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Old 9th June 2017, 02:20 AM   #1
alexish
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Default New Moro Kris Sheaths and handles for Comments

I hereby enclose some newly-made Moro Kris sheaths and handles for comments. Please also feel free to comment on the blades.
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Old 9th June 2017, 01:21 PM   #2
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Hello Alexis,

Welcome to the forum!

The piece with the fittings from light wood is a khukuri(-type) blade (dressed in pseudo-Moro fittings).

It would be good to see larger pics of all other blades including a close-up of the base of the blade.

I'm afraid that the fittings (and possibly blades) are not Moro but rather originate from Indonesia: Probably Madurese carvers - where did you obtain these?

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Kai
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Old 9th June 2017, 02:57 PM   #3
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Yes, I commissioned these sheaths from Indonesia. The blades were all sourced from the USA, through ebay.

Just wanted to hear comments on how closely these sheaths conform to authentic Moro designs and motifs.
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Old 9th June 2017, 06:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
The blades were all sourced from the USA, through ebay.


Also the khukuri blade? From your picture it looks rather Indonesian to my eyes! Never seen a khukuri blade with pamor before!
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Old 9th June 2017, 06:41 PM   #5
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Frankly said I have a strange feeling by this thread and wouldn't like to comment on how closely these sheaths conform to authentic Moro designs and motifs.

See please also here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=22787 & http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=22798 & http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=22807 & http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=22790
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Old 9th June 2017, 06:47 PM   #6
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Hello Alexis,

Not at all, I'm afraid! There is a vague similarity in some details and way off in many others, sorry...

If you want a Moro scabbard, you really need to reach out to Bangsamoro craftsmen (and skilled ones are not easy to find). While the Philippines have their share of gruesome fantasy fittings and pieces, there are some pieces coming out of Mindanao which have reasonable, newly made fittings. An ebay search for Davao should turn up something, I guess.

You can also contact forumites Jose Albovias or Philip Tom who have done quite a few scabbards from scratch for nekkid blades.

With both approaches it will get more expensive the more you insist on a traditional high-quality dress, obviously.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 9th June 2017, 06:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Also the khukuri blade? From your picture it looks rather Indonesian to my eyes! Never seen a khukuri blade with pamor before!

Thanks, Detlef! Indid not saw the pamor on a smaller screen...
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Old 9th June 2017, 07:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
Just wanted to hear comments on how closely these sheaths conform to authentic Moro designs and motifs.

Only in superficial ways. No one with any knowledge of Moro weapons would think this is authentic (even modern) Moro workmanship.

Last edited by David : 9th June 2017 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 9th June 2017, 10:54 PM   #9
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Default Are these traditional Moro designs and motifs?

I hereby attach pictures of the original Moro handles and sheaths that inspired my new Sarungs.

Can someone comment on whether these are traditional Moro designs and motifs? Or are these a modern artistic expression?
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Old 9th June 2017, 11:15 PM   #10
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Default Pseudo-Moro Khukri

Additionally, I also attach pictures of the original designs that inspired the new sarung for the Pseudo-Moro Khukri. Are these authentic traditional Moro designs and motifs, or a more recent artistic expression?
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Old 9th June 2017, 11:47 PM   #11
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Hi Alexish:

Several people have noted that these are not decorated in the traditional Moro manner. However, I like the carving. Although somewhat "over-embellished" on a couple, at least for my taste, I can appreciate the skill that goes into these carvings and the finish that has been applied to the various woods.

While some of them are Moro-like objects, they would not pass for items from the original culture. I think many people noticed quickly that these were of Indonesian style and manufacture. An interesting interpretation of the original forms—art craft.

Thanks for showing us these pieces.

Ian.
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Old 10th June 2017, 07:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
I hereby attach pictures of the original Moro handles and sheaths that inspired my new Sarungs.

Can someone comment on whether these are traditional Moro designs and motifs? Or are these a modern artistic expression?



Hello Alexish,

The first three photos show modern pieces but they are examples of what are currently the highest quality products from the town of Tugaya in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao. Tugaya is the traditional home of the best Maranao craftsmen so your examples (post #9) are authentic Moro pieces.

For your reference, attached is a photo of a modern kris and gunong that I purchased in Davao City last year. While not as nice as the examples you provided, you will notice some similarities in the details.

May I request for a close up of the kris blade in your first picture (post #1)? I think it looks interesting.

I hope this comment is helpful.

Fernando
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Old 10th June 2017, 09:10 AM   #13
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Default Close up of blade

Dear Fernando,

I hereby enclose a close-up of my blade.

Do you have any cooments on my new kris sheaths?

Hope you can comment on 2 areas:

1) Aesthetics of the entire sheath.

2) How close these sheaths conform to traditional Moro design, and whether they would be considered as Moro in the Philippines.
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Old 10th June 2017, 10:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Additionally, I also attach pictures of the original designs that inspired the sarung for the Pseudo-Moro Khukri. Are these authentic traditional Moro designs and motifs, or a more recent artistic expression?

Actually, this hilt is the only modern version with reasonable craftmanship shown (while he also offers the gaudy modern examples, this seller seems to have contacts to artisans who are able to do decent work) and based on a traditional style; however, if one compares this modern example with antique pieces, there is a considerable difference in quality as well as in details like ukkil!

The MOP scabbard tip is a later development (approx. mid-20th century) and again this rather gaudy motif got changed by the Indo carvers and now looks even more flowery and the MOP also got dropped...

While the fittings of this pseudo Khukuri are IMHO the best effort, it is blatantly obvious, that these are not genuine Moro style, especially nothing remotely approaching traditional styles, sorry.

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Kai
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Old 10th June 2017, 11:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
I hereby attach pictures of the original Moro handles and sheaths that inspired my new Sarungs.

Can someone comment on whether these are traditional Moro designs and motifs? Or are these a modern artistic expression?

Thanks, I now see where the results are coming from.

None of your examples is traditional, old Moro style - the shapes are rather flowery and the ukkil/okir motifs tend to be off.

When you give these examples to the Indonesian carvers, they don't understand the Moro motifs and add another layer of confusion including even more flowery artistic expression. It is possible to see what example they tried to emulate but the result is just way off. IMNSHO that is...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 10th June 2017, 11:58 PM   #16
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Hello Fernando,

Quote:
they are examples of what are currently the highest quality products from the town of Tugaya in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao. Tugaya is the traditional home of the best Maranao craftsmen so your examples (post #9) are authentic Moro pieces.

I beg to differ: While there certainly is still quite a bit of talent in Tugaya, I believe there has been a general shift from genuine, traditional Moro design to modern, artistic designs during the last, say, 50 years or so. Often enough the ukkil/okir and other motifs appear to be corrupted and, especially, the flow of lines is off. Moreover, in the 50 years before this, we saw a strong decline in Moro craftsmanship (and general decline of economy as well as effects of US/Japanese/Filipino influence throughout Bangsamoro).

I believe most modern pieces are a far cry compared to antique pieces, especially those from well into the 19th century and before...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 11th June 2017, 12:18 AM   #17
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Hello Alexis,

Quote:
I hereby enclose a close-up of my blade.

Thanks - I'd like to see larger pics though, especially of the base of the blade!

I'm afraid there's something off here...


The other blades would certainly be of interest, too. TIA!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 11th June 2017, 12:53 AM   #18
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I guess they could be modern interpretations of old Moro forms into recent custom knife making.............
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Old 11th June 2017, 01:45 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Hello Fernando,


I beg to differ: While there certainly is still quite a bit of talent in Tugaya, I believe there has been a general shift from genuine, traditional Moro design to modern, artistic designs during the last, say, 50 years or so. Often enough the ukkil/okir and other motifs appear to be corrupted and, especially, the flow of lines is off. Moreover, in the 50 years before this, we saw a strong decline in Moro craftsmanship (and general decline of economy as well as effects of US/Japanese/Filipino influence throughout Bangsamoro).

I believe most modern pieces are a far cry compared to antique pieces, especially those from well into the 19th century and before...

Regards,
Kai


Hello Kai,

Point well taken. But allow me to clarify what I meant by my statement that what were shown are "authentic Moro pieces." The present artisans of Tugaya are descended, by family and tradition, from the artisans who made what are now genuine collectible Moro antiques. The items shown on post #9 are therefore made in the traditional center of Maranao crafts by Moro (Maranao) artisans. That was what I meant by "authentic Moro."

It is true that in terms of style and quality, they are not at par with "antique" (for emphasis) Moro pieces but what we are observing is the outcome of a continuing but evolving tradition. Modern/contemporary examples we have seen are therefore still authentic Moro but reflective of contemporary tastes and circumstances.

Sadly, the "highest quality products" today are not at par with the best of the past. This decline in quality is also reflective of present conditions in Moro land. In fact, right now, Marawi City where many products of the town of Tugaya are sold, is being bombarded by government troops because of an attempt by terrorist group to take over. I do not know if this has been reported in Western media but parts of Marawi now are reminiscent of Syria. It is already a poverty stricken region and the war will aggravate this.

I cancelled my visit to Tugaya last December because of a crossfire between terrorist groups and government forces. I was about to visit this month (June) but again had to cancel because the access point to the town (Marawi City) is a warzone and under martial law. I've never been to that part of the Philippines and I'm sure it won't be the same had I gone there a year earlier. I can only imagine how the craftsmen of Tugaya will be sadly affected by these events.

Anyway, I therefore agree with your observations and I hope I clarified what I meant. Thanks.

Kind regards,

Fernando
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Old 11th June 2017, 02:34 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F. de Luzon
But allow me to clarify what I meant by my statement that what were shown are "authentic Moro pieces." The present artisans of Tugaya are descended, by family and tradition, from the artisans who made what are now genuine collectible Moro antiques. The items shown on post #9 are therefore made in the traditional center of Maranao crafts by Moro (Maranao) artisans. That was what I meant by "authentic Moro."

Just to be clear gentlemen, the work that is on display in Alexish's post #9 is described as "original Moro handles and sheaths that inspired my new Sarungs". I agree that this is probably modern Moro work. The work that we see in the original post however, the new pieces that Alexish commissioned used these modern Moro pieces as models for his new sheaths and hilts. To my eye these pieces look like cartoons of the original modern Moro work that was used to produce these new sheaths and hilts. I do not believe that these originally posted pieces were carved by Moro craftsman. This looks like more work out of the same area of Indonesia that produced Alexish's keris dress that he posted in the keris forum.
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Old 11th June 2017, 02:46 AM   #21
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Default Close-up of blade

Dear Kai,

I enclose close-up of the Moro Kris Blade, as well as a picture of the original sheath.

Is the Kris Maranao, Maguidanao or Tausug?
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Old 11th June 2017, 04:59 AM   #22
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Alexish:

The pictures you posted in #9 and #10 of this thread were not present when I made my initial reply in #12. Perhaps they were still in the Moderation queue at the time I posted.

As I read your comments, the ones that you showed at the top of the post were based on/adapted from the hilts and scabbards in posts #9, #10. Just to further comment on what David said, the examples you show in #9, #10 are indeed recent Moro work, but the ones that you first posted are clearly not.

Ian.

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Old 11th June 2017, 05:01 AM   #23
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Yup, I'm with you Ian........
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Old 11th June 2017, 06:43 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
Dear Fernando,

I hereby enclose a close-up of my blade.

Do you have any cooments on my new kris sheaths?

Hope you can comment on 2 areas:

1) Aesthetics of the entire sheath.

2) How close these sheaths conform to traditional Moro design, and whether they would be considered as Moro in the Philippines.




Dear Alexish,

Thank you for posting the close-ups of the blade (in #13 and #21) . I think it's a fine blade and I won't mind having than in my collection.

Regarding the hilt and sheaths, I think that the workmanship is commendable however, the style does not conform to traditional Mindanao/Moro design. To the initiated, it would stand out as Indonesian style, as others have already pointed out. I agree with kai's observations in #15. These are not the work of Mindanao/Moro craftsmen.

Despite that, I still think they are nice and unique.

Kind regards,

Fernando

Last edited by F. de Luzon : 11th June 2017 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 11th June 2017, 06:45 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Just to be clear gentlemen, the work that is on display in Alexish's post #9 is described as "original Moro handles and sheaths that inspired my new Sarungs". I agree that this is probably modern Moro work. The work that we see in the original post however, the new pieces that Alexish commissioned used these modern Moro pieces as models for his new sheaths and hilts. To my eye these pieces look like cartoons of the original modern Moro work that was used to produce these new sheaths and hilts. I do not believe that these originally posted pieces were carved by Moro craftsman. This looks like more work out of the same area of Indonesia that produced Alexish's keris dress that he posted in the keris forum.


I agree with your observations, David.

Kind regards,

Fernando
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Old 11th June 2017, 07:46 AM   #26
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Dear Alexis, [or is it Alex/Alexish?]

Quote:
I enclose close-up of the Moro Kris Blade, as well as a picture of the original sheath.

Thanks! Pics of the other 3 would certainly be of interest, too!

That's a genuine Moro kris, probably from around the turn of 19th/20th century or a tad earlier. The sogokan may be a bit stiff but otherwise is looks like a really decent example of approx. average quality - I'd love to see the laminations upon re-etching!


Quote:
Is the Kris Maranao, Maguidanao or Tausug?

I'm inclined to believe that this is a Sulu blade; OTOH, this style is usually associated with Maranao origin and this would be one of the latest examples of this type I remember seeing from Sulu. The scabbard is from Mindanao though...


One last comment: The original fittings of this kris from post #21 seem pretty much intact. I'm sure with a little TLC they will look orders of magnitude more appropriate than any modern dress! And IMHO more beautiful (despite average materials and craftsmanship)!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 11th June 2017, 08:08 AM   #27
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Default Rarity of different Kris types

Kai, one more question.

Can you rank the 3 different Kris types - Sulu, Maranao and Maguidanao in terms of rarity?
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Old 11th June 2017, 08:42 AM   #28
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Hello Fernando,

Quote:
Point well taken. But allow me to clarify what I meant by my statement that what were shown are "authentic Moro pieces." The present artisans of Tugaya are descended, by family and tradition, from the artisans who made what are now genuine collectible Moro antiques. The items shown on post #9 are therefore made in the traditional center of Maranao crafts by Moro (Maranao) artisans. That was what I meant by "authentic Moro."

It is true that in terms of style and quality, they are not at par with "antique" (for emphasis) Moro pieces but what we are observing is the outcome of a continuing but evolving tradition. Modern/contemporary examples we have seen are therefore still authentic Moro but reflective of contemporary tastes and circumstances.

I did understand your line of reasoning and apologize for failing to state that I respect this POV.

I believe we need to distinguish between evolving traditions and cultural degeneration though. Maybe the situation can be compared to the living keris tradition on Jawa: The modern generation of makers (or rather some of them) are able to craft high-quality pieces that conform to established cultural norms (pakem); however, this is a difficult task and minute deviations will result in missing the mark (and, thus, considerable loss of income). Many craftsmen seem to opt for an art approach which isn't bound by tradition: This allows for expressive free-style work that catches the eyes of customers, especially the huge majority who hasn't been initiated into the traditional aesthetics. If done well, it certainly is art; it probably isn't a regarded as a "real" keris by any traditionalist though. While one might argue that even pakem are subject to change (as they did in history), I do feel there is a considerable difference between any cultural development that takes place within a cultural setting of norms, traditions, and, especially, underlying symbolic code/language compared to a free-style approach which tosses out the meaning in favor of appealing to any uneducated eyes.

Coming back to Tugaya: Apparently much of the Moro language coded in kris and its fittings has been lost and/or is kept secret; I don't see any indications that the current artisans are trying to "speak" to a culturally educated/initiated audience. Most of the pieces are being sold to cultural outsiders, anyway.

BTW, gunong seem to continue being produced closer to traditions and some of the design elements even carry over into modern kris fittings...


Quote:
In fact, right now, Marawi City where many products of the town of Tugaya are sold, is being bombarded by government troops because of an attempt by terrorist group to take over. I do not know if this has been reported in Western media but parts of Marawi now are reminiscent of Syria. It is already a poverty stricken region and the war will aggravate this.

I believe it was once shortly mentioned in TV news and possibly a couple of newspaper reports. We have to resort to dedicated online news and human rights NGOs for in-depth coverage.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 11th June 2017, 07:45 PM   #29
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Quote:
Can you rank the 3 different Kris types - Sulu, Maranao and Maguidanao in terms of rarity?

That's a question which I never asked myself...

I guess it is fair to say that none of them are uncommon or rare but reasonably exact percentages elude me and I'm also not sure how to perform representative sampling (in the US or Bangsamoro?); all I know is that my own collection is not representative.

Moreover, there are subgroups and distinct ethnic groups - especially Sulu should be subdivided into Tausug, Samal, Yakan, etc. Borneo hosts Tausug, Iranum, Brunei Malays, etc. (Reliable identification is tough though making this practically impossible.)

So, why are you asking?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 11th June 2017, 08:57 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
So, why are you asking?

Good question.
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