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Old 6th July 2017, 06:27 PM   #1
shayde78
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Default Help ID'ing a spear-head/knife

I hope someone can help me identify the region of origin for an item I've had for a little less than a year now. It is a socketed spear head that has a carved wooden pommel inserted in the socket to form a very serviceable knife. The whole seems to be forged with some skill, and the dimensions are quite robust.

This was the only item I acquired from part of an estate that included quite a number of African weapons. Naturally, I assumed this too was African. However, I haven't been able to find examples of single edged spear heads from Africa (although it is a massive region, and I'm sure they must exist).

A key feature is the carved pommel. It depicts a head with four faces. Each face is deftly carved to show a distinct emotion. The execution is such that it suggests to me that this is an established motif. I found one such reference to a four-faced Buddha in India, and am also reminded of the three-faced pommels on Tibetan phurbas. That said, the overall aesthetic doesn't feel South Asian.

This is, however, a beefy and functional blade that was fashioned for utility. I'd love to know more about it's origin and the significance of the carved faces. Any speculation is greatly appreciated.

Thank you all for your thoughts.
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Old 7th July 2017, 07:04 AM   #2
Tim Simmons
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I think this is from Tiawan and an old piece. It might draw some attention. Nice find. I like the wood pummel . Which is not typical but no reason why it is not original. Some members Will know more about it.
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Old 7th July 2017, 11:52 AM   #3
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the atayal of taiwan had open socket knives/swords similar to this. a forum search on 'atayal' might be informative.
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Old 8th July 2017, 03:35 AM   #4
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You people are amazing! I had never heard of the atayal before.
I looked thru the threads, and found one example with a clear socket hilt. Some of the face on the carved wooden hilts seem somewhat similar to the carving of my pommel.
Does anyone know if the four-faced head has a known significance? It seems yuanzhumin is the resident authority one this form. Is he still an active member?
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Old 8th July 2017, 06:59 AM   #5
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Try http://www.functionalselfdefense.or...al-truku-knife/ I think this is a knife ... Truku. The one below is considered a sword...
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Old 8th July 2017, 08:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Try http://www.functionalselfdefense.or...al-truku-knife/ I think this is a knife ... Truku. The one below is considered a sword...



Hello Ibrahiim,

the sword you show is a tourist item, sorry.

Best,
Detlef
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Old 8th July 2017, 05:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Try http://www.functionalselfdefense.or...al-truku-knife/ I think this is a knife ... Truku. The one below is considered a sword...



Back in the early 1960's, when I as a kid, someone bought a sword like that for me from a souvenir shop on the board walk of Atlantic City NJ I had it hanging in my room for many years. The one in your image looks exactly like it! Is the scabbard open on the other side?
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Old 9th July 2017, 11:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 45Auto
Back in the early 1960's, when I as a kid, someone bought a sword like that for me from a souvenir shop on the board walk of Atlantic City NJ I had it hanging in my room for many years. The one in your image looks exactly like it! Is the scabbard open on the other side?




Salaams 45 Auto ~I have no idea as I got this photo rumbling about on the web.. glad it brings back memories.
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Old 13th July 2017, 02:08 AM   #9
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I'm wondering if anyone knows the significance of the four-faced pommel? It seems to follow an (unknown to me) convention of a happy, angry, sad, and peaceful face. Any thoughts?

Last edited by Ian : 19th December 2017 at 04:08 PM. Reason: Font size
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Old 18th December 2017, 12:40 PM   #10
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Hello,

Well, its the first time I see such a four faced figures added on a Northern Taiwanese aboriginal knife. This is absolutely not traditional, even if the face appears not recently done.

This is an Atayal/Sediq/Truku knife, and non of them had carved human figures except the one made much later, starting mid-40s, and only to sell to outsiders in order to make money.

The design with a happy or sad and 2 other different faces is more a western concept.
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Old 18th December 2017, 02:00 PM   #11
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I suspect the butt plug was not original and was added sometime after, possibly by a favoured child pushing one of it's toys into daddy's knife & dad liked it.

or a crude early version of:

The four faces of the Buddah: https://www.novica.com/p/balinese-b...buddhas/219486/
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Old 18th December 2017, 02:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
I suspect the butt plug was not original and was added sometime after, possibly by a favoured child pushing one of it's toys into daddy's knife & dad liked it.


Agree with you. When the knife would be mine I would remove the wood plug.
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Old 18th December 2017, 02:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yuanzhumin
Hello,

The design with a happy or sad and 2 other different faces is more a western concept.


See my edited post above re: the four faces of the Buddah.
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Old 18th December 2017, 06:17 PM   #14
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Yes, a significant and common Buddhist motif
try https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phra_Phrom
Regards
Richard
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Old 10th January 2018, 02:12 AM   #15
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Thank you for the comments. The plug seems intentionally made for the socket, and the faces deftly carved by someone familiar with the motif.

Also, has anyone seen such an example with a socket hilt? It has remnants of a pithy wood deep in the socket, as though it was mounted as a spear/pole arm. Thoughts?
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