MAY EVEN BE A SPECIAL MIX OF METALS FOR ALL I KNOW AS I THINK IT HAD CEREMONIAL USE. PERHAPS WE COULD CONTACT A MUSEUM IN CEYLON AND RUN DOWN A EXPERT THERE.

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Maskell
Member
posted 07-04-2001 23:54     Click Here to See the Profile for Maskell   Click Here to Email Maskell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gentleman, some thoughts on the Piha-Kaetta, Of the 111 in my collection 67 have carved ivory grips, 5 are believed to be wood covered in worked sheet silver, 1 rock crystal, another is brass inlayed in silver and the other 37 I believe to be different kinds of horn. Yes Vandoo some of what I believed to be horn is somewhat translucent and reddish in color but I like the idea they may be petrified fish bones. Some that I originally believed to be wood turned out to be horn. Those before circa 1700 seem bowie knife shaped, very big, thick, roughly made and hand forged out of a billet with striations present. Assume all were hand forged but guess the workmanship got better later and the striations are not as obvious. Those after circa 1700, also bowie knife shape are noted to have the designs chiseled in detail out of the blades as noted on some with inlay missing and true inlayed in silver, gold, brass, copper etc. The later ones of the 19th. Century have blades of the kitchen cutlery shape, are rather thin and the decoration is done in the koftgari method. The above are random thoughts from observations and I welcome being corrected. It is interesting to note that on page 50 & 51 of HUNTING WEAPONS by Howard L. Blackmore (Walker & Co. NY 1971) there is pictured a scramasax, at Aachen Cathedral, traditionally the hunting knife of Charlemagne and another not pictured of the 10th. Century in the British Museum that is strangely very much like a piha-kaetta in form and decoration. I would be happy to share pictures and information with anyone interested but must admit I am computer illiterate, have no idea what HTML’s or whatever that stuff means, so I don’t have a clue as how to list them here. Maybe I could e-mail the pictures and someone can put them on.
Regards,
Maskell

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-05-2001 06:09     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote




Piha Kaetta

This knife has lost more of its overlay on the opposite side, unfortunately. Overall length: 11.25 inches (29 cm.). The blade reaches its maximum thickness of 0.28 inches (7.25 mm) along the back where the clip point begins.

Any comments, especially estimates on the age of this knife, would be appreciated.

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Oriental-Arms
Senior Member
posted 07-05-2001 14:41     Click Here to See the Profile for Oriental-Arms   Click Here to Email Oriental-Arms     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A nice collection of four Piha Kaetta knives with detailed description is shown in the book : Zdzislaw Zygulski, Stara Bron w Polskich Zbiorach (Old Weapons in Polish Collections), page 262. Unfortunately my Polish is far from being enough to understand the text.

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RSword
Senior Member
posted 07-05-2001 16:25     Click Here to See the Profile for RSword   Click Here to Email RSword     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bill,

If you send any pics, I would love to see the one with the Rock Crystal for the hilt. That particular one would be a great rarity and such a difficult material to work with, it would be a treat to view. I know if you e-mail pics to our moderator, he is always happy to add the pics.

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-05-2001 20:05     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Received for posting from Maskell:







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Maskell
Member
posted 07-06-2001 07:50     Click Here to See the Profile for Maskell   Click Here to Email Maskell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First I’d like to thank Lee Jones for posting my pictures for me. My guess on his piece that Lee posted is circa 1750, taking into account the shape, size and the chiseled out design to the blade before applying the decorative metalwork. Also noted are the assumed brass bolsters with silver inlay, an unusual combination that I recall only seeing on samurai sword fittings, a form of brass alloy called sentoku that is inlayed in silver and other soft metals and the 20th. Century Turkish coffee sets of brass and inlayed usually in silver and copper. I have a number of piha kaetta’s with this type work in the collection.

Now getting to my collection, the top piece in the 1st. photo is a monster in size, it is 19 inches overall, widest area of the blade is 2 7/8 inches and a full ˝ inch thick, weight approx. 4 ˝ lbs. (yep, bathroom scale, not exactly high tech.) I acquired this piece from an English dealer about 20 years ago, said he got it from a private collection in Germany and touted it as being the worlds largest piha kaetta. It also has a maker’s mark inscribed on the ivory grip that looks like and may actually be a Sanskrit character. A number of other pieces in the collection have these same type characters. While the middle piece in the 3rd. photo is 17 ˝ inches it has no where’s near the heft of this one.

In the 2nd. photo at top is a stylus and unknown object that matches, it has true inlay of gold in steel, a few of the piha kaetta in the collection have this exact type stylus in the pocket of their sheaths. The next piece is the one with the rock crystal grip which is mounted in a silver bolster, there is no tang going through the grip but a depression at the butt end for the usual capstan rivet on tang end, now lost but must have been purely decorative. This was said to be a wedding piece alluring to the thought that some were ceremonial. The blade is rather thin and I assume it to be 19th. century. The single one-piece grip, also a 19th. century characteristic is unlike the earlier slab 2-piece grips of the 18th. century and before. The next piece, I kind of like the scroll carved ivory grips, it reminds you of the ivory butt of the toe lock gun from Ceylon that is in the MET in NYC. The next piece I believe to be 17th. or maybe even 16th. century and while condition is not an indication of age the study of samurai sword blades, my specialty of 30 years, after studying thousands of samurai sword tangs you kind of get the feel of what is natural aged metal and their era, from artificial rust or neglected more modern rust. It is a hard thing to explain in words but those of you who are knowledgeable in Japanese swords will know what I am talking about.

The last 2 photo’s are close ups of the same piece as the one at top of the 3rd. photo, it is 12 3/8th. inches. overall, but only the last 4 5/8th. inches of the blade is bare metal, another indication that some of these are ceremonial. I am quite fond of this piece as the design and quality of the workmanship are outstanding.

Regards,
Maskell


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Jasun
Member
posted 07-06-2001 12:10     Click Here to See the Profile for Jasun     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gentlemen,
When I initialy registered with the EEWRS Forum, I reviewed all the current postings and replies(several thousands) in order to see if there was anything referencing piha kaettas. Much to my dismay there were one or two posts at best.
So you can certainly appreciate my elation when there were multiple replies to my posting requesting p.k. information.
It's a good feeling to finaly be able to talk(so to speak) to other collectors who appreciate the piha kaetta form.


To Vandoo
I have a piha kaetta coming in the mail that has black coral grips (slabs), so by virtue of these grips, I feel that your reddish grips maybe red/orange coral grips. Something to think about!

To Maskell
Totally bowled over by the size and scope of your collection, it is quite impressive, and definitely world class.
I am very interested in your thoughts regarding the chronological age of the different shaped piha kaettas in your collection. I have not encounted any writings or factors that allude to what you suggest in your statements. But in the absence of any proven criteria. I feel that your observations, supported by 30 years of collecting edged weapons does reinforce your theories regarding establishing the time frames of piha kaetta manufacture. And I shall apply your approach for aging to my modest collection.
Regards,
Jasun


factors have you encountered that promted you to state "large ,roughly made, bowie shaped blades were pre cira 1700" and more sophisticated bbowie shaped blades

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Jasun
Member
posted 07-06-2001 12:13     Click Here to See the Profile for Jasun     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gentlemen,
When I initialy registered with the EEWRS Forum, I reviewed all the current postings and replies(several thousands) in order to see if there was anything referencing piha kaettas. Much to my dismay there were one or two posts at best.
So you can certainly appreciate my elation when there were multiple replies to my posting requesting p.k. information.
It's a good feeling to finaly be able to talk(so to speak) to other collectors who appreciate the piha kaetta form.


To Vandoo
I have a piha kaetta coming in the mail that has black coral grips (slabs), so by virtue of these grips, I feel that your reddish grips maybe red/orange coral grips. Something to think about!

To Maskell
Totally bowled over by the size and scope of your collection, it is quite impressive, and definitely world class.
I am very interested in your thoughts regarding the chronological age of the different shaped piha kaettas in your collection. I have not encounted any writings or factors that allude to what you suggest in your statements. But in the absence of any proven criteria. I feel that your observations, supported by 30 years of collecting edged weapons does reinforce your theories regarding establishing the time frames of piha kaetta manufacture. And I shall apply your approach for aging to my modest collection.
Regards,
Jasun


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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-06-2001 22:42     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
GREAT COLLECTION! I DON'T HAVE MANY AND CAN'T LAY MY HANDS ON THEM RIGHT NOW AS I AM IN THE PROCESS OF TURNING ONE OF MY ROOMS INTO A ARMORY TO DISPLAY MY COLLECTION. IN YOUR PICTURES THE THIRD PICTURE, THIRD KNIFE DOWN APPEARS TO BE A FIGHTING KNIFE, EVERY BIT AS EFFICENT AS A BOWIE, HOW IS ITS BALANCE? THAT WILL TELL THE TALE AS TO WEATHER IT JUST LOOKS LIKE A FIGHTER OR WAS REALLY DESIGNED TO BE ONE. I TEND TO BELEIVE THAT THE USUAL ONES WERE CEREMONIAL AND NOT A WEAPON BECAUSE OF THE BALANCE BEING MORE SIMILAR TO A MEAT CLEAVER. I AM SURE MY GRIPS ARE NOT RED CORAL AS I AM A DIVER AND HAVE WENT DEEP AND COLLECTED SOME AND ALSO DO LAPIDARY WORK AND HAVE WORKED SOME. IF I FIND ONE WITH THOSE GRIPS I WILL TAKE A LOOK WITH MY MICROSCOPE, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO TELL IF ITS HORN AND PERHAPS I CAN ROUND UP SOME FOSSIL FISH BONES TO LOOK AT ALSO. AT FIRST I THOUGHT YOU HAD THE SMALLEST PHIA KAETTA I HAD EVER SEEN AND IT TURNS OUT YOU HAVE THE BIGGEST. BLACK CORAL IS MUCH MORE COMMON AND AT SHALLOWER DEPTH THAN THE GOOD REDS, I HAVE A KNIFE FROM THE MALDIVE ISLANDS THAT HAS A GRIP AND SHIETH MADE OF BLACK CORAL, BUT IT IS JUST A TOURIST PIECE. THE TRADITIONAL DAGGER FROM THERE ALWAYS HAS A HANDLE MADE FROM (FISH TOOTH) THATS WHAT THEY CALL SPERM WHALE TOOTH. I COULDN'T AFFORD ONE THERE AS CRUSE SHIPS AND JAPANESE HAD RAN THE PRICE UP OUT OF MY RANGE. I DID GET ONE FOR A GOOD PRICE LATER HERE IN THE GOOD OL USA. THEY HAVE A SMALL MUSEUM IN THE FORMER PALACE THAT HAS A FEW WEAPONS. THE RULER AT THAT TIME WAS VERY MUCH INTO MARTIAL ARTS , ESPECIALLY SPEAR FIGHTING AND THEY HAVE SOME INFORMATION ABOUT IT IN THE MUSEUM. THE SPEARS THERE LOOKED ALOT LIKE THE ONE I HAVE THAT IS FROM CEYLON AND AS THE MALDIVES ARE JUST SOUTH AND WEST OF CEYLON I SUSPECT THERE IS A CONNECTION.

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VANDOO
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posted 07-07-2001 22:23     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ONE FORM OF THE FIGHTING SPEARS MENTIONED IN MY POST ABOVE IS A SINHALESE ( PATISTHANAYA) SEE STONES GLOSSARY PAGE 487 FIG.#623 SEE THE POSTING HELP TO IDENTIFY KNIFE FOR DR. ALEX HOFFMIESTER FOR A PICTURE OF THE DAGGER FROM THE MALDIVE ISLANDS MENTIONED ABOVE.

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 07-12-2001).]

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 07-12-2001).]

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VANDOO
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posted 07-12-2001 20:38     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I LOCATED TWO OF MY PIHA-KAETTA I TOOK THEM BY THE LOCAL IVORY EXPERT FOR HIM TO HAVE A LOOK. HIS OPINION WAS THAT THE OLDER KNIFE WOULD BE 1700 TO VERY EARLY 1800'S. THE GRIP WAS HIPPO IVORY AND WAS SO OLD THAT IT WAS IN THE PROCESS OF TURNING TO CHALK AND WAS COVERED WITH TINY CRACKS. HE RECOMMENDED THAT I PUT SOME BABY OIL ON IT TO STOP THE DETERIORATION. THE NEWEST KNIFE HAS SPERM WHALE IVORY FOR A HANDLE AND WOULD BE 19 CENTURY, IT HAS THE FANCY BRASS ON THE BLADE. THE OLDER ONE DOESN'T HAVE ANY DECORATION ON THE BLADE AND THE CORROSION HAS SOME GREEN IN IT WHICH WOULD INDICATE A ALLOY OF SOME KIND BEING USED IN THE BLADE.THE KNIFE FROM THE MALDIVES HAS SPERM WHALE IVORY FOR THE HILT AND SHOWS AGE BUT IS 20 CENTURY. IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO SOMEONE WHO SPECIALIZES IN IVORY IN YOUR AREA YOU CAN GET A LOT OF INFORMATION.AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT THIS IVORY EXPERT KNOWS QUITE ALOT ABOUT EDGED WEAPONS ALSO. MR MASKELL IN YOUR SECOND PICTURE THE BOTTOM KNIFE HAS THE DARK COLORED HANDLE LIKE MY 17 CENTURY KNIFE YOU MIGHT TAKE A LOOK WITH A POWERFUL LOOP AND SEE IF IT HAS LOTS OF SMALL CRACKS AND IF SO BABY OIL IT IT WILL HELP ALL IVORY, IT KEEPS IT FROM DRYING OUT AND OXIDIZING. I WILL TRY TO FIND MY OTHER SPECIMENS AND GET FURTHER INFO AND WILL GET SOME PICTURES TO POST.

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 07-12-2001).]

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 07-15-2001).]

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Maskell
Member
posted 07-13-2001 02:12     Click Here to See the Profile for Maskell   Click Here to Email Maskell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gentlemen, been busy and didn’t get a chance to write till now. Vandoo while the piha kaetta, you refer to is packed away, from memory I agree with you that it would be more suitable for fighting than a lot of the others. Most do seem awkward in the hand and kind of clumsy and more suited for sacrificial. There we go again. The other you refer to in the 2nd. picture is also packed away, will check for tiny cracks in the ivory when I get a chance.

Jasum, I also never seen anything in writing as far as the chronology of types for dating these, about a third of the collection came from an English dealer in the 1980’s, a few at a time, still a good friend but his piha kaetta prices kept getting higher. He is a very knowledgeable dealer in all forms of antique arms and armor, I have always found his information to be good. I also inquired about them being called sacrificial knives and blood-letters, his answer was to his knowledge they are the national knife of Ceylon and used like any other knife of any other country, disappointing as I guess we all like to hear some exotic story how certain things were used. He always would date them by century. This seems to all fit in logically within types of piha kaetta . A few seem to be made by the same hand, if not at least the same workshop. Of course dating is only a guess on my part, I always stand to be corrected and welcome it, and this is how we learn.


What may also be of interest the sheath of the bottom one in the 3rd. picture is carved overall to a mythical bird in what looks like lignum-vitae. There are also two grips in the collection carved to the same bird in ivory. This same bird is also seen often on the quillions of the sword called kastane also from Ceylon.

Regards,
Maskell

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-13-2001 03:08     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
HERE I HAVE BEEN MAKING COMMENTS ABOUT SOME KIND OF ALLOY IN THE BLADE OF MY OLD SPECIMEN AND IT TURNS OUT IT HAS A NON MAGNETIC METAL BLADE MOST LIKELY BRONZE, BUT POSSIBLY COPPER. IF A KNIFE FROM THE 1700'S WAS USED EVERYDAY AND KEPT SHARP AS A KITCHEN OR WORK KNIFE BRONZE BLADE OR STEEL IT WOULD BE WORN DOWN TO A SLIVER (LIKE MY MOMS KITCHEN KNIVES ABOUT 50 YRS.OLD.) I ALSO THINK THERE WOULD NOT BE LOTS OF OLD PITTED BLADES THAT RETAINED THEIR ORIGINAL SHAPE, IF THEY HAD SEEN MUCH USE OR BEEN USED REGULARLY, IF YOU JUST CHOPPED SOMETHING EVERY ONCE AND AWHILE AND DIDN'T CLEAN THE BLOOD OFF AND PUT IT BACK IN ITS PLACE UNTIL THE NEXT OCCASION IT WAS NEEDED FOR. YOU COULD END UP WITH SUCH A BLADE. THE PITTED RUSTY BLADE SEEMS VERY COMMON ON KNIVES FROM SIRI LANKA AND I DON'T THINK ITS JUST BECAUSE OF THE SEA.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-16-2001 00:11     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
HI LEE I WAS LOOKING AT THE PICTURE YOU POSTED AND WAS WONDERING IF THE GRIPS ON IT WERE EBONY OR PERHAPS BLACK CORAL LIKE MEMBER JASUN MENTIONED ON THE KNIFE HE ORDERED. I COULD TELL IF I COULD SEE THE KNIFE BUT PICTURES JUST DON'T TELL THE TALE ON SOME THINGS.I SAW ANOTHER PIHA-KAETTA FOR SALE ON ONE OF THE GALLERY SITES THAT HAD ONE THEY LISTED AS HAVEING BLACK CORAL GRIPS. I AM NOT IN THE INCOME GROUP TO BE ABLE TO BUY FROM GALLERY SITES HOWEVER SO CAN'T CHECK IT OUT BY BUYING IT. I SUSPECT THAT THE PRESENCE OF BLACK CORAL GRIPS WOULD INDICATE A NEWER KNIFE AS IT ONLY BECAME READILY AVALABLE WITH THE ADVENT OF SCUBA DIVEING AND I DON'T REMEMBER EVER READING OF ITS USE IN HISTORICAL TIMES. RED CORAL ON THE OTHER HAND HAS BEEN IN USE AND IN HISTORICAL RECORDS FOR A LONG TIME. I KNOW FROM PERSONEL EXPERIANCE THEY ARE USING BLACK CORAL FOR GRIPS AND SHEITHS IN THE MALDIVES. AS THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO REFRENCE BOOKS ON THIS KNIFE WHAT I WRITE IS BASED ON LOGIC, CONJECTURE AND IS MY OPINION. FACT OR FICTION? WHO KNOWS! PERHAPS BY STUDYING THE SPECIMINS WE HAVE AND CONTINUING TO DISCUSS WHAT WE FIND OUT WE CAN BUILD UP A BASIC KNOWLEGE(SOME WILL BE CORRECT AND SOME WRONG) BUT UNTIL WE CAN FIND A EXPERT WE WILL HAVE TO WORK WITH WHAT WE HAVE. I HAVE LEARNED THAT THERE IS AT LEAST ONE OLD WELL WORN SPECIMIN WITH A BRONZE BLADE AND THE ORIGINAL IVORY GRIPS, 1700 CENTURY? GET OUT THE OLD MAGNET AND CHECK ANY BLADES THAT DON'T LOOK QUITE LIKE IRON.

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-16-2001 07:12     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Vandoo - I looked at the handle and surprise, I noticed something I had not seen on it before. There are two scales on either side, an inner one of dark horn or wood and an outer one of even darker wood. The inner layer appears to have been less weathered and worn than the outer one and while I think it may be a later repair, it could also be contemporary with the outer layer:



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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-17-2001 01:10     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
THAT'S INTERESTING, THE BLACK CORAL GROWS IN RINGS LIKE A TREE AND CAN HAVE DIFFERENT COLORS IN ITS LAYERS. BUT FROM WHAT I CAN SEE IN THE PICTURE THERE APPEARS TO BE A VISIBLE GRAIN IN THE INNER LAYER AND IT DOESN'T HAVE THE SHINE OR TRANSLUCENCY OF THE OUTER LAYER. IS THE OUTER LAYER TRANSLUCENT AND OF A REDDISH BROWN COLOR? IT MAY BE WHAT I WAS TOLD WAS FISH BONE? WHICH COULD BE FOSSIL BONE OR HORN OR SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY I STILL HAVEN'T LOCATED MY EXAMPLE. SO I CAN ONLY GUESS.

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-19-2001 06:43     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Received for posting from Maskell:




The picture above appears to be 8 of the same type as the one Lee Jones posted (center one was only put in because it has brass, inlayed with silver, slab grips but looks a bit earlier and of a different type); all have these bolster's of brass inlaid in silver, chiseled out blades, except top and third one on the right. All are clipped bowie shape like yours also.




In this picture, if the scan is clear enough, you can see a liner that may be horn between the slabs and tangs. On a lot of them there is a very thin piece of nonferrous metal on either side of the tang before the grips as noted clearly on a few with damage to the grips.




Here are the mythical birds, all have beaks and also teeth, the finial on the scabbard, unfortunately not very clear, has a ball in its mouth.

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Nick Wardigo
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posted 07-19-2001 23:33     Click Here to See the Profile for Nick Wardigo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very beautiful weapons, Maskell.

Regarding the birds with teeth, is it possible that these are depictions of the legendary roc, the giant bird from "The Arabian Nights?" Furthermore, perhaps the ball in the mouth of one is actually an egg. It's been a while since I've read my translation of "The Arabian Nights," but I seem to recall one of the Sinbad stories dealing with the roc and its eggs.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-19-2001 23:51     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
MASKELL
WHAT A GREAT COLLECTION, WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO LEARN A LOT JUST BY LOOKING AT THE VARIATIONS IN DECORATION, MATERIALS USED,AND METHODS OF CONSTRUCTION. YOUR COLLECTION IS A BONANZA OF INFORMATION, WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED THAT A COLLECTION OF THAT SIZE EXISTED OUTSIDE OF CEYLON. IF WE COULD FIND A EXPERT FROM CEYLON WITH A LARGE MUSEUM COLLECTION AT HIS DISPOSAL WE COULD GET SOME SOLID INFO. ON THE HISTORY AND USE ON THEM AS WELL. ENJOYED LOOKING AT YOUR PICTURES. HAVE YOU FOUND ONE WITH A BRONZE BLADE YET? AND HOW WAS THE BALANCE ON THE BOWIE LOOKING KNIFE?

JASUN ; HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE KNIFE WITH THE BLACK CORAL HANDLE YET I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN YOUR DESCRIPTION AND OPINION OF IT.

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 07-20-2001).]

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-24-2001 06:06     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Received for posting from Vandoo:



The phia kaetta in the center is the one with the bronze blade 17 century, hippo ivory handle. The other phia kaetta has a whale ivory handle and decoration on the blade. The third knife is the traditional knife of the Maldive Islands and has a sperm whale ivory handle.

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Jasun
Member
posted 07-27-2001 00:28     Click Here to See the Profile for Jasun     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Vandoo.
Sorry about the delay getting back to you regarding the piha kaetta enroute, as I was out of town. But it finally arrived and it is definitly an old piece.The slabs of the grip are coal black (not coral black, but coal black) and polished - no growth rings evident as normally can be seen on black coral. I examined the grips w/ a 10 power loupe & unfortunately I can not determine if the are black coral or not. For all I know they could be polished anthracite coal. I do not know of any tests that could be performed that would prove them to be black coral. Perhaps you or some of the other members might be aware some testing method I could try. I have 4 or 5 other pieces that have the same deep black polished grips. The one thing that these pieces have incommon is that they are relatively small piha kaettas W/ small grips. Possibly this is an indicator that they may be black coral as I do not believe wire coral (spiral coils) or the fan shape (Note: I have been doing some reading about black coral) grow large enough to creat pieces that could be worked into grips of the size as seen on large piha kaettas w/ ivory grips. Documentation that I have read states , overall growth of six feet in 30 to 40 years, no physical dimensions were specified. I do not believe ebony could be brought to such a high polish as these grips indicate, therefore I ruled that out. I'm open to any suggestion as as how to estabish what these grips are made of. What's your thoughts on the subject.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-27-2001 01:25     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
THE BLACK CORAL GROWS LIKE A TREE AND HAS BRANCHES AND A TRUNK WHICH CAN BE FAIRLY LARGE(I HAVE SEEN SOME AT LEAST 3 INCHES IN DIAMETER) AS I HAVE SEEN TREES 10 FOOT TALL DOWN DEEP. IT IS NOT VERY HEAVY BUT TAKES A VERY GOOD POLISH, THE GROWTH RINGS WOULD NOT SHOW IF THE SCALES FOR THE HANDLE WERE MADE FROM THE OUTSIDE OF THE ROUND TRUNK. THERE IS BLACK CORAL IN THE SEAS IN THE AREA, AND I KNOW THEY ARE USING IT FOR KNIFE HANDLE AND SHEATHS IN THE MALDIVES TODAY, SO I SEE NO REASON THAT THEY COULD NOT HAVE GOT SOME IN THE PAST. THE ONLY PROBLEM WOULD BE GETTING LARGE CHUNKS WITHOUT DIVING GEAR, ITS TOUGH YOU HAVE TO CUT IT OFF WITH A HACKSAW SO SNAGGING IT WITH A NET WOULD NOT WORK AS WELL AS WITH RED CORAL.I KNOW OF NO TEST , BUT IF YOU GO DIVING IN COZUMEL THERE ARE LOTS OF SOUVENIRS MADE FROM IT THERE. I WILL SEE IF I CAN POST SOME PICTURES OF BLACK CORAL, I HAVE A KNIFE FROM THE MALDIVES MADE OUT OF IT BUT HAVEN'T RAN ACROSS IT YET. SEE IF YOU CAN POST A PICTURE OF YOUR KNIFE, LEE HAS BEEN HELPING ME.

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Maskell
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posted 07-27-2001 02:26     Click Here to See the Profile for Maskell   Click Here to Email Maskell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks again Lee for posting my pictures. I had the pleasure of unpacking all 111 piha kaetta about a week ago, I must say I had a real enjoyable day.

Vandoo, the piha kaetta now to be forever known in my collection as the fighting piha kaetta does seems to fit that purpose more so than most of the others though like the tulwars to small of a grip to fit the hand comfortably. They must have small hands in Siri Lanka also. I do not see the tiny cracks in the ivory on the other one even under a glass. I had noticed that most of the ivory grips do not show the typical cross hatching normally seen in elephant ivory so sperm whale teeth may be the answer as that is less grainy and more dense. I remember a discussion years ago with a so-called expert that there is no difference between African and Asian elephant ivory though someone else said Asian ivory is harder. The piece with the bronze/copper blade is sure unusual, it looks like a fairly early piece. All of mine I am sure are steel but I did have one I disposed of years ago that had a silver blade, It was much like the blade on the one with the rock crystal hilt.

Jasum I am also curious about the black coral grip. The one I have a close up of the silver work has a really glossy black finish to the grips with a couple of tiny reddish spots. It also has a tiny ding that looks like it was done with a sharp object, looking at that with a glass it sure looks like horn. I really don’t know for sure.

Nick Wardigo I looked up ROC, that could be it, it seems also Marco Polo was told of a giant bird that was assumed to live on the island of Madagascar. I wonder if there is a connection.

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VANDOO
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posted 07-27-2001 11:15     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WELCOME BACK MASKELL I ENVY YOU GETTING TO UNPACK ALL THOSE PHIA KAETTA, WHAT A PLEASURE THAT WOULD BE. YOUR DESCRIPTION OF BLACK CORAL GRIPS SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT, THE LARGER PIECES OF THE BLACK CORAL TREE ARE VERY SELDOM SMOOTH ON THE OUTSIDE (LOTS OF SMALL INDENTATIONS AND BUMPS SO IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE ALL THE DIFFERENT COLOR VARIATIONS. IT TAKES A VERY SHINY POLISH LOOKS AND KIND OF FEELS LIKE PLASTIC BUT THE POLISH IS BETTER THAN PLASTIC. OF COURSE ON A HANDLE THAT HAS SEEN LOTS OF USE THE POLISH WOULD NOT BE AS GOOD DUE TO WEAR. THE IVORY EXPERT I SPOKE OF SAYS THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN ASIAN AND INDIAN ELEPHANT IVORY I WILL HAVE TO GET A COPY OF HIS BOOK ON IVORY AND READ UP SO I WILL KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR. I WILL SEE IF I CAN ADD A COUPLE OF PICTURES OF BLACK CORAL HERE SOON.

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Oriental-Arms
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posted 07-28-2001 02:48     Click Here to See the Profile for Oriental-Arms   Click Here to Email Oriental-Arms     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maskell
Two quotes on the differences between the African elephant’s Ivory to that of the Indian elephants,taken from: Fiona st. Aubyn (editor) IVORY, a History and Collectors Guide , Thames and Hudson, London 1987:

…The most prized ivory comes from Africa, where the elephants are altogether larger than the Indian spices, and both males and females bears long heavy tusks. In India, females frequently have none at all, and in Sri Lanka, even males can be tuskless…

…African Ivory is not only larger than Indian but also finer grained and richer in tone…

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RSword
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posted 07-29-2001 14:43     Click Here to See the Profile for RSword   Click Here to Email RSword     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maskell,

Absolutely a great collection. Which brings a question to mind. In collecting this form of knife, what factors lead to a collection of this size? For you, is finding a wide variety of the same form of weapon that is enjoyable, or, is it in the pursuit of education on this one form. I think edged weapon collectors, aside from other avenues of collecting, are not interested solely in the volume of one's collection but rather the variety or educational benefits from having a large collection. Would anyone agree?

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VANDOO
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posted 07-29-2001 23:09     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I WOULD AGREE,I HAVE PURSUED CERTAIN TYPES OF WEAPONS BECAUSE THERE WAS A GREAT DEAL OF VARIATION AND THEY WERE ABUNDANT AND INEXPENSIVE.( EXAMPLE, PHILIPPINE TALBION). OTHER WEAPONS I LIKE BECAUSE OF THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THEIR PEOPLE. (EXAMPLES MORO, DAYAK, NAGA, MAORI, JAPANESE, CHINESE). I DON'T COLLECT JAPANESE OR PERSIAN BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN LOTS OF COMPETITION FOR A LONG TIME WHICH EQUALS HIGH PRICES I JUST COULDN'T AFFORD TO. CULTURES WHO PRACTICED HEAD HUNTING, HUMAN SACRIFICE, OR CANNIBALISM OR WERE GREAT WARRIORS OR PIRATES HAVE A SORT OF FASCINATION TO US ALL. I AM NOT SURE WHY PERHAPS I JUST SAW TOO MANY TARZAN MOVIES AND READ TO MANY ADVENTURE BOOKS, THE MAN EATING LION IS ALWAYS MORE INTERESTING THAN JUST ANY OLD LION.

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Maskell
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posted 08-03-2001 21:44     Click Here to See the Profile for Maskell   Click Here to Email Maskell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oriental-Arms
Thanks for the quote’s regarding the difference between African and Indian elephant ivory.


Vandoo
Living in the New Bedford MA. area I should be able to get something more definitive on whale ivory, a friend who deal 19th. century nautical and handles a lot of original scrimshawed sperm whale teeth should be able to determine if some of the grips are actually whale ivory. I will bring several of my piha kaetta and see what he thinks the next time I visit.


R Sword
Why so many piha kaetta? Guess their are many reasons, the first one I bought was about 1962 when I was collecting just about anything that looked old and was cheap, it was broad bladed with a big nick in its edge and had ivory grips, I have a picture of it somewhere. I had paid $30. when keris sold for about $10. to $15. for nice ones but their were a lot more keris around than piha kaetta. I traded it off shortly after but always regretted that I did as it looked really old and was of a nice design and a pleasing shape. I also at the time found one in a dealer’s catalog (Museum of Historical Arms) that pictured and described it as a sacrificial knife from Ceylon. It wasn’t till about 10 years later on my way to the Long Island, NY. gun show I stopped at an antique shop in CT. and found the one below the monster that’s posted. At the show I found another, so after 10 years I purchased 2 in one day. In 1976 when I went full time as an antique arms dealer specializing in samurai swords a collector friend made an interesting comment, “how do you expect to be a successful dealer if you keep all the good Japanese swords and only sell the lesser ones”. He was right, when you only have junk to sell the phone stops ringing. Being a collector at heart I needed to collect something, it became piha kaetta. That same year at the Pottstown, PA. show there was a nice big piha kaetta that the seller was taking offers on, I went head to head with another dealer and finally won. I had buried myself deep but like a little kid I just wanted it to put with the other 2. Guess word got around and I started getting offers of them, was making pretty good money at the time so bought most, thinking when I get old, like now! I would have time to enjoy them, researching the whom, how, why and when of the little known piha kaetta knife. Actually I have only added 1 in the last 3 years. Being a lot more selective. Well so much for my rambling on and I would also like to hear why others in the forum collect in a certain area.

Regards,
Maskell

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Conogre
Senior Member
posted 08-06-2001 19:21     Click Here to See the Profile for Conogre   Click Here to Email Conogre     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow...I've learned more reading this thread than in all the books I've found it mentioned in so far, plus with the photos of variations in style, shape and size realize that there is a LOT more diversity than I ever imagined....to all...thank you for posting this thread.

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 08-06-2001 21:03     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Received for posting from Vandoo:





The bracelet is from the Moluccas I think. They heat it to bend it into the shape thay want. The other is a carving I am not sure where it originated. Both are black coral. On the carving note the growth rings and color. It has that brown color because it had been broken off long ago and was dead. The other branch was harvested alive and carved the carving is mostly a very shiney black but does have a little brown, it is 4 inches tall. I will post a picture of the knife from the Maldives when I find it.

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BCB
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posted 08-07-2001 03:46     Click Here to See the Profile for BCB   Click Here to Email BCB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Vandoo,

The bracelet looks to me like the so called "akabahar" (Sorry if I got the name wrong).
To my knowledge it's either made of coral or some kind of sea weed. I know they are sold quite a lot at the Mallucu's. On the island Ambon I saw a lot of them. I'm told that it prevents one who's wearing it from some diseases and/or gives them relieve. Especially with rheumatism. If it has any other spiritual meaning I don't know.

BCB

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 08-07-2001 09:38     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
THE BRACELET IS FROM AMBON AND THEY DO CALL IT SEAWEED SOMETIMES BUT IT IS A TYPE OF BLACK CORAL. I HAVE BEEN DIVING ALL OVER THE WORLD AND HAVE SEEN BLACK CORAL MANY PLACES BUT I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING WRITTEN DOWN ABOUT IT SUCH AS ARE THERE SEVERAL TYPES ? THE INFORMATION MAY EXIST BUT I HAVEN'T SEEN IT. THE FIRST PLACE I REMEMBER SEEING BLACK CORAL WAS COZUMEL, THEY STILL MAKE LOTS OF THINGS OUT OF IT THERE. THE SECOND PLACE WAS MAUI DIVERS THEY ALSO HAD GOLD CORAL WHICH LOOKED LIKE A TYPE OF BLACK CORAL SPECIES. I HAVE WANDERED OFF SUBJECT BUT I WILL SEE WHAT I CAN FIND OUT. BCB THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION ON THE BRACELET.

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 08-07-2001).]

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Maskell
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posted 08-11-2001 01:25     Click Here to See the Profile for Maskell   Click Here to Email Maskell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gentlemen, took 9 of my piha kaetta to the nautical dealer, results! None are of elephant ivory. The Monster one is definitely sperm whale tooth, the mythical bird to the right is also for sure whale tooth. The Vandoo fighting knife is definitely hippopotamus, another not pictured in this thread is also a definite hippo. There are 4 others also not pictured here he couldn’t be sure of, 3 hippo or whale teeth, the other possibly walrus. Last which was a big surprise, the one with the close up of the silver work that I thought was horn, then later because of the discussion black coral. It is actually very dark stained ivory, he thought whale but couldn’t tell for sure because of the stain and it is profusely carved. Wonder if any of the rest of the collection is elephant ivory? My hat’s off to Vandoo’s ivory expert.

Best Regards,
Maskell

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Albert van Zonneveld
Member
posted 10-22-2001 13:41     Click Here to See the Profile for Albert van Zonneveld   Click Here to Email Albert van Zonneveld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The material indeed is akar bahar, a species of coral consisting of a hard, almost black material used a.o. to make keris and rencong hilts. The term akar bahar is derived from the Arabic bahr, which means sea.
The following types of this coral are found:
a. akar bahar (Plexaura)
the most popular kind.
b. akar bahar belusop, almost only used for brooches
c. coulored or white akar bahar punyuan (Antipathes sp.), mainly used for bracelets
d. white akar bahar (Plexurella (Gorgonia) dichotoma), used for adornments.

Source: "Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago"

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Conogre
Senior Member
posted 10-22-2001 14:53     Click Here to See the Profile for Conogre   Click Here to Email Conogre     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gentlemen, having re-read this thread in toto, a possible speculation involving the pieces listed and described as "transluscent and reddish in color"....is it possible that hese might be amber, which comes in russet and orangish colors as well as the familiar yellow?

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 10-22-2001 16:07     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ON MY RECENT TRIP TO BALI I SAW TWO RENCONG THAT I SUSPECTED HAD BLACK CORAL HANDLES AND ASKED THE PEOPLE AT THE SHOP BUT THEY DIDN'T KNOW. I ALSO HAVE A PARANG THAT HAS A HANDLE OF A UNKNOWN MATERIAL POSSIBLY BLACK CORAL. WE NEED A TEST TO MAKE A DETERMINATION NOW THAT WE KNOW FOR SURE THAT IT IS AND HAS BEEN USED IN THE PAST FOR GRIPS ON WEAPONS AS WELL AS OTHER USES. DOES IT HAVE ANY SIGNIFICANCE IN THE CULTURES WHERE IT IS USED, MAGIC POWERS, ECT. IT WAS PROBABLY HARVESTED BY PEARL DIVERS IN THE PAST AS THEY WOULD HAVE NO TROUBLE GETTING DEEP ENOUGH IN THOSE WATERS AND SOMETIMES PEARL OYSTERS GROW IN THE BRANCHES IT MIGHT HAVE FIRST BEEN BROUGHT UP BECAUSE IT WAS EASIER TO SAW OFF A TREE FULL OF SHELL THAT TO GET THE SHELLS OUT INDIVIDUALLY. (THE ATTACHMENTS OF THE SHELLS AND THE CORAL ARE BOTH VERY TOUGH) JUST GUESSING CONOGRE I DON'T THINK THE GRIPS ON ANY OF THE KNIVES I HAVE SEEN HAVE AMBER IT IS PRETTY FRAGILE. I SUSPECT IT MAY BE IVORY THAT HAS BEEN DYED OR TREATED IN SOME WAY THAT HAS AGED. I HAVE A PIHA KAETTA THAT I GOT ON EBAY THAT WILL BE A SACRIFICIAL KNIFE IT IS IN VERY POOR SHAPE SO I PLAN TO TAKE IT APART AND SEE WHAT I CAN LEARN FROM SACRIFICING IT. I WILL LET YOU KNOW WHAT I FIND. (SO MUCH TO DO AND SO LITTLE TIME!) I DIDN'T REALIZE THE INFORMATION ON THE BLACK CORAL WAS FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK I HAVE ON ORDER, I AM LOOKING FORWARD EVEN MORE TO RECEIVING MY COPY OF YOUR BOOK, AND WELCOME TO THE FORUM.

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 10-22-2001).]

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