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Old 17th June 2017, 08:30 PM   #1
Lee
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Default Pattern Welded Straight Kris

I had mentioned elsewhere on the forums that Moro and Sulu arms will often show pattern-welding reminiscent of that seen in European early medieval arms and that I would present this kris. The blade is just under two feet (60.7 cm) in length and is relatively straight (it is difficult to be sure whether re-honings might explain the slight concavity of the forward edge, though there is probably a very slight opposite convex curve on the opposite edge so it may be intentional. Most of the blade shows two bands of twist-core pattern welding in the central panel on each side between narrow fullers. Having it in hand, it appears that the same two rods are seen on both sides such that about 15 to 30% of the overall original rod thickness remains (thus around 35-40% ground away and lost to oxidation from each face). Where the blade is widest at its base, there are three rods, one of which appears to end in a swirl seen on both sides.

I acquired this example for the pattern-welding and I have suspected that it is one of the earlier examples in my collection. I am most curious for the opinions of members as to the origin and age of this kris.
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Old 17th June 2017, 08:56 PM   #2
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Hi Lee:

What a lovely kris and I really like the complex twist core pattern on the blade.

If we believe Cato, then this appears to be a Maranao kris (based on the elephant trunk area). The shape of the scabbard would support that attribution also. The blade is a little slimmer than many Maranao examples which makes me think it is likely to be an older one, say early to mid-19th C. The hilt seems more recent, as does the scabbard which has been nailed rather than glued or wrapped.

Very nice kris.

Ian.
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Old 17th June 2017, 08:59 PM   #3
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Thumbs up Beautiful pattern weld

Superb pattern weld! I believe it is the most beautiful I have seen in a Moro Kris.

Other than that I cannot help you with any useful information. Sorry!
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Old 17th June 2017, 09:52 PM   #4
Jens Nordlunde
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I cant comment on the kris - but I do love the pictures:-)
Jens
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Old 17th June 2017, 11:18 PM   #5
Rick
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Cool

Lee, that slight curve in the blade is put there on purpose.
A very nice kris!

I also think the swirl at the base on each side of the blade has meaning.
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Old 18th June 2017, 01:18 AM   #6
Robert
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Now this is one very beautiful kris and a wonderful addition to your collection. I agree with Ian on age and that the hilt and scabbard look to be more than likely later replacements. I cannot tell from the photos and would like to know if those are actually nails or wooden dowels holding the two halves of the scabbard together? I don't believe the downward slope to the blade is unusual as I have seen quite a few other kris with this same feature. I keep picturing this mounted with a hilt more in line with the craftsmanship shown in the blade, maybe something with a bit of silver and an ivory pommel.
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Old 18th June 2017, 02:17 AM   #7
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Default Thank you Gentlemen...

Thank you Gentlemen...

Yes, I see the elephant - now that you mention it - and it is not even demanding too much imagination!

I think that you are correct about there being a slight deliberate curve. The photographs exaggerate this a bit as there is very slight 'fisheye'.

Those are wooden dowels holding the two halves of the scabbard together.
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Old 18th June 2017, 03:45 AM   #8
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The question that arises for me when looking at this kris (I'm pretty sure it has been rehilted) is are we seeing a pamor feature that is talismanic in nature, much like Javanese patterns?

I'm probably late to the party here, but it is new to my experience.
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Old 18th June 2017, 08:42 AM   #9
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Hello Lee,

Congrats, that's certainly an exceptional piece!

I'm with Rick & Co. on both counts:

The slight forward curve of the blade is intentional and not rarely seen with "straight" kris.

And the swirl at the base of the blade is an additional pamor motif (kul buntet in Jawanese) - something I haven't seen before with any Moro kris! Could you please add a larger close-up of both sides of the base of blade?

A top view on the gangya would be great, too!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 18th June 2017, 05:14 PM   #10
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Rick, considering their geographic and cultural proximity, I would surmise that the associated meanings of such markings from the realm of the keris world must have carried on at least to some extent in the mindsets and work of Moro smiths.

Perhaps entirely unassociated except by the nature of the medium of forged iron, iron blade inlays are also frequently observed in European Migration Period and Viking Age swords (even the sword in the logo at top of this page has one!) and such inlays do include swirls. I have just finished reading a most engaging doctoral thesis on iron inlays in late Iron Age Finland - Marks of Fire, Value and Faith Swords with Ferrous Inlays in Finland during the Late Iron Age (ca. 7001200 AD) by M Moilanen (2016) that seriously ponders the significance of such inlays (and the author and his university have generously provided a pdf of the entire book!) Some of these marks may well have had talismanic significance to the maker or user while others may have been a maker's mark or 'signature' or they may have been applied as an otherwise anonymous testament to the technical proficiency of the smith. Also, it is noted that peoples everywhere from the beginning have liked to decorate their tools and other possessions.

I am going to resurrect an old thread of Lew's to show another similarly very subtly curved 'straight' kris that features iron inlays.

Kai, I have noted your interest in a top view of the gangya and added it to the photo queue. Meanwhile, here are the requested close-ups of the base of this blade:
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Old 18th June 2017, 05:50 PM   #11
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Smile Kul Buntet

If this represents batu lapak then according to Tammens book DE KRIS it is a royal pamor.

Tammens notes that kul buntet is essentially the same, but it's character may be stronger.

I'm not sure how relevant Tammens work is anymore.

I, personally, have seen no evidence that pamor interpretations were carried over to the Moro peoples.

It might make a bit more sense if it was a Malay kris.
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Old 18th June 2017, 05:50 PM   #12
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Lee,

Thanks for the cross-cultural reference and historical perspective on pattern welded and laminated blades. Interesting comparisons indeed.

Ian.
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Old 18th June 2017, 05:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
If this represents batu lapak then according to Tammens book DE KRIS it is a royal pamor.

Tammens notes that kul buntet is essentially different, but it's character may be stronger.

I have seen no evidence before this to suggest that pamor interpretations were carried over to the Moro peoples.

It might make a bit more sense if it was a Malay kris.
Hi Rick,

Do you think this is a Malay kris? Can you amplify?

The hilt looks typical Maranao work, especially with the crenalated metal ring just below the pommel, while the "elephant trunk area" does not look like Malay examples I have seen previously.

The link to a royal pamor is an intriguing observation given the high level of craftsmanship for the forging that went into this blade.

Ian.
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Old 18th June 2017, 07:21 PM   #14
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Ian I was thinking that this could be Maranao or perhaps (more likely IMHO) Maguindanao based on the front of the ganga and on the pommel.

Also can the hilt looks like it could be later (though not as certain as the tribal affiliation).
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Old 18th June 2017, 09:07 PM   #15
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Rick,

Do you think this is a Malay kris? Can you amplify?

The hilt looks typical Maranao work, especially with the crenalated metal ring just below the pommel, while the "elephant trunk area" does not look like Malay examples I have seen previously.

The link to a royal pamor is an intriguing observation given the high level of craftsmanship for the forging that went into this blade.

Ian.


Hi Ian,
No I can't amplify; just thinking out loud.
Thinking out loud again, maybe if it were a Malay sword there might be a closer tie to Javanese keris traditions.

Yeah, I know it doesn't look particularly Malay.
I have always wondered if this 'Maranao' pommel form comes from trying to salvage what is left of a broken Kakatua.
Heresy, I know...
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Old 19th June 2017, 12:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
I have always wondered if this 'Maranao' pommel form comes from trying to salvage what is left of a broken Kakatua.
Heresy, I know...

Actually this is a typical form of Maguindanao pommel form.
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Old 19th June 2017, 12:04 AM   #17
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Whichever Moro group Jose; I still wonder about the origin of the design.
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Old 19th June 2017, 12:15 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
I have always wondered if this 'Maranao' pommel form comes from trying to salvage what is left of a broken Kakatua.
Heresy, I know...

Actually this is a typical form of Maguindanao pommel form.

Here are some examples of what I am talking about:
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Old 19th June 2017, 01:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
Actually this is a typical form of Maguindanao pommel form.

Here are some examples of what I am talking about:
I agree Jose. This is a commonly observed type of pommel that I associate with Maguindanao/Maranao kris from the late 19th C and more recently. I have also seen it imitated on a couple of Lumad kris (an example here)

Ian

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Old 19th June 2017, 07:26 PM   #20
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A little bit late but this is a very nice kris blade! And like Jose I think that it is a Maguindanao kris but frankly said I have my problems to distinguish between Maguindanao and Maranao byself! I only know that it is a Maguindanao kris from this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...&highlight=kris since this kris from my collection has a very similar pommel and in the provided thread is also a discussion about this pommel form.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 19th June 2017, 07:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
The hilt seems more recent, as does the scabbard which has been nailed rather than glued or wrapped.

Very nice kris.

Hi Ian...when i first looked at this i took those to be wooden pegs, not iron nails. I have an old sheath that uses dowels in that manner for attachment. Maybe Lee can verify this one way or the other.
...and yes, very nice kris.
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Old 19th June 2017, 10:51 PM   #22
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Detlef:

As I noted in my initial response, Cato describes the shape of the "mouth" of the elephant on Lee's kris as being Maranao in origin (see B in attached pic from Cato). I agree that the pommel is similar to those seen on a number of Maguindanao kris, but the same style is also found mounted on blades that have Maranao characteristics. So we have a possible mix of tribal influences in the case of Lee's sword.

I think the hilt is not as old as the blade. Perhaps we have a Maguindanao remount of a Maranao kris, but I can't rule out an entirely Maranao sword. This raises the question, what determines the tribal designator for a Moro kris--is it the blade or the dress (hilt, scabbard, etc.)? And a corollary, if a Moro blade is refitted by another culture, say the T'boli, is it still a Moro kris?

Ian.

A. Sulu
B. Maranao
C. Maguindanao
D. "Crossover"

.
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Old 19th June 2017, 11:32 PM   #23
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excellent question, Ian. Based on Cato's classification, I'm with you on the blade style that of Maranao origin.
with that said, i would like to add this: a lot of pandays travel from town to town. this has always been the custom from time immemorial. so if a Maranao panday travels to Sulu and decided to stay there for awhile, would his blade be considered Maranao even tho it was commissioned by a Tausug?
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Old 20th June 2017, 04:40 AM   #24
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Ron brings out a good point.

I will add that the Marano and Maguindanao regions are adjacent, so cross influences should not be shocking, and the styles, even okir styles, are subtle and difficult to differentiate.
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Old 20th June 2017, 04:58 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spunjer
excellent question, Ian. Based on Cato's classification, I'm with you on the blade style that of Maranao origin.
with that said, i would like to add this: a lot of pandays travel from town to town. this has always been the custom from time immemorial. so if a Maranao panday travels to Sulu and decided to stay there for awhile, would his blade be considered Maranao even tho it was commissioned by a Tausug?
Ron, we could take this further and perhaps with a clearer answer. If a Japanese swordsmith created a katana in, say, Thailand, would it still be a Japanese katana or would it be a version of a Thai daab? The sword would be indistinguishable from those he created in Japan, so how would one distinguish where it was made? The answer, clearly, is the katana is a katana wherever it is manufactured.

I would therefore say that if a Maranao craftsman created a Maranao kris in, say, Tawi Tawi, it would still be a Maranao kris because the nature of the kris is imbued by its creator and not by its place of manufacture.

To take this in a different direction. If a Maranao craftsman created a kris blade in the Maranao homeland and traded that blade to a Tausug in Jolo who then dressed it in traditional Sulu fashion, does that kris then become a Tausug kris or is it still a Maranao kris? Is it the blade or its hilt/scabbard that is the essential determinant of the culture to which this sword belongs? Or does it come down to whoever owns the sword and the culture/ethnic group in which it is being used?

I don't wish to hijack Lee's thread with these philosophical thoughts, so perhaps someone could start a new thread where these questions can be pursued in a more general way. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples from elsewhere that could be drawn into such a discussion. Charles has shown us a number of his cross-cultural pieces in the past that would be good subjects for this discussion.

Ian.
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Old 20th June 2017, 06:28 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Hi Ian...when i first looked at this i took those to be wooden pegs, not iron nails. I have an old sheath that uses dowels in that manner for attachment. Maybe Lee can verify this one way or the other.
...and yes, very nice kris.

Since my observation wasn't addressed i'd just like to ask again, especially of Lee, since the kris is in his hands.
Wooden pegs or iron nails?
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Old 20th June 2017, 09:47 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Since my observation wasn't addressed i'd just like to ask again, especially of Lee, since the kris is in his hands.
Wooden pegs or iron nails?

Post #7

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
... Those are wooden dowels holding the two halves of the scabbard together...
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Old 20th June 2017, 12:39 PM   #28
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Wink Meandering into philosophical discussions

Meandering into philosophical discussions can be quite enjoyable, even if my level of existential squelch does cause me to skip over a lot.

Those are wooden pegs holding the two halves of the scabbard together. There were also wooden pegs securing the end of the scabbard, but one is absent and the other broken (and the rubber band that has usurped their purpose was removed for the photographs).

The scabbard is made of relatively soft wood and it is bulkier than many of the kris scabbards I have encountered. The photographs are not optimal for showing a glued repair of the mouthpiece on one side and several cracks on the opposite side in the same area. Would this scabbard have stood up to a generation of regular use - I seriously doubt it. I even wonder if this was made as a 'resting' scabbard.

While blades remain useful in a society as weapons or social status indicators, they are going to get remounted and passed around, especially if they are perceived as being of superior quality. The book I linked to above delves into the effects of this in Late Iron Age Finland and how this natural activity makes retrospective assignments and recognition of style trends difficult to impossible to discern. Whether by trade or conquest, good blades did 'get around' when they were relevant as they do today for our purposes of collectors. As collectors, we usually strive to maintain rather than change the objects. But if you were going to wear a sword in earnest every day it would likely find itself remounted to your taste. So, I think that any sword that remained in use for multiple generations may have seen re-mountings along the way both for structure and style. My favorite example of such is in the Swiss National Museum in Zurich where a pattern-welded Migration Period blade has been later mounted as a Katzbalger - now all phases are in good but 'excavated' condition.

The photographs of this sword were also not taken to show old combat edge damage, but there are some 'V' profile cuts just back from the tip that suggest this sword did see some practical physical use.

As to the semantics, I suppose auction and museum catalogers have worked this out. The sword formerly in the logo (removed in posthumous deference to Matchlock) could be accurately classified as 'takouba sword with silver mountings in Agadez style, late 20th to early 21st century, with an earlier (17th or early 18th century) European trade blade.' Here we give precedence to the whole in its current state.

Or one can go the other way around: 'tachi sword blade, Yamato Tegai school, inscribed Kanenaga, late 13th to early 14th century, in mixed later mounts' where the focus is just on the blade.

But to our current point, if this started out as Maranao, there is no reason that a Maguindanao might not have taken a fancy to this blade (as did I) and acquired it and remounted it to suit himself (as I have not).

Last edited by Lee : 20th June 2017 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 20th June 2017, 06:04 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Post #7

Thanks Fernando. Don't know how i missed that. I'd say that marks this sheath as perhaps a little bit older than might have previously been thought.
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Old 25th June 2017, 11:33 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
If we believe Cato, then this appears to be a Maranao kris (based on the elephant trunk area). The shape of the scabbard would support that attribution also. The blade is a little slimmer (emphasis mine-F.dL) than many Maranao examples which makes me think it is likely to be an older one, say early to mid-19th C. The hilt seems more recent, as does the scabbard which has been nailed rather than glued or wrapped.


Hi Lee,

This is a very interesting blade. I agree with Ian and the others that the details suggest that it is a Maranao kris. However, it does not look slimmer than usual to me. I think that the 24 inch length of the blade just gave it a thinner looking profile.

One of the common observations that I agree with is that older Moro krises tend to be shorter (+/- 18 to 21 inches). The 24 inch length of the present example makes it more in common with 20th century pieces. Also, somehow based on the style (aside from the separate gangya), my gut tells me that it comes from the 1920s-1930s. That is clearly an unscientific assumption but my familiarity (as a historian) with the "vibe" of the time tells me so. But again, this is not at present a substantiated opinion. I'm just sharing what I think based on what I'm seeing on a computer monitor.

This kris is a precious example. I hope to one day add something like it to my collection. Congratulations on your good find!

Kind regards,

Fernando (F de Luzon)
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