Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 21st August 2018, 07:53 PM   #1
Robert
EAAF Staff
 
Robert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Centerville, Kansas
Posts: 2,138
Default Copper And Brass Philippine Dagger

As I have not posted anything for awhile I thought that I would start by posting one of my latest additions to my Philippine copper and brass bladed dagger and knife collection. A beautiful little copper bladed dagger absolutely loaded with symbolism.
Below are the measurements as well as part of an ongoing discussion I have had with Lorenz on this piece. Any further information or observations that anyone would care to share on this piece would be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Robert

Measurements;
Total length = 9 inches
Blade length = 5 inches
Blade Width At Hilt 7/8 inch
Blade Thickness At Hilt = 1/8 inch
Length of hilt = 3-1/2 inches
Width of guard = 1/2 inch


Me,
I have included some photos of the last copper bladed dagger I was fortunate enough to acquire for my collection. A rather interesting
piece with the hilt panels carved with different scenes. One is of a bladed weapon, two are of different plants, one of which I believe could
be a catmon flower. There is one of a person with a rather evil look on the face, another with four diamonds and the last I believe is meant
to represent a naga? The butt plate on the is in the shape of sun rays and when you look at the construction the metal parts (starting with the
blade) alternate between copper and brass. Copper blade, brass guard, copper front ferrule, brass end cap with a copper cover plate,
a brass sun ray butt plate and with the sun itself being the end of the copper tang. Again I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this item.

Lorenz,
Everything you said is right on the money (except for the 'catmon' flower which I'm not familiar with, or whether there's a local equiv. of such).
In any case it's a flower which is a symbol of the middle world. In summary, the dagger represents once again the old local religions --
(a) the ancestral spirits via that man figure, and (b) the nature spirits, via the sunburst, the naga, the plants, etc. One panel also appears
to show a fish chasing (or swallowing?) a bird, which is also of course all about the underworld and upper world icons. The panel that shows a
dagger is also about the upper world - it's a well-documented ethnographic finding, here in the Philippines and Indonesia, wherein a bladed weapon
is a symbol of the upper world and is masculine, while pottery is a symbol of the underworld and is feminine. The two ends of the guard can also be
interpreted as sun symbols, while the wavy blade is of course a naga. There's always a tendency to have a profusion and multiplicity of symbols and
icons because the common belief then was that the potency of the talisman (and the weapon then was also often regarded as a talisman and not
necessarily for actual fighting, meaning the mere possession of it made the person felt secure already) was dependent on the number of symbols that
can be embedded on the item, whether the item is a blade, or textile, woodcarving, etc.
Attached Images
            

Last edited by Robert : 22nd August 2018 at 04:58 PM.
Robert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 04:37 AM   #2
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Posts: 2,545
Default

Hi Robert,

Very interesting little knife. Which culture do you think it comes from? The manufacturing style looks like Northern Luzon work to me. What do you think is the significance of alternating copper with a copper-alloy (brass)?

Ian.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 07:46 AM   #3
Robert
EAAF Staff
 
Robert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Centerville, Kansas
Posts: 2,138
Default

Hello Ian, With the overall styling and the tang extending all the way through the hilt I would believe this to be an Ilocano piece. As for the copper and brass alternating the way they do I am not really sure of its significance, but when counted it adds up to seven a lucky number so I believe that this could also be talismanic in nature. In the photos showing only the hilt the ferrule next to the guard is made of copper, but for some reason (probably lighting) it looks more like brass. The true color can be seen in the first two photos.The one thing I forgot to mention before are the bird motifs carved above each of the panels. These of course represent the upper world and symbolize the sun gods alter ego.


Best,
Robert

Last edited by Robert : 22nd August 2018 at 07:58 AM.
Robert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 04:01 PM   #4
Sajen
Member
 
Sajen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Germany, Dortmund
Posts: 6,455
Default

Hello Robert,
What a beautiful talismanic dagger, like you said byself loaded with symbolism!
It's a great addition to your copper and brass bladed Philippine dagger/knife collection!

Best regards,
Detlef
Sajen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd August 2018, 05:29 PM   #5
Robert
EAAF Staff
 
Robert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Centerville, Kansas
Posts: 2,138
Default

Hello Detlef, And thank you for your kind words and interest in this unusual piece. As these copper bladed daggers seem to be few and far between and even less common than their brass/bronze counterparts. I was extremely happy to have been able to acquire this piece for my collection. I have added a photo to my original posting that was graciously given me by Lorenz (AKA Migueldiaz) in reference to another piece in my collection that helps explain some of the symbolism used on this piece. Finding any information on these copper bladed knives and daggers has proven to be difficult to say the least.


Best,
Robert
Robert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd August 2018, 02:59 PM   #6
Sajen
Member
 
Sajen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Germany, Dortmund
Posts: 6,455
Default

Robert and I am have dicussed his new addition to his great collection by mail before and coming to the so called "catmon" flower symbol found on many Philippine blades, sometimes at the handle, sometimes at the scabbard.
We found that the real natural catmon flower has five petals, see first picture. The most catmon flowers I've found on my weapons show only flowers with four petals, only one has indeed five petals.
Shown are at first a flower on the handle of a Bicol blade, next is one on the scabbard from my tres kantos dagger, two one on the leather throat of one of my binangons from the Visayas and at last a four petal flower on one of my Moluccas shields. The last picture shows a flower with five petals on the handle of my ram head sword from Luzon.
Any opinions about this? Are the four petal flowers are indeed catmon flowers? Or this are other flowers?

Regards,
Detlef
Attached Images
      
Sajen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2018, 01:11 AM   #7
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Posts: 2,545
Default

Sajen,

I think we may be looking at depictions of more than one type of flower. As shown on the leather throat of your Visayan sword, one of these representations has a central round area and what appear to be the leaves that surrounded the pod from which the petals emerged, as shown in the picture of a catmon flower that you present. However, the carving adjacent to it looks different--there is no central round area and the pod leaves are missing. Looks like two different plants to me. In other depictions, some show a circular center and other do not. It is also curious that carvers would get the number of petals wrong consistently.

The five-petal example you show really does look like a catmon flower, so why the mistakes on other examples? Strange.

Ian.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2018, 01:33 AM   #8
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Posts: 2,545
Default

In thinking about four-petal flowers of significance in Filipino culture, there is the Santan flower that has some importance--see http://www.psst.ph/top-7-flower-sym...gs-philippines/.

Quote:
Santan or Ixora coccinea The flowering plants are normally planted near the entrance of one’s house. People believe that the blooming santan can ward off evil spirits and is a good luck plant when grown in large numbers. Flowers are also offered to young maidens which symbolizes the burning passion for their career and love. Recently , there is growing trend among bonsai hobbyists to use them as material for bonsai. This plant is easily grown through cuttings.
Commonly grown as a low hedge throughout the Philippines. Picture attached.

Ian.
Attached Images
 

Last edited by Ian : 24th August 2018 at 01:45 AM.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2018, 03:00 AM   #9
Battara
EAAF Staff
 
Battara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 5,992
Default

On this talismanic dagger I think it is great!

I still wonder what they were for and how, though there were many para-religious/military groups around the turn of the century who fought against the Spanish.

A note: on the barong with ivory and damaging at the top of Lorenz's chart/picture, I offer another symbolic interpretation. This barong is mine and these triangles could also be bamboo shoots. Yes, bamboo shoots. (see picture) In neighboring Indonesia, these are stylistically used on textiles, weapons, and other metal wear. Indonesians, genetic/cultural/linguistic cousins to those in the Philippines, are closer still to the Sulu and other Moro peoples. They state that this is the origin of the motif. Now there may be a double entendre in use here in that the Philippine mentality of the triangle representing earth/sea/sky may also be involved.
Attached Images
 
Battara is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2018, 03:17 AM   #10
Robert
EAAF Staff
 
Robert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Centerville, Kansas
Posts: 2,138
Default

Ian,
Thank you very much for your help in possibly identifying the proper name of the flower with four pointed petals seen on this dagger. Then by pointing out that "People believe that the blooming santan can ward off evil spirits and is a good luck plant" could also easily explain why these flowers are seen carved into the scabbards and hilts of many of the Philippine edged weapons that we see. Now if we could identify another flower with four more rounded petals that is also considered to be good luck or protection from evil it would explain the other flower found on the above dagger.

Best,
Robert
Robert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2018, 06:46 AM   #11
Robert
EAAF Staff
 
Robert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Centerville, Kansas
Posts: 2,138
Default

For anyone interested, here is some interesting information that I came across quite by accident. While the wife was in the hospital last year and l was left unsupervised to fend for myself (which is always a bad idea) I had gone to a little café/restaurant on I-69 outside of Pleasanton Kansas and was having coffee when an younger (most likely in their 40's) Philippine couple with an older gentleman came in for lunch and to rest a bit on their way to Oklahoma where I found later that they lived. They were driving back from KCI airport where they had picked up the younger mans Grandfather for a visit. Though it did seem a bit odd at the time I refrained from asking why he hadn't taken a flight where he would have landed closer to where they lived, but was later happy that he had not. After I overheard them talking about his flight from the Philippines I politely introduced myself and told them that I had a very good friend that lived there who like myself was an edged weapons collector. I explained that one of my main interests was the use of brass and copper bladed knives and daggers as talismans and ask if they might know or be able to tell me anything them. The older gentleman responded that though he had never owned one himself that he had in fact seen ones that had been owned by friends years ago. As I had just received a new example (I will take and post photos of it as soon as it quits raining here) I asked if they thought that they might to be there long enough for me to retrieve it for him to see. As they had not even received their orders they said that they would be happy to wait for a few minutes after they finished eating for me to return. This dagger has a double edged copper blade with a diamond cross section and a narrow groove cut almost the full length down the center of one side of the blade. When I returned and unwrapped it I started to hand the dagger to the Grandfather, but he motioned for me to place it on the table instead. He looked at it and then turned the dagger to where the blade was not pointing at anyone before he carefully picked it up. He then explained that he had seen a dagger like this before when he was a young man. He explained that he had been told that this type of dagger would be used to kill or disable a mangkukulam or witch (I looked up how to spell it later). He then told me that the groove would have been filled with a poison made from a certain type of spider and depending upon how strong the witch was if they (the witch) were to be stabbed or even cut by its blade that they would either die or they would loose their power preventing them from doing the daggers owner any future harm. By the way he acted next I was starting to believe that he might have had more than just a passing acquaintance with items such as this. After he had finished looking at it he placed the dagger back on the table and again positioned it to where the blade was not pointing directly at anyone. The grandson who had been looking with interest at the dagger started to reach for the dagger in an attempt to pick it up but the older gentleman grabbed his arm and said something to him I did not hear well enough to understand, but after this he did not try to touch it again. A few minutes later after having discussed the weather (always a topic for conversation in the country) the younger man said that it had reached the time for them to continue on their journey home. I politely thanked the older gentleman for sharing the knowledge he had of these items and then them all for being kind enough to wait for me while I left to retrieve it. As they were leaving I had a chance to ask the younger man what his Grandfather had said to him when he had reached to pick up the dagger. His reply was that his Grandfather had told him that he did not possess the power to be handling an item such as this.
I hope that this has been of some interest and has added a bit more information to the little we now have on these unusual items.

Best,
Robert
Attached Images
  

Last edited by Robert : 27th August 2018 at 08:00 AM.
Robert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2018, 02:11 PM   #12
Sajen
Member
 
Sajen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Germany, Dortmund
Posts: 6,455
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
In thinking about four-petal flowers of significance in Filipino culture, there is the Santan flower that has some importance--see http://www.psst.ph/top-7-flower-sym...gs-philippines/.

Commonly grown as a low hedge throughout the Philippines. Picture attached.


Hi Ian,

most interesting and informative! This would explain also why the petals are carved pointed. Thank you very much for this lesson!

Regards,
Detlef
Sajen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th August 2018, 02:16 PM   #13
Sajen
Member
 
Sajen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Germany, Dortmund
Posts: 6,455
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
I think we may be looking at depictions of more than one type of flower. As shown on the leather throat of your Visayan sword, one of these representations has a central round area and what appear to be the leaves that surrounded the pod from which the petals emerged, as shown in the picture of a catmon flower that you present. However, the carving adjacent to it looks different--there is no central round area and the pod leaves are missing. Looks like two different plants to me. In other depictions, some show a circular center and other do not. It is also curious that carvers would get the number of petals wrong consistently.

The five-petal example you show really does look like a catmon flower, so why the mistakes on other examples? Strange.


Exactly what I want to know and thought byself and the reason why I asked about this. Again, thank you very much!

Detlef
Sajen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th August 2018, 01:44 AM   #14
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Posts: 2,545
Default

Robert, what a fascinating story! The older man must have been familiar with many of the customs and traditions of the "old ways." Clearly these brass bladed weapons have a powerful history.

There is a long tradition in many cultures of the power of simply pointing a weapon (or other item, such as a bone) at someone who will then die. In Australian aboriginal culture it is a bone. This topic might be a good idea for a new thread if someone who is more knowledgeable about it than I am would care to start one.

Ian.
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th August 2018, 04:32 AM   #15
Robert
EAAF Staff
 
Robert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Centerville, Kansas
Posts: 2,138
Default

Ian,
I like your idea for a new thread and hope that (as you have suggested) that someone more knowledgeable on the subject will choose to start one.
Here is another interesting story that was sent to me as a response when I had inquired about information on brass/copper daggers on another venue. The information offered in the reply I was told was attributed to the senders Grandfather. Here is what was sent;
"My Grandfather once told me that in Zamboanga City it is believed that you should carry a bronze knife at night as it can harm and chase away evil spirits and that if you do see a ghost or evil spirit ahead of you that you should turn around and stab the blade of the knife into the ground in front of you while reciting an incantation." Unfortunately the person who passed on this information to me told me he had no idea of what the incantation was and never replied to any other questions I tried to ask later. More information that appears to be related to this comes through a friend who talked to an anthropologist in the Philippines who in essence explained that brass or bronze is highly regarded spiritually because evil spirits are afraid of that alloy, being a metal concocted by man and not by nature. He also went on to say that even those brass/bronze dots on kris and kampilan etc. can be traced to that belief - that is, those dots are talismanic, being made of such alloy.
Something similar to stabbing a brass blade into the ground to chase away evil sprits that I was told is that it is a well established belief in Indonesian that if one wants to harm an enemy all he has to do is to take his keris and stab the footprints on the ground made by his enemy.


Best,
Robert
Robert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th August 2018, 08:10 AM   #16
Robert
EAAF Staff
 
Robert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Centerville, Kansas
Posts: 2,138
Default

I have added two photos of the copper bladed dagger that I had shown to and was then given some very interesting information about by the older Philippine gentleman I met last year. Sorry about the poor quality.

Best,
Robert
Robert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th August 2018, 02:01 PM   #17
Battara
EAAF Staff
 
Battara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 5,992
Default

FANTASTIC! 😃

Great info and now we may have answered the riddle of purpose and meaning to this type of blade.

Great work!

Maraming Salamat Robert!
Battara is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th August 2018, 04:49 AM   #18
Robert
EAAF Staff
 
Robert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Centerville, Kansas
Posts: 2,138
Default

Quote:
Great info and now we may have answered the riddle of purpose and meaning to this type of blade.


Jose, Thank you very much for your kind words about what has been posted here on these brass/copper bladed pieces, but Lorenz deserves more of the credit for this than I. He has always freely shared with me any and all information that he has been able to uncover over the years on these pieces. The meaning of the symbolisim used and purposes that they were believed to have been created for. I believe that this is only a starting point in trying to understand these and their place in Philippine culture and beliefs.

Ian, I noticed something unusual in the photo you posted of the Santan flowers. In the bottom right hand corner (cropped photo below) you can plainly see that one of the blooms has five petals instead of four as seen on all of the others. This makes me wonder if this might have any sugnificence and like a four leaf clover be concidered extra lucky?


Best,
Robert
Attached Images
 
Robert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th August 2018, 09:49 PM   #19
Ian
Vikingsword Staff
 
Ian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Posts: 2,545
Default

Quote:
... Ian, I noticed something unusual in the photo you posted of the Santan flowers. In the bottom right hand corner (cropped photo below) you can plainly see that one of the blooms has five petals instead of four as seen on all of the others. This makes me wonder if this might have any significance and like a four leaf clover be considered extra lucky?

Could be!
Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 10:29 AM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.