Thread: A Very Old Kris
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Old 13th August 2012, 05:47 AM   #13
migueldiaz's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Manila, Phils.
Posts: 1,042

Originally Posted by David
Frankly Miguel, i am of the same mind as Alan here that without either a gandik or a gonjo this is not really a kris/keris.
Hi David (and all), thanks for the comments. Given the particular features of a kris/keris mentioned, then I think for the avoidance of confusion I should not call the example I posted above as a kris.

And I think the much better term for it is kalis.

Kalis for everybody's info is the ancient Philippine generic term for any war sword or war knife. The first non-Asian written account of the term [kalis] was via Magallanes & company, a term they picked up among others when they reached Cebu in 1521.

But a linguistic study of the term kalis (or karis, as 'l' and 'r' are sometimes interchangeable in almost all of Philippine dialects) will reveal that kalis as a term for war sword-knife was used all over our islands. I'm listing below the references I've personally examined, as support. In summary, the Philippine dictionaries below (spanning the period from the late-1500s to the late-1800s, and covering most the major dialects of the country), all name kalis as the equivalent of the Spanish term espada.

To recap, kalis (and not keris or kris) should be the more appropriate term to use for any ancient Philippine war sword-knife.

And from kalis sprang forth the Moro kris, the Visayan talibong, the Tagalog itak, the Bicol minasbad, the Igorot pinahig, etc. Just to clarify, the above Visayan kalis would not be the only form of the generic kalis. For sure the form factor of kalis then was as variegated as the number of dialects spoken in our islands.


BERGAÑO, Diego. Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance. 1732.

BERGAÑO, Diego. Vocabulary of the Kapampangan Language in Spanish and Dictionary of the Spanish Language in Kapampangan (translation done by Fr. Venancio Q. Samson for the Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts). Holy Angel University Press. Pampanga. 2007.

CARRO, Andres. Vocabulario de la Lengua Ilocana. Manila. 1849.

COWIE, Wm. Clark. English-Sulu-Malay Vocabulary. London. 1893.

ENCARNACION, Juan Felix de la. Diccionario Bisaya-Español. Manila. 1851.

HASSAN, Irene U.; ASHLEY, Seymour A.; & ASHLEY, Mary L. Tausug-English Dictionary. Summer Institute of Linguistics. Manila. 1994.

LISBOA, Marcos de. Vocabulario de la Lengua Bicol … . Pueblo de Sampaloc. 1754.

McKAUGHAN, Howard P. & MACARAYA, Batua A. A Maranao Dictionary. Univ. of Hawaii Press. 1967.

MENTRIDA, Alonso de. Diccionario de la Lengua Bisaya, Hiligueina y Haraya [Hiligaynon at Kinaray-a]. 1637.

JUANMARTI, Jacinto. Diccionario Moro-Maguindanao-Español. Manila. 1892.

NOCEDA, Juan de y SANLUCAR, Pedro de. Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala [Tagalog], compuesto por varios religiosos doctor y graves … . Manila. 1754 [Reimpreso en Manila. Imprenta de Ramirez y Giraudier. 1860]

PIGAFETTA, Antonio. Magellan’s Voyage – A Narrative Account of the First Circumnavigation. Yale University. 1969.

_________. [Magellan’s Voyage ...] From the Ambrosiana [Italian] Codex, and translated to English by James Roberston, in ‘Blair & Robertson’, Vol. 1 No. 33.

_________. [Magellan’s Voyage ...] From the Nancy-Libri-Phillipps-Beinecke-Yale [French] Codex.

SAN BUENA VENTURA, Pedro de. Vocabulario de Lengua Tagala [Tagalog] – El Romance Castellano Puesto Primero. Con licencia Impreso en la noble Villa de Pila [Laguna], Por Thomas Pinpin, y Domingo Loag. Tagalos. Año de 1613.

SANCHEZ, Matheo. Vocabulario de la Lengua Bisaya [Waray]. Manila. 1711.

SANTOS, Domingo de los. Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala [Tagalog] … . 1703.
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