Join Date: Oct 2018
Originally Posted by Ian
Thanks for the interesting thoughts and information from your sources. As far as panabas used as weapons on the battlefield, I seem to recall that Captain Pershing's expeditions in the Lake Lanao region during the early 1900s reported the use of the panabas on the battlefield, and may have collected examples as battlefield pickups. I will try to find the reports of those expeditions. I think related materials were deposited with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Krieger's publication by the Smithsonian (see elsewhere on this site for the figures/plates from that publication) might show some of the Pershing collection.
In support of the panabas as a battlefield weapon, I own a plain example with an old blade guard made from a grooved length of carved wood about an inch wide running the length of the cutting edge, that is held in place by a narrow piece of cloth wrapped around the blade and guard several times. This arrangement seems designed for transporting the panabas rather than using it for ceremonial or judicial purposes. Occasional wooden sheaths made of two pieces of wood held together by light rattan strips are also found. The main function of sheaths/scabbards are to facilitate transportation of the weapon. I have also heard from contacts in Mindanao that the panabas was carried into battle wrapped in cloth—however, my contacts were not Moros.
The padsumbalin panabas seems particularly well suited for combat, often being double-edged. I have a couple of these that are lighter than most other versions of the panabas.
Use of the panabas as a "mop-up" weapon has been reported, notably by Robert Cato in his book Moro Weapons, and others have made similar comments. However, I don't know of an historical reference to support that function. As you note, swords would have been equally effective. My earlier comment about its use as a "mop-up" weapon was based on these sources, but I have no hard evidence to support that use.
Noted on this, sir. One of my BangsaMoro friends- a former member of this forum, and I believe the foremost expert on PH traditional blades- has expressed doubts regarding the accuracy of Cato's information. The Moros would not readily give up information on their culture or weaponry; in effect, Mr Cato may very well have been told tall tales. I agree some panabas were built for transport, but not as battlefield weapons; rather, as intimidation tools, a sign of potency of a ranking Moro chieftain that would be transported and displayed along with his retinue of best warriors. My evidence for this are the junggayan-style barungs- yes, they were sharp and had functional scabbards, but they aren't the go-to weapons during battle; they served better as status indicator and intimidation tool. Same goes for other BangsaMoro weapons with elaborate designs- the reason for their preservation was that they were never really in the fray.