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Old 1st January 2013, 06:53 PM   #1
CharlesS
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Default Philippine Insurrection Era Kriss ...or later??

This is an attractive Moro kriss with some unusual characteristics, including the comparatively extreme curvature of the pommel. The quality of the wood is fine in both the handle and scabbard. Surprisingly the blade is rather poorly forged with many flaws and a far from perfect surface, though apparently older as the blade's ganja is separate.

The most intriguing aspect of the kriss is its carving on the scabbard and hilt, all very delicate work and filled with what I believe is lime. The carving is still largely intact, though clearly worn with age.

Above all, the eagle carved into the scabbard is most interesting, and I am curious if this is an insurrection era insigna or something later???

Battara and Spunjer...please chime in!!

Thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 1st January 2013, 08:42 PM   #2
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What an unusual piece! I am leaning towards Maranao blade, but the bird is not what I was expecting for an American influenced piece.

The bird might be still during the American period, though I think it stands on it's own. The thing is the Moros had nothing to do with the Philippine Revolution so the connections with that movement in the north didn't truly exist. I think the bird is independent. Not unheard of since the bird motif is in Maranao work like the sarimanok and others.

Carving on the scabbard does throw me a bit. The okir looks Maranao but the outer profile of the wranga looks like later Sulu influence (perhaps Maguindanao work?).

With the hilt wrap (and everything else) I would hesitantly place this in the first quarter of the 20th century.
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Old 1st January 2013, 08:51 PM   #3
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Battara,

Does the coat of arms on the eagle's(if it is an eagle) chest look familar to you?? Then there is the "M" in the center??? I know the insurrection era is a specialty of yours.

The bird may be American inspired, but is not copy of an American insignia I don't think.

Another strange one.....and that's one of the things that perplexed me as I know the Moros were not involved in the insurrection in alliance with the north, but fought their own war/s with the US.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:01 AM   #4
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charles, do you think the kris is original with the scabbard? not 100% foolproof, but i tend to check if the groove/grooves line up with the asang2x (that's if everything else looks like it matches. sorta like my "just to make sure" measure).
with that said, if you look at the overall outline of the scabbard, it's exactly similar to this Sulu piece. only difference on yours is, it's not wrapped with rattan bands and it doesn't have MOP:
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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:02 AM   #5
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as for the coat of arms: i notice there are three stars and also two stripes (one stripe has horizontal lines while the other one has vertical lines; i think this was done to denote two different colors. one being red and the other one, blue). this part is an important clue. in the early days of american occupation, the shield has thirteen vertical stripes; an alternating red and white, and no stars. it was when the Philippines became a Commonwealth in 1935 that the three stars and two stripes were added. we can then assume that the eagle and shield was added after 1935. the question is; was the eagle/shield added after? from the way it looks tho, it appears that the eagle/shield/ukkil were done at the same time...
as far as the "M", that remains a mystery. hope this helped.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:19 AM   #6
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Ron and Charles, I have seen blades like this on both Sulu and Maranao pieces before. However as I said the wranga seems to me to be a mix.

Ron - good point on the stars and stripes on the wranga - I missed that. Therefore I agree that this could push the date a little further back. Does look like the Commonwealth crest, doesn't it?

Charles, Ron brings up another good point. Check to see how well the scabbard fits the asang-asang and fit in general. I still think that this scabbard was made for this kris, although if the fit is not good enough, it would definitely indicate otherwise. I guess I am looking at the okir of the pommel and that of the scabbard.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:41 AM   #7
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The kriss fits perfectly in the scabbard...definitely "born together".

This later attribution may also go a long way in explaining the poor forging of the blade, that is compared to other and earlier pieces; it's not horrible.

We might say "more style than substance".

Still, quite a neat and attractive piece.

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Old 2nd January 2013, 03:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
We might say "more style then substance".

Still, quite a neat and attractive piece.



indeed it is!
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Old 2nd January 2013, 04:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
The kriss fits perfectly in the scabbard...definitely "born together".

Very good. More valuable that way and a good example of the evolution of these pieces.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 04:37 AM   #10
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THE QUALITY OF THE WOOD USED TO MAKE THE SCABBARD IS USUALLY RESERVED FOR THE POMMEL ONLY AND IS NOT AN INEXPENSIVE WOOD AS USUALLY FOUNDIN SCABBARDS. IT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN MADE WITH THE SAME WOOD AS THE POMMEL AND AT THE SAME TIME AND INTENDED FOR SHOW AND NEVER TO BE COVERED WITH A FIBER WRAP. THE BLADE IS LIKELY THE OLDEST AND THE TWO BACA BACA AND FERULLE AND PERHAPS THE HANDLE AND SCABBARD NEWER THAN THE BLADE.
IS THE FERRULE AND STRAPS SILVER, WHITE METAL OR ALUMINUM? IF NOT SILVER IT IS INCONSISTANT WITH THE CURRENT EXPENSIVE DRESS. JUST OBSERVATIONS FOR OTHERS MORE KNOWLEGABLE TO PONDER. I DO LIKE IT VERY WELL DONE.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 05:45 AM   #11
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Interesting kris indeed! Looks like a Maranao kris in Sulu dress. This doesn't surprise me. If you have any of the early, old Kris Cutlery Sandata catalogs from the early 1990's when Cecil Quirino was bringing in old swords from Sulu, check out the kris section. There were several krises described as old Maranao blades in more recent Sulu dress. I'm not saying this is one of them, but that it is possible to find a blade from one of the Moro tribe in the dress of another. And really, you would never see a seki kura hilt that is original to a Maranao blade unless it was added on later.

As for the eagle, that is a puzzler. Have you considered that it might be a form of a garuda?

Regards,
Bangkaya
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Old 2nd January 2013, 11:51 AM   #12
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There actually was one General of Aguinldos 1st Republic I have seen and heard that carried what looked to be a Moro Kris. I have not found any information on this general at all. There were military representatives of the 1st Republic that traveled as far as Mindanao as well to establish and take over territory in association to the revolution and then the Phil-Am War. But typically these representatives were natives of Luzon and many times nobody followed or listened to them.
The Americans were smart in calling a temporary truce with the Moros, telling them their war was with the 'Tagals' of the North and not the Moros. The Bates Treaty was nothing but a delaying instrument so the Moros wouldn't get involved with the war at the time. God only knows what would of happen if the Moros joined in the fight against the American colonizers.
As for the eagle, I never came across a Katipunan or 1st Republic symbol with a eagle or bird. The only thing similar would be Aguinaldos sword w/ an eagles head, but he took possession of that sword from a Spanish General.

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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:38 PM   #13
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Thanks again for the input....all very interesting stuff!
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Old 2nd January 2013, 04:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bangkaya
As for the eagle, that is a puzzler. Have you considered that it might be a form of a garuda?

It seems to me that all the elements exist (shield, 3 stars, stripes) in this eagle design to clearly connect it to the coat of arms for the Philippines commonwealth established from 1935-46. I think that dates the scabbard at least. I am not completely sure that the mark on the eagle's breast is necessarily the letter "M", though certainly possible.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 04:51 PM   #15
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Thanks David,

I was so hoping that someone could come up with that insigna, and like you, I think that goes a long way towards answering the question.

Couple of things to note....

1. The scabbard style and hilt style certainly fit with that era.

2. Assuming the blade is born with it at the same time, would we have to rethink our assumptions about the time period of blades with separate gangas???
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Old 2nd January 2013, 04:57 PM   #16
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Re your question, Charles :

Smiths in Indonesia still make keris today with separate gangjas .
So I would posit that it is not safe to assume that this feature uniformly died out at a certain date with the kris of the Moros .
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Old 2nd January 2013, 05:16 PM   #17
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I couldn't agree more Rick, but it has been a generalised rule for dating Moro krisses...key term...generalized!
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Old 2nd January 2013, 07:19 PM   #18
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I do think that the separable ganga observations still have weight. The separable ganga probably did not suddenly stop but digressed over time. I still think that most separable gangas on kris died out by the 1930s or a little later. It may either push the date a little later or this example may be an exception to the pattern.

Also Dimasalang has a great point. I have been aware of the attempt from the Republican forces to woe help from the Moros, but seeing a kris on an officer is a new one for me. Thanks for sharing the picture. Hope you do find more information on this man.

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Old 2nd January 2013, 07:33 PM   #19
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Very interesting kris and interesting discussion.

What nobody mentioned until now: is this kris worked for a lefthanding person?

Regards,

Detlef

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Old 2nd January 2013, 09:53 PM   #20
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I agree Battara that pic is a mind blower!

Sajen, yes this was apparently for a left hander.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 12:18 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
Assuming the blade is born with it at the same time, would we have to rethink our assumptions about the time period of blades with separate gangas???

Rather than being forced to rethink separate gangyas and time periods i think it is safer to assume that this sheath was simply made at a later date than the kris. If a sheath is made specifically for a blade it should be a perfect fit regardless of whether it was made at the same time or later than the blade. So i see no reason why we should make the assumption of the two being born at the same time in the first place.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 01:01 AM   #22
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Hello Charles,

Thanks for posting this - neat!

Can you please post a pic of the gangya area taken *exactly* from above? From what I can glean from the close-up I am somewhat tempted to believe this blade might be more likely Sulu than Maranao. I also don't think it is later than the turn of the (19th) century; quality does look quite decent, too (IMHO better than many 19th c. village kris). What are its dimensions?

Scabbard style is certainly Sulu and also the wood does look typical. Is the carving work completely pure-bred Maranao for sure? Any chance this was crafted in a cultural/political melting pot (Zamboanga comes to mind)?

Jose and Bangkaya, is the carving on the pommel really Maranao style?

Regards,
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Old 3rd January 2013, 01:24 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
Sajen, yes this was apparently for a left hander.

I'm not sure that is necessarily so. Look at how these two Moro warriors wear their kris with the "elephant trunk" side of the blade facing upwards.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 03:48 AM   #24
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The ukkil on the seki kura hilt and on the scabbard looks Sulu...I'm leaning towards Yakan and not Tausug.

The orientation on how a kris or kalis is worn (whether "tachi" or "katana" style) is dependent on the owner, but more importantly the style of silat he practices...not which side of the scabbard is fancier.


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Old 3rd January 2013, 03:53 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bangkaya
The ukkil on the seki kura hilt and on the scabbard looks Sulu...I'm leaning towards Yakan and not Tausug.

The orientation on how a kris or kalis is worn (whether "tachi" or "katana" style) is dependent on the owner, but more importantly the style of silat he practices...not which side of the scabbard is fancier.


Regards,
Bangkaya


This begs the question :
Did the old-timers even refer to their fighting technique as Silat ?
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Old 3rd January 2013, 04:18 AM   #26
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Rick,
Not necessarily. But in Sulu the fighting art there is what most people would call silat and there are several different family systems there. Much like in the Visayas and Luzon the fighting arts there are lumped together as arnis, eskrima, and kali....although there are many different systems there as well. Many of the old time eskrimadors or anisadors didn't even call it arnis, eskrima, or kali....just whatever they wanted to call it. But there is a difference between the Bangsamoro fighting arts and the Filipino martial arts. Where the Filipino fighting arts are purely Filipino in origin (with maybe slight Spanish influence) the Bangsamoro fighting arts has its origins or rather influence from the Indo/Malay fighting arts of silat. As a practioner of both arts of eskrima and silat, I can definitely say there is a big difference, but its hard to explain to non-practitioners of either arts.

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Bangkaya
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Old 3rd January 2013, 05:40 AM   #27
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Thank you, Bangkaya .
That clears up a question that has been on my mind for some time now; being a Collector rather than a Practitioner .
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Old 3rd January 2013, 03:14 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bangkaya
The orientation on how a kris or kalis is worn (whether "tachi" or "katana" style) is dependent on the owner, but more importantly the style of silat he practices...not which side of the scabbard is fancier.

And which style uses the orientation i provided in these images? Personally i prefer this draw as it brings the blade out of the scabbard in a manner that positions it for a strong downward cut.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:03 PM   #29
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David,
Sorry I can't be specific since most of the silat systems within Bangsamoro are family sytems with no specific names and just referred to as just "silat" and most often is not taught outside the clan. There are as many different silat systems within the Bangsamoro arts as there are different forms of eskrima, arnis, or kali within the Filipino martial arts (FMA.) Though FMA has more exposure worldwide and many different systems are quite known and taught worldwide, the silat arts of Bangsamoro are not as well known because it is rarely if ever taught to outsiders of the clan.

I suggest we get back to the subject of this thread before it digresses to silat thread which I wish to avoid.

Regards,
Bangkaya
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Old 4th January 2013, 04:26 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bangkaya
I suggest we get back to the subject of this thread before it digresses to silat thread which I wish to avoid.

I don't see much danger of that Bangkaya...still, how these swords were wielded, including various methods of the draw seem very much in the scope of the subject. I believe we can discuss this without losing sight of the weapon at hand. Actually naming the Silat style is not that important. Just thought you might know since it was you who brought up these stylistic differences to begin with and you have told us that you practice both eskrima and silat.
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