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Old 9th September 2020, 03:41 AM   #5
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Ian's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Posts: 3,342

Hi Xas,

These are four nice old Moro kampilan. A couple of them (#1, #3) have suffered from poor storage over the years and show considerable drying out of the hilts with some nasty age cracks. That's unfortunate and the hilts need a good soaking in a wood oil if these hilts are to be saved.

All of them look old, and most, if not all, could be over 100 years old. The reason I say this is because the tips of the blades show considerable wear. It's possible that some of the tip wear could be corrosion from poor storage, but the wear on the tips looks like it has resulted from use and resharpening of the blade. The youngest of the four appears to be #4 because it is the best preserved. I would say all of them a pre-19001920.

We can say with some confidence that each of these is a Moro kampilan based on the geometry and symmetry of the blades. The kampilan can be approximated to a scalene quadrilateral figure, meaning it has four straight sides of unequal length, none of which are parallel. It is a fundamental property of such figures that medial axes can be drawn such that each line is equidistant from two opposite sides. In the case of the kampilan, we can connect any two points that are equidistant from the edge and the spine and project that line to each end of the blade knowing that the spine and edge are equidistant from it along its entire length. In this manner we can examine the symmetry of the blade as it was originally created.

In the accompanying pictures, I have drawn a medial line down the length of each blade. In each case, the line passes through the end of the notch beneath the spike at the tip. I described this feature about 15 years ago on the old UBB forum, but that information is now gone. I also talked about it a few years ago on this Forum. This feature of the line passing through the notch below the spike was universally found on more than 100 kampilan that I have drawn such lines upon. This must have been intentional on the part of the panday when forging the blade, but I have seen nothing to explain the significance of this feature. Perhaps this is a feature that you and your friends in the Philippines may be able to explore further.

Incidentally, this feature is not found on other kampilan-like blades, such as the T'boli tok. The tok shows a medial line passing below the notch underneath the spike. Thus, this feature seems to distinguish Moro from non-Moro kampilan blades (although there are obviously other features as well).

Seldom does one find an absolute feature that defines a blade. This specific geometry seems to be one such example.



Attached Images

Last edited by Ian; 9th September 2020 at 04:04 AM.
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