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Old 22nd May 2024, 04:38 AM   #1
Helleri
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Default Keris, inscription, rough age.

Firstly, this is not mine. I'm holding it for a friend who doesn't trust that it won't go missing where he currently lives. I'm also seeing about if I can get any more details about it for him. This has been in his family for some decades. He's wanted it since he first saw the blade when he was 15. About 2 years ago they put it out at a yard sale (just after aggressively, but only partly cleaning it) for $15. He saw it there and asked them if he could rescue it from being sold to some stranger, to which they agreed.

Within his family it was originally owned by the father of his cousin's wife. The father and his cousin's wife are Filipino. The father (Larry) has a part interest in a family owned tiger shrimp farm in the Philippines. It's located just outside of the municipality of Makato in the province of Aklan on Panay. Larry was knocking down the wall to a hut on that farm in the 70's in order to expand the hut. He found the sword concealed in the wall he was knocking down. The age of the hut previous to the renovation/addition is unknown. The sword has been owned/kept by one member of their family or another ever since.

I wouldn't say it's considered an heirloom by his family (except in my friend's eyes and I think I'd have to agree). It was just this cool old sword that no one could ever bring themselves to toss. And that eventually made it's way all the way out to California (the Filipino side of their family moved out here a few decades ago).

There's a few things my buddy would like to know about it:

1) If it looks like it was made at or near where it was found; Or if it possibly comes from somewhere else in the Philippines.

2) Any plausible ideas on why someone would hide it like that.

3) A better idea of when it may have been made.

4) What kind of material is the handle likely (this one is more me that wants to know)? It looks and feels like horn of some kind. Even has file marks on it like I've seen show on horn before. But horn is hollow. I've posted a solid horn handled blade on here before. But it was less than a 1/4th inch thick and curved on one side. This has to be some kind of wood the polishes up to look like horn?

5) Any idea what the inscription says? It was revealed when the blade was "cleaned" and Larry doesn't recall him or anyone else scraping something into it. So It's likely from before it was put in the wall. But I can't even tell if the characters are English or if some of them just look like they could be English. I've included a flash and no flash picture of the inscription.

6) Finally (and again this one is more me), I intend to make him a scabbard for it while I'm holding onto it for him. As far as I know it's never had one. So any pics of similar blades with scabbards would be helpful. As I'd like to stay within the realm of authentic looking (though there will be marks on the scabbard to indicate that it is newly made for an older sword).

As for my own thoughts on it the things I found interesting are that the guard looks filed in place. I didn't get the best angle on it. but someone spent a little time really trying to file the brass up against the base of the blade. Looks almost brazed in the picture, but it's not. In person you can see the file marks and that it's actually gapped there. Just a really close gap.

Another thing is that under the peen and butt cap there's a hole on the side that has had a wedge of the same material as the handle tapped into it. Wondering if that has something to do with peening the end of the tang or maybe it once anchored a thong or something? Again hard to see in the picture but it doesn't look like a repair as much as it does a component.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 06:19 AM   #2
wildwolberine
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Helleri,

I suggest searching the forum for “Negrito bolo”, you’ll find more examples!
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Old 22nd May 2024, 08:42 AM   #3
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indeed and examples pretty much the same as that blade have been published here already

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=22318
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Old 22nd May 2024, 10:00 AM   #4
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I have to say, I quite like the bowie style they come in. And thank you wildwolberine and milandro for pointing me in the right direction.

Last edited by Helleri; 22nd May 2024 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 04:25 PM   #5
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Hello Helleri,

The dagger is post WWII IMO to answer one of your questions. The handle material is buffalo horn would answer another question.
The scabbard was made from leather. And only for clarification, the dagger is not a keris.
Attached is a pic of a similar example found online.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 22nd May 2024, 04:49 PM   #6
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And here is a longer one, discussed in another forum, just found by accident when I was looking for similar examples. You will find that the inscription is "Negrito bolo". But these daggers have nothing to do with the "Negritos".Here the link: http://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.14017.html
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Old 22nd May 2024, 05:01 PM   #7
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Another one!
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Old 22nd May 2024, 10:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen View Post
Hello Helleri,

The dagger is post WWII IMO to answer one of your questions. The handle material is buffalo horn would answer another question.
The scabbard was made from leather. And only for clarification, the dagger is not a keris.
Attached is a pic of a similar example found online.

Regards,
Detlef
I noticed when he first showed it to me that the base of the blade doesn't wing out into a guard. It doesn't have those intricate hooks and curls of metal. the bolster doesn't taper down steeply, the handle is rather symmetrical. The inscription is lazy, the file work is bad...Seeing others like it. It actually looks like this particular one is not even an all that well done example of one of these.

I had a suspicion from the start that it was a tourist blade of some description. Just wasn't sure what else to call it since it felt like it leaned more toward keris than bolo for typical features (even though I know some arne't even wavy). Also keris or kris has sort of fallen into common parlance as relating that it's a wavy blade from th4e Philippines for many people that like knives but are not nearly as into arms and armor collection as you lot. So it does over time become easy to just use the phrase even when it's not technically correct. Maybe calling it a pseudo-keris would be appropriate.
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Old 23rd May 2024, 01:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helleri View Post
Maybe calling it a pseudo-keris would be appropriate.
Not really. A keris is not at all dependent upon having a wavy blade. In fact most keris have straight blades. So calling a blade a "keris" based solely of the fact that it is a wavy blade never really makes sense. I do understand that it has become a rather common misconception though.
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Old 23rd May 2024, 03:48 PM   #10
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Hi helleri,

Thanks for taking such an interest in a friend's old bolo and posting it here for discussion. It's actually a fairly common knife from central/northern Luzon. So, not made in the Visayas. Many of these were made in the Province of Pampanga and sold to U.S. soldiers who were stationed at Clarke AFB and the US Naval base nearby at Subic Bay. They were usually sold with a soft leather sheath, stitched up the back, similar to the one shown in the pictures below.

The Negrito people (also known as Aete) are a small race who live in central Luzon. Some lived in areas on and adjacent to the old Clarke AFB. They do not make the knives that bear the name "Negrito bolo." This term was likely added to enhance the sale of such knives to U.S. servicemen who were friendly with the local Negrito groups. It should be noted that the Negritos were very active in resisting the Japanese occupation of Luzon during WWII, another reason to include their name on these knives for marketing purposes.

Similar wavy bladed knives were made before the mid-20th C, but were not labeled "Negrito bolo" until post-WWII.

Although these are knives that were made in some quantity largely for foreigners, the blades were often of reasonable quality, tempered, and could hold a sharp edge. They are legitimate weapons made in a strongly blade-oriented country.

Last edited by Ian; 23rd May 2024 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 23rd May 2024, 11:21 PM   #11
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Yeah I feel like this thing is fairly solid. Like it could easily be used for bush whacking with no damage to it. And I don't think it being rather common or somewhat before the periods of big interest really matters. It's got a good story to it that plays out over decades. Perhaps a few details of which are not entirely true or accurate. But fun none the less. It will be a neat side project to make a new sheath for it as well that looks close to what the original might have.
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Old 24th May 2024, 01:31 AM   #12
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The inscription on the blade in question is pretty crude. This might lend itself to the idea that it is an early example, lacking the more sophisticated inscription and metal finishing in the later so-called "tourist" iterations.

Or perhaps it was made to emulate the successful tourist blades, but by a smith whose skills were less advanced, less commercial.

Closer to a folk art piece, IMO, and possibly an early post-WWII example.

Last edited by Bob A; 24th May 2024 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 25th May 2024, 10:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob A View Post
The inscription on the blade in question is pretty crude. This might lend itself to the idea that it is an early example, lacking the more sophisticated inscription and metal finishing in the later so-called "tourist" iterations.

Or perhaps it was made to emulate the successful tourist blades, but by a smith whose skills were less advanced, less commercial.

Closer to a folk art piece, IMO, and possibly an early post-WWII example.
The quality of the inscription was the first thing I really noticed when it came into my possession. I wasn't even sure they were English characters and thought it might have just been someone's name as a sort of property tag.

Both the possibilities you've presented occurred to me. Also that it could even be both simultaneously. Perhaps not even a smith. Maybe just some one who had a knife, had a file, and needed some money. There are just soooo many file marks on this afterall. They seriously don't show well with my camera and lighting. But someone went to work on it.

Like I said in my original post, the guard doesn't even appear to have been brazed to the blade. Rather (in person at least) it seems very obvious that someone filed the final shape of the guard with it in place and made an effort to work it up against the blade and close that gap as much as they could to make it look brazed. I thought it was brazed for a second before I really looked at it. So it seems likely they didn't have the means to braze it.
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