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Old 4th April 2020, 10:19 PM   #1
Ian
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Default Puzzling Filipino (?) bolo

I'm having trouble placing where this one may be from. I think it is from the Philippines, and at first sight I thought it may be from Bicol. However, the raised carved area on the front of the scabbard does not have a hole drilled through for a belt. My next thought was Mandayan, from Mindanao just north of Davao City, who have a fat bellied bolo with a scabbard that has an upturned toe, However, the blade does not have the characteristic small lower protrusion near the hilt that is present on their blades.

The blade is V-ground (not chisel ground) and has an unusual brass insert that looks like an axe. There is also an old collection tag on the scabbard that states it is Filipino. Provenance is unknown.

Overall length 19.5 inches
Length of blade 15 inches

Ian


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Last edited by Ian : 4th April 2020 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 4th April 2020, 11:39 PM   #2
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Hello Ian,

The corrosion / pitting seems to be present in the iron and the brass. Even on the edge of these 2 metals you see the same pitting.
This really strange, Is it brass ? Is it not a layer of old varnish or glue giving the metal a different colour ?

Nice piece btw.

Best regards and stay safe.
Willem
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Old 5th April 2020, 12:07 AM   #3
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Willem,

I see what you mean. This is definitely an insert into the blade as I can feel an edge to it that goes into the blade. The corrosion/oxidation does look a bit odd and I shall give it gentle clean in that area and let you know what I find.

Keep well too,

Ian
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Old 5th April 2020, 12:41 AM   #4
Battara
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The scabbard still looks Bicolano to me. Could this be WWII?

The brass could be talismanic.
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Old 5th April 2020, 12:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
The scabbard still looks Bicolano to me. Could this be WWII?

The brass could be talismanic.
Yes, I think WWII or maybe a little earlier. Talismanic is a possibility. My first thought was the inlay represented an axe, but it could depict a flag. A lot that's not clear about this one.
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Old 5th April 2020, 01:40 AM   #6
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Could the "inlay" be a piece of torn tape varnished over? Looks like a "shadow" on the blade where the removed tape may have been? Or is it just my old eyes?
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Old 5th April 2020, 07:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster
Could the "inlay" be a piece of torn tape varnished over? Looks like a "shadow" on the blade where the removed tape may have been? Or is it just my old eyes?
Ed,

You may be right. When I run a finger over the area it is slightly raised and smooth. Scratching the surface with a finger nail does not remove anything, but the blade appears to have been finished with a hard wax, probably silicone-based, which has hardened the surface and may be obscuring what is happening underneath.

Ian
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Old 5th April 2020, 08:36 AM   #8
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Agree, the scabbard look very Bicolano.

Intersting piece Ian!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 5th April 2020, 12:04 PM   #9
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Very interesting Ian. I am not sure I've seen a brass insert, aside from wire inlay, on a Filipino blade before.
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Old 5th April 2020, 12:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
I am not sure I've seen a brass insert, aside from wire inlay, on a Filipino blade before.


Hello Charles,

You forget examples like this: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...&highlight=bolo

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 5th April 2020, 08:26 PM   #11
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I still have my doubts about the inlay.

Look at the parts that I have marked.
There is pitting in the brass ? there is pitting on the edge of the iron/steel and the brass. Where have you ever seen that iron and brass are showing the exact sort of corrosion.
Also the file marks, they go smoothly from the iron into the brass.

Alao the shape of the inlay does not make sense.

I still go for varnish or glue remains.



Best regards,
Willem
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Old 5th April 2020, 09:43 PM   #12
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Thanks Willem. All good points, which are particularly apparent on the blown up picture. As noted previously, the blade has been treated with a hard substance and I can't get to the underlying surface without destroying that coating. Organic solvents have not helped. I think you are correct that it is likely something on the blade rather than an inlay.
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Old 5th April 2020, 11:56 PM   #13
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Several days ago, I sent these pictures to our fellow forumite, xasterix, for his opinion. I delayed putting his views up because I didn't want to bias the discussion. Here is what he said:

Quote:
I strongly suspect this to either be from Masbate or Northern Samar. Both of these areas are a sort of 'in-between' of Luzon and Visayas blades; I've seen that type of scabbard before from Masbate, but that blade type is also produced in Northern Samar. They simply call it 'Masbad' and is an oddity from their other blades, because it is their only V-grind (and not the usual chisel). I hope you don't mind, I showed it to a friend ... and he thinks it's from outside PH. So there you have two conjectures on that one.
Something further to think about. Personally, I believe this is a Filipino bolo. The intermediate position of Masbate between Bicol and the rest of the Visayas makes xas' suggestion appealing.

Ian.
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Old 6th April 2020, 01:28 AM   #14
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Great Bolo!
Now let me play detective as well. I believe what you see are the remains of scotch tape that covered a descriptive label about the item; over the years the tape yellowed. The tag was removed with the tape and thus you have the brass colored perimeter where the tape was left; the tag may even be the one now on the scabbard. Measure it and see if it fits.
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Old 7th April 2020, 05:23 AM   #15
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Masbate...........hmmm.

As I look at it again, I now think it is old tape instead of brass inlay. I can see corrosion or forging flaw underneath the tape.
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