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Old 11th August 2012, 01:14 PM   #1
Spunjer
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Default A Very Old Kris

'found this nice little piece a couple weeks ago at the local gunshow. i thought it was neat in that it has a miniature pommel and shorter than usual blade. i would say this particular kris could be classified under "archaic".
looking back at the old threads, this has been discussed before:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=241

when i first saw it, i thought the pommel was a bit unusual; thinking it was some type of wood. it didn't have stirrups, and the handle was actually pretty wobbly.
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Old 11th August 2012, 01:37 PM   #2
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there were a few things that was intriguing about this particular kris. one, it doesn't have an asang2x. that, by itself is no big deal, since we've seen krises missing these parts before. but the weird thing about this is, it appears that it never had an asang2x before. asang2x are normally attached one of two ways: outside the ferrule; which is then wrapped, or inside the ferrule, which you would normally see an indentation mark on the wooden part of the handle.
since the handle was slightly loose, i decided to disassemble the whole thing. as you can see, there's no mark anywhere on the wooden part of the handle that it has an asang2x before. the ferrule looked relatively snug to the wood part, and it doesn't have an indentation mark usually left by a strip of metal anywhere. perhaps the handle could also be a later addition, in which the owner decided to disregard the asang2x.
another pleasant surprise was the tang. theoretically, the oldest moro krises has round tang, similar to their indonesian counterparts. this one is an almost round, squarish actually, but still, it would have the possibility of spinning if it didn't have any stirrups to hold it in place.
looking closely at the blade closest to the gangya, there's a very faint mark that it might have had a asang2x before, but it wasn't there long enough to leave an indentation or discoloration. was this particular kris then, during the transitional stage mentioned in the old threads?
discuss...

p.s.
only part i've worked on so far was the pommel, and yes, it's ivory..
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Old 11th August 2012, 01:53 PM   #3
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Wow, nice find Ron. Maybe a "missing link" of sorts.
Too bad that the the "elephant trunk" has lost the tip of it's trunk, but then, who cares with a find like this.
I need to go to more gun shows...
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Old 11th August 2012, 03:39 PM   #4
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Very nice archaic blade! And beautiful patinated ivory pommel. Wouldn't be so sure that it never have had minimum one asang. The wrapped part of the handle seems modified at some point of it's history. Do you plan to give it a sheath?

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 11th August 2012, 06:11 PM   #5
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Great and interesting find! Great to find a tang like this.

I wonder if it had an asang-asang originally but early on was taken off.
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Old 12th August 2012, 02:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Too bad that the the "elephant trunk" has lost the tip of it's trunk...

yeah, i was hoping it was intact. i'm always curious about those trunks on older krises; they have a certain look...

Quote:
Do you plan to give it a sheath?

hello detlef. no, i'm just gonna leave it au naturel, but if i'm always keeping an eye for original scabbards. hopefully, i'll come across for something that would fit this.

Quote:
I wonder if it had an asang-asang originally but early on was taken off.


i'm with you on this jose. but it appears to be that after it was removed, no one bothered to replace it. my thinking was, at that point, asang2x was probably a novelty somewhat
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Old 12th August 2012, 04:19 PM   #7
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Also it more difficult to replace one than one might imagine (believe me I've done it plenty of times).
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Old 12th August 2012, 04:38 PM   #8
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very interesting, ron! thanks.

i'm particularly intrigued by the tang's square to semi-round cross section, because this 10th to 15th century visayan kris which was discussed somewhat extensively here in the forum already shows a square cross section (see illustration below).

on the other hand, i don't doubt the antiquity of the kris above.

but i'm no expert on krises. hence this visayan kris is being shown just for additional inputs ...
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Old 12th August 2012, 04:55 PM   #9
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for another quick reference, here's a 10th to 13th century northern mindanao gold hilt, where we see the 'elephant trunk' motif.

but my personal belief is that it's a bird's beak-mouth, given that the overall motif of philippine hilts then revolved around the sun, fire, and bird imagery (which all stem from our ancient ancestors' religion).

but anyways, the aim of this post is to merely show that that particular feature, whatever that is, has long been there (i.e., as early as 10th to 13th century).
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Old 12th August 2012, 04:59 PM   #10
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Nice find. Congrats.

I scour the local gun shows hoping to find such treasures....maybe one day....

It looks like your recent find hasn't gone thru a lot of sharpening, the blade looks like it still has a lot of meat. Wasn't used much or captured early on in it's life..puzzles, like the asang -asang. If they could only talk.
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Old 12th August 2012, 05:04 PM   #11
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here's some more of those sun/fire/bird-themed hilts, also from 10th to 13th century northern mindanao ...

but i'm still figuring out how all these much older forms relate to ron's nice archaic kris
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Old 12th August 2012, 07:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by migueldiaz
very interesting, ron! thanks.

i'm particularly intrigued by the tang's square to semi-round cross section, because this 10th to 15th century visayan kris which was discussed somewhat extensively here in the forum already shows a square cross section (see illustration below).

on the other hand, i don't doubt the antiquity of the kris above.

but i'm no expert on krises. hence this visayan kris is being shown just for additional inputs ...

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.
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Old 13th August 2012, 06:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
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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Old 13th August 2012, 12:27 PM   #14
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i was driving home last night when i was reading the responses.

what lorenz said, david. it might not be the keris as you know it, but nevertheless, it's the term that was used in the archipelago since time immemorial. as an example, when someone hear the term "parang", one automatically thinks it refer to a particular indonesian sword, which is in a way correct, but that same exact term is still used in some parts of sulu. it might not be the parang as we know it, but it is what it is...
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Old 13th August 2012, 01:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spunjer
... it's the term that was used in the archipelago since time immemorial. as an example, when someone hear the term "parang", one automatically thinks it refer to a particular indonesian sword, which is in a way correct, but that same exact term is still used in some parts of sulu. it might not be the parang as we know it, but it is what it is...
ron, right on the money.

thus insofar as our dear departed superancestors are concerned, all of those war swords and knives of ours are collectively called kalis or karis. and we use these terms up to this day.

and our indonesian cousins call them keris, as we all know.

another example is the the philippine term for weapon in general, sandata, which is senjata in indonesian. again, the terms are cognates.

actually even the indonesian term parang has an equivalent term in our dialects up to now -- the pampangos still use palang to refer to the same thing.

and parang & palang are the same essentially because we also know that in our languages 'l' and 'r' are sometimes interchangeable: multo-murto; talibong-taribong; lanaw-ranaw; balangay-barangay; ilanun-iranun; kulitan-kuritan; lugal-lugar; tulogan-torogan; baloto-baroto; sulat-surat; puliran-pulilan; miro-milo (pusa); parakol-palakol, etc.

going back to the question on when the first philippine kris came about (i.e., the moro form), i'd like to present four slides lifted from my presentation on a related subject to a local historical society.

here's the first slide, and i'd like to point out the following:

[1] the oldest local war knife-sword i know is the visayan (from argao, cebu) piece on the leftmost side of the slide; it was dated by karl hutterer (an american archeologist who dug it up in the 1970s) as early iron age, which would be about 500 to 400 b.c. if i'm not mistaken;

[2] we can see that this turned out to be a classical blade profile, as for the next 2,500 years, the leaf-shaped symmetrical blade with bifurcated pommel never died;

[3] however for the gold-hilted daggers in the center (10th to 13th century a.d.), i'm not quite sure whether their blades are leaf-shaped also -- but some other examples from the same age range have the leaf-shaped blade for sure;

[4] now i don't think there's something special about this blade shape, as the same shape is also found in the engravings in angkor wat, in the old temples in indonesia, etc.

so what's my point? ... well, i'm actually still figuring it out
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Old 13th August 2012, 02:02 PM   #16
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as an aside, so when did we [in our islands] start calling kalis-karis as kris? i think this is just recently -- and as far as i know, kris as a term first appeared only in the 1890s, in cowie's sulu-malay-english dictionary in particular.

thanks by the way to the person who pointed me to this cowie book -- yo, you know who you are!

then in capt. woodard's account of his imprisonment in sulawesi (celebes) by malay 'pirates' in the 1790s, 'cress' was mentioned as the local term for sword (see below, and note that the sulawesi kris has a rather curious placement of the half-wavy portion of the blade -- but the birdie was already there on the pommel).

back to our shores, in the 1700s spanish dictionaries of local dialects, we don't find the term kris. rather, it's always kalis or karis.

thus in conclusion, i think it's safe then to really call the pre-moro kris (as well as the excavated artifacts i showed above from other parts of the country), as kalis.

p.s. - but how did karis become kris? as in many languages, contractions happen. for cebuanos out there for instance, they can easily cite gayud, which became gyud over the decades, and now jud.
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Old 13th August 2012, 02:16 PM   #17
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Here's the 2nd slide, i.e., various Filipino costumes, from the 1590 Boxer Codex. Note that it appears that everywhere in Luzon (northern Philippines) and the Visayas (central Phils.), the same symmetrical blade with bifurcated hilt was used.

On the one hand, one can become suspicious as to whether the painter just became lazy and thus painted the same sword type over and over again.

On the other hand, the painter's attention to details (on the dress, accessories, etc.) tends to negate that apprehension.

In any case, I think the point is that for a long time as far as our country is concerned, it looks like there's some homogeneity in sword design. Perhaps they figured that if it ain't broke, then one should not fix it.
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Old 13th August 2012, 02:25 PM   #18
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Then almost a hundred years later, in the Visayas as recorded by the Spanish priest Alcina, the same sword design persisted.

Pls. note that the design is almost identical to Hutterer's Early Iron Age Cebu dagger, especially the 'ice pick' on the hilt's pommel -- and this after about 2,000 years!

As a side note, the placement of the sword on the right side of the waist makes sense then. Because if one were to hold the hilt with the right hand as if holding an ice pick (and not as if holding a hammer), then a quick strike to the enemy can easily be made with said 'ice pick'.
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Old 13th August 2012, 02:49 PM   #19
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But in the midst of said homogeneity in sword design for at least 1,000 to 1,500 years (i.e., from 500 to 400 BC [the Argao, Cebu dagger], till the 10th to 15th century [the Bohol kalis, per below and above]), suddenly we see a branching off -- that is, the Bohol kalis with an assymetrical axis, and with guard with 'blade catchers'.

Hence to my mind, this Bohol kalis appears to be the granddaddy that eventually morphed into the more popular form of the kris, which is the Moro kris.

Of course things did not happen in isolation. Philippines and Indonesia (and Malaysia) are archipelagos. And thus their borders leak like a sieve. In fact perhaps there's not much concept of borders then.

And Ron has already pointed out to us before that the 900 A.D. Laguna [Luzon] Copperplate Inscription is a fine example of the cross-pollination that's happening then -- the inscription was written in a combination of Old Tagalog [i.e., Luzon], Old Javanese, and Old Malay.

To recap, my tentative conclusion then is that the [Bohol] kalis I first posted above appears to be the proto-Philippine kris.

And to my mind, the other missing link that we need to find is a subsequent kalis which developed a gandik -- and at that point, perhaps that could very well be the first Philippine kris.

Now going back to the porous nature of the political boundaries between what will become Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, would anybody know when the first keris with gandik appeared? as in what century?

That would then provide a reference as to the time the Phil. kalis may have incorporated the gandik into the crossguard. We have to remember though that that feature per se (i.e., the 'elephant trunk') already appeared in the hilt of Philippine swords, as early as the 10th to 13th century. Thus, it's more of an issue of the timing of the movement from the hilt, to the guard ...
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Old 13th August 2012, 05:14 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by migueldiaz
Now going back to the porous nature of the political boundaries between what will become Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, would anybody know when the first keris with gandik appeared? as in what century?

That would then provide a reference as to the time the Phil. kalis may have incorporated the gandik into the crossguard. We have to remember though that that feature per se (i.e., the 'elephant trunk') already appeared in the hilt of Philippine swords, as early as the 10th to 13th century. Thus, it's more of an issue of the timing of the movement from the hilt, to the guard ...

In Javanese terms the "gandik" is not the "elephant trunk". That would be the "kembang kacang" in the diagrams you posted above. While this feature seems to be present in all Moro kris it is not a necessary feature on the Indonesian keris, but the gandik is.
As for this so-called "elephant trunk" feature on Moro kris, my feeling about it's intention is that sometimes it is supposed to be an elephant, sometimes a bird and sometimes even a naga. I have examples that clearly show all three of these forms. Just as it's Indonesian cousin comes in a variety of animal motifs (elephant, naga, singo, etc.) in the kembang kacang, so i believe does the Moro kris.
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Old 14th August 2012, 08:14 AM   #21
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lorenz, thanks for the excellent mini-dissertation! question tho: do you know if those gold handles have round or rectangular holes? i was wondering if you ever seen the exhibit in person. as far as the bohol kris having a rectangular tang vs. the above kris having a squarish/round tang: this is indeed an enigma. hard to believe one evolved/devolved from the other. like Kino said:

Quote:
..puzzles, like the asang -asang. If they could only talk.


daghang salamat, bai!

on the sidenote:
on that vocabulary by cowie, interesting how the Suluanons back in 1893 has 8 different terms for a kalis tulid and 7 different ones for the kalis lanteh... wonder why the term seko/taluseko wasn't used???
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Old 14th August 2012, 04:37 PM   #22
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Great thread, guys. I was going to put the thread Ron linked to in his first post in the classics, but this one is heading there...
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Old 15th August 2012, 03:52 AM   #23
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I will also make one more note. Antonio de Morga in the 1600s wrote about his travels in the region. In his section on the Philippines, he gives a poor description but mentions the "unusual" form of what the natives call a balarao. This term is still used at the turn of the century for the Mandayan dagger like this one from my collection below:
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Old 15th August 2012, 05:44 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
In Javanese terms the "gandik" is not the "elephant trunk". That would be the "kembang kacang" in the diagrams you posted above. While this feature seems to be present in all Moro kris it is not a necessary feature on the Indonesian keris, but the gandik is.
As for this so-called "elephant trunk" feature on Moro kris, my feeling about it's intention is that sometimes it is supposed to be an elephant, sometimes a bird and sometimes even a naga. I have examples that clearly show all three of these forms. Just as it's Indonesian cousin comes in a variety of animal motifs (elephant, naga, singo, etc.) in the kembang kacang, so i believe does the Moro kris.
David, thanks for the comments. As for Moro swords, I agree that the 'elephant trunk' can represent both naga and bird. I'm not too sure though that in the Moro context, it can also mean an elephant. And it's because historically, there were no elephants in the our islands.

We used to have stegodons in the distant past (based on fossils found). But no elephants then, and now. Well, actually there used to a few (imported) elephants in Sulu, after the ruler of Java in 1395 gifted the Sultan of Sulu with Javanese elephants. This is according to Saleeby (1908), based on written accounts of the Moros (the tarsilah). More on this story can be found here.

On a related matter, Alcina in his 1668 epic work on the history of the Visayas included the elephant as part of the region's fauna. So maybe they also came from Sulu.

So on second thoughts, perhaps the elephant is after all a possible interpretation also of the 'elephant trunk'.

But I think the more important thing we can glean from the above story is that Java and Sulu, and Java and Manila (900 AD, per the LCI), have been corresponding with each other for the longest time.

And for Java to gift Sulu something means that Sulu must have enjoyed some prominence even in those earlier times.

So I think I'll just end this rambling by saying that presumably, the sword designs of each region (Java, Brunei, Sulu, Manila, Cebu, etc.) must have somehow influenced each other, given the close ties among them.
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Old 15th August 2012, 06:26 PM   #25
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ron, your question on the tang shape kept me thinking all day long.

and so i spent the whole morning (wed.) reviewing those ancient gold hilts at the two museums here in manila. and then i have to dig up hutterer's findings on those cebu daggers that's about a thousand years older.

and here i am still pounding away at the keyboard at 1:00 am the following day. therefore, you owe me a drink of sarsi and a lot of popcorn!

so let's start with the oldest one -- figure 2b according to hutterer is 'early iron age'. iron age in the country is between 500 bc to 900 ad. thus let's say '2b' is 500 to 100 bc. as we can see, the tang appears to be cylindrical.

fast forward to about a thousand years later -- figure 2a per hutterer also, is from "the first millennium a.d. ... [up to the] late 9th century to early 10th century a.d.". and what i think i see is a hexagonal tang. and the hexagonal cross-section appears to carry through, up to the beginning of the blade's forte. these scientific illustrations are pretty accurate. thus i think the hexagon we are seeing is real.

next up are the 10th to 13th century gold hilts ...
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Old 15th August 2012, 06:32 PM   #26
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these gold hilts i'll show are all from the 10th to 13th century a.d. and these gold hilts constitute the 'universe', meaning there's no other 10th to 13th c. gold hilts that can found (except those in private collection, but i suppose they are fewer).

the first one exhibits a rectangular hole in the hilt, hence a rectangular tang.
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Old 15th August 2012, 06:34 PM   #27
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the 2nd hilt's tang opening can't be seen from the way it's displayed at the museum. i think next time i'll bring a mirror and a flashlight, to get that angle where we can see what we need to see.
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Old 15th August 2012, 06:37 PM   #28
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next up are these two 'hilts', in which one has a circular hole for the tang, while the other has a rectangular hole where the tang passes.

i put quote marks on the word hilt above, because i have doubts whether these are hilts at all. but for the time being, let's go by what the museum says.
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Old 15th August 2012, 06:39 PM   #29
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now this is a real nice gold hilt. and the tang hole is clearly a square.
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Old 15th August 2012, 06:41 PM   #30
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the tang hole in this one is unique -- it's triangular!
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