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Old 6th February 2019, 02:58 AM   #1
Battara
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Default Advice for Fist of Ilokano Bolo

Greetings folks,

I am restoring this Katipunan Ilokano bolo. The missing silver parts of the horn hilt are done and I finished the silver mounts on the replacement WWII scabbard. At the end of the hilt is a ball that is the end of the tang.

What perplexes me is the hole in the fist fingers. Would it have been for a silver ring (several examples have this), a tassel, or what?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
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Old 6th February 2019, 03:19 AM   #2
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I forgot - here is a picture of the blade:
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Old 6th February 2019, 05:07 AM   #3
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Good Lord, that's one hell of a sword.

Sorry, I don't know about the missing part, just came here to drool over it...
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Old 6th February 2019, 05:33 AM   #4
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Looks like a ring should go there.
I would think the shank would be let into the finger a bit though; just to keep it a bit more secure.
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Old 7th February 2019, 01:53 AM   #5
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According to Lorenz in recent correspondence, the scalloped blade profile definitely makes this Ilokano (as earlier mentioned by Ian), and that there was most probably a ring there.

What he is not sure of is why around the top finger instead of the "ring finger". Could it be an indication of status or rank among the Katipunan?
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Old 7th February 2019, 04:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
What he is not sure of is why around the top finger instead of the "ring finger". Could it be an indication of status or rank among the Katipunan?

Why would a ring on such a hand specifically need to go on the "ring finger". Despite the name, rings are often worn on the other fingers as well in various cultures.
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Old 7th February 2019, 05:32 PM   #7
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Not to mention there is already a bracelet (or two ?) in place.

And what is that filled hole between the little finger and the (usual) ring finger for; another ring ?
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Old 7th February 2019, 08:58 PM   #8
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Jose and I have been talking about this hilt offline for a few days. The sword is a very nice example of Ilokano bladesmithing and the hilt is clearly first rate too. As far as rings on the finger of these fist hilts, I have only seen them on the fourth finger ("ring finger"), but there is probably no good reason why they should not appear on other fingers.

Attached is a picture of one of mine that has aluminum inlays (unfortunately not silver) and is probably mid- to late- 20th C in manufacture. A ring with an inset stone is visible. It too appears to be Ilokano in origin. I don't have a picture of the blade at this time, but IIRC it also had a double-clipped appearance (like Jose's).

Interesting to note that there are left- and right-handed versions of these hilts. I have no idea what the significance of that may be.

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Old 8th February 2019, 02:46 AM   #9
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Been researching the web for reasons that might explain a ring on the finger, much less a ring on the first finger. So far, no luck yet.
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Old 8th February 2019, 05:47 AM   #10
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Looking at where this hole is positioned and the damage around the edge I would hazard to say that this was caused by an insect chewing through from the other side. I have seen this same damage on other horn hilts before where the offending insect had left a thin layer of horn on one end that had broken away later leaving the same raged edge shown here. Is there a hole on the other side of the finger and if so does it look straight, round, smooth on the inside and the same diameter all the way through like it was made by a drill or is the hole a bit larger inside the finger than where it first starts? If it is larger on the inside then it is bug damage, if not I am at a loss. There is no reason that I can think of to drill a hole of this size into the side of the finger as this one is to mount a ring or anything else I can think of.

If I were doing a restoration on this piece I would suggest to its owner (if he wanted this repaired) that the hole on the side that shows be evened up to remove the chipped edges. If this hole goes completely through the finger as I believe is does I would close the other end using something that could be easily removed latter like a piece of masking tape. Then fill the void about 3/4's of the way with a mixture of epoxy and black paint pigment stirring it around the inside with a toothpick or other appropriate item to insure the epoxy has a firm attachment to the entire inside surface of the hole. I would then carve a small piece of horn to create a tightly fitting plug with the grain and color matching as closely as possible to the rest of the hilt. Using the same epoxy pigment mixture fit this piece into the hilt using enough pressure to ensure as close to an invisible seam as possible. Clamp or tie the plug to maintain pressure until the epoxy dries. Regardless of what the adhesives instructions tell you let this to dry for a minimum of 48 hours. Once dry you can carve away the excess material to match the surrounding area and polish to match. Photo below of similar damage.
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Last edited by Robert : 8th February 2019 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 8th February 2019, 10:23 PM   #11
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Ring on the finger signifies marriage to the country. understand there's no divorce in Filipino culture, so in essence this signifies loyalty to death. notice it's on the right hand as well, which is the custom...

so yeah, it should be on the ring finger
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Old 9th February 2019, 04:10 AM   #12
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Ron this is what Lorenz says also. Thanks for your confirmation.

Robert, thanks. Great idea. However, I am not sure this is not a human made hole with a flat top. It is smaller inside and larger outside.
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Old 9th February 2019, 04:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
It is smaller inside and larger outside.


I was speaking in reference to the hole on the other side of the finger behind the tang fittings. "IF" this hole was made by an insect larva the side where it broke through would be larger.
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Old 10th February 2019, 12:08 AM   #14
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Oh........ok I understand better. Well, then this changes things. I double checked and it is extremely hard to see, but I think you are right - the hole is larger on the inside, but then gets smaller and then larger again.
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Old 10th February 2019, 12:10 AM   #15
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Sounds like insect damage to me.
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Old 11th February 2019, 01:43 AM   #16
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Here are some close up pictures of the hole in the fist for better analysis:
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Old 13th February 2019, 03:14 AM   #17
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Does this seem obvious to others that this may be a bug hole?
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Old 13th February 2019, 04:24 AM   #18
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Still looks like a bugs lunch to me, especially in the last photo. Have you thought to pull the plug between the last two fingers to see if the hole there was intentionally drilled or if it is more bug damage with an old repair
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Old 13th February 2019, 05:35 AM   #19
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I've tried but can't latch onto anything to pull out.

I wonder if this damage was done later. If so, it explains why the hole is there and not for a ring on the wrong finger.
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