Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Robert 22nd November 2010 11:42 PM

New Bolo
11 Attachment(s)
Well, This has finally arrived. I was really starting to worried that it had gotten lost in the mail. A late 19th to early 20th century Philippine bolo with a nicely carved carabao grip in the shape of a clenched fist. The finely carved but damaged scabbard is made of a dark wood with wire bands (most of which are replacements) holding the two sides together. I cannot make out the writing carved around the hilt but it looks like SON?-APALIT?-PAMP?-CASTRO Any help with filling in what the missing worn letters might be and the meaning would be greatly appreciated. Measurements below.

Total Length = 25 inches
Blade Length = 18 inches
Blade At Thickest = 5/16 inch
Hilt Length = 7 inches

I am going to try to upload the pictures one at a time so that they might stay in order so please be patient as this might take a while. I will also be adding pictures of the scabbard.


Robert 23rd November 2010 12:00 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Here are a few pictures of the scabbard. All comments are welcome.


Rick 23rd November 2010 12:45 AM

Pampangas ??

Battara 23rd November 2010 02:18 AM

Well, by blade alone I would steer away from Pampangan. However, the fist and carving look good, so I might hesitantly say pre-1900. The hilt is made of worn horn (hey that rhymes :D ) and the scabbard is made of narra wood. Unique piece. Where do you keep coming up with this stuff? :confused:

nacho 23rd November 2010 04:27 AM

I think the scabbard is made of Balayong wood. Its deep purple color is highly prized for making furnitures. The wood is no longer available. High end furnitures made of Balayong wood were made in Pampanga up to the very early 1900s.

Battara 23rd November 2010 09:22 PM

Balayang wood - not familiar with it. I was basing my thoughts on the red coloration. Interesting.........

Robert 24th November 2010 01:28 AM

Hello everyone and thank you for your replies.

Thank you for the link. One of the first things I did when this arrived and I found the words carved into the hilt was to do a google search on them and the link you posted was one of the first that I checked out.

Yes, the hilt is of worn horn :D and I am very happy to hear you think it might be pre 1900. To answer your question "Where do you keep coming up with this stuff?" believe me when I say it is purely by accident or just plain dumb luck, I'm not sure which.:D

Like Jose I have never heard of Balayong wood. The color of this wood is very dark, almost like teak but with like you say "a deep purple color" to it. It looks more reddish in the photos because of the flash.

Now if someone can tell me the meaning of the words carved into the hilt I would be happy.:D I know from the Wikipedia link mentioned by Rick that Apalit is a municipality in the province of Pampanga and was supposedly named after the Apalit tree also known as the Narra the National tree of the Philippines. (This is something I had not known before but interesting none the less.) I do not know if PAMP is supposed to represent Pampanga ? After looking at the carving SON in sunlight with the help of a magnifying glass I think that there might be one more letter "though it is worn almost completely away" that might be an S making the word SONS ? Castro I am guessing might have been the owners name or the writing in total might be a tribute to that person?:confused: All help will be greatly appreciated.


Reichsritter 24th November 2010 06:54 AM

Hi Robert-

A Kapangpangan (a local of Pampanga) friend told me that Apalit is known for bolos, knives and anything metal (rakes, spade hoes etc.). It even have a barangay (local community) called "Capalangan" "Palang" a generic term for knives or bolo. My guess is Castro & Sons of Apalit Pampanga is one of the old home businesses around Apalit that make these domestic metal products.

Battara 24th November 2010 10:35 AM

Thanks Reicsritter, that would make a lot of sense......

Robert 24th November 2010 12:30 PM

Thank you very much. Like Jose said "that would make a lot of sense......". If this is the case, it will be the first time I have seen one of these marked in this way by the maker. Has anyone else seen or have an item from the Philippines that has been marked by the maker in this fashion ? In the mean time I have found that this has a laminated blade and because of my poor picture taking ability I will try doing an etch on it later hopefully to bring it out enough so I might be able to get a few good pictures to post. Again my thank for all the help so far.


Sajen 30th October 2015 02:38 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Just have won a very similar Apalit bolo, I guess that it is from the same time frame as the one from Robert, this one has a blonde horn handle without the inscription Robert's bolo has and a leather scabbard instead of a wooden one. Here some pictures from the seller. Robert, hope it's ok that I hijack your thread.


Battara 31st October 2015 12:51 AM

Congratulations Sajen! Albino horn is harder to find. Nice carving too.

Robert 31st October 2015 01:45 AM

Hello Detlef, I am very happy to see that you were the one who won this great bolo. The auction photos of this piece were not the best I have ever seen so I am really looking forward to seeing more and hopefully better ones after it arrives. My congratulations to you on being able to add this rare piece to your collection.


carlos 31st October 2015 09:22 AM

Congratulations! Is a very beautiful piece !! Im sure bolo is very happy in his new home !!

Best regards

Sajen 31st October 2015 10:47 AM

Thank you all three for the kind words. :)

Jose, would you agree with my age guess?

Robert, will post some better pictures when I have received it.

Carlos, yes, I am sure that it will be happy with it's new friends. ;)


Spunjer 31st October 2015 10:55 AM

congrats, Detlef!

Sajen 31st October 2015 12:41 PM

Originally Posted by Spunjer
congrats, Detlef!

Thank you Ron! :)

Battara 31st October 2015 06:59 PM

I'd agree to your age estimate, more with late 19thc.

Sajen 31st October 2015 11:42 PM

Originally Posted by Battara
I'd agree to your age estimate, more with late 19thc.

Thank you Jose! :)

Best regards,

Sajen 23rd March 2016 09:18 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Just finished cleaning the blade from rust. Here some hopeful better pictures.

Sajen 23rd March 2016 09:22 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Some close up's

Sajen 23rd March 2016 09:27 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Thickness at the base nearly 1 cm --- 0.4'!

Battara 23rd March 2016 10:38 PM

Great work! Nice piece!

Sajen 23rd March 2016 10:43 PM

Originally Posted by Battara
Great work! Nice piece!

Thank you Jose! :)

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