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Old 25th August 2020, 04:56 AM   #1
Robert
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Default Unusual Ilongot Work Knife/Weapon

As I have been absent from the forum for awhile I thought that this might make a nice piece for discussion. I picked this up a few weeks ago and even though I have not had time to to give it a proper cleaning and because of the rarity of these pieces thought I would post it as it arrived. It was misidentified and listed as a Moro panabas instead of an Ilongot "eyaya" in the auction description. For some reason even though it appeared to have
quite a few watchers the auction ended with this piece selling for what I considered a very low price. The wooden scabbard is in very nice condition
and appears to retains most if not all of its brass wire decorations. Of all the twisted wire with red bead and shell decoration only two appear to be missing and another is missing only the small shell piece at its end. Replacement pieces should be easy enough to make. The knifes hilt is wood covered with a combination of round copper and twisted brass wire. It also has a guard/ferrule made from a piece of highly polished bone. The blade has unfortunately suffered from years of neglect and will requite a bit of serious
cleaning. I apologize for the poor photo quality as I used a camera that I am not familiar with. Any comments or information offered would be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Robert
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Old 25th August 2020, 07:40 AM   #2
kai
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Wow, Robert, that's a super-rare grab, and a bargain at that!

Congrats!

Did you try to obtain more on its provenance?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 25th August 2020, 06:04 PM   #3
Robert
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Hello Kai, and thank you for your kind words on what I consider to be one of my best finds. Right after the auction had ended I sent the seller an email asking for any information that he might have on this other than what was stated in the auction description. Unfortunately I had never heard back from him. After your question about provenance I decided to send another request for information and hopefully someone will respond this time. I know of a few other Ilongot items that have been discussed here on the forum in the past so when starting this thread I was also hoping others members who have examples tucked away in their own collections might dust them off and post them here as well. Below is the description as posted by the seller.

Auction Description.

Antique Tribal Filipino War Philippines 19 Century Moro Sword w Scabbard
Panabas
Up For Auction Is
Original Antique 19th Century Filipino Panabas Sword With Scabbard,.
Sword is approx 15" long scabbard is approx 18" long.
Pieces will make a terrific object for any student or appreciators collection
of African art and artifacts.

Please see pics for condition.

Best,
Robert
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Old 25th August 2020, 07:20 PM   #4
colin henshaw
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Looks a very interesting old piece, congratulations.
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Old 25th August 2020, 10:24 PM   #5
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Nice. A different version.
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Old 26th August 2020, 12:41 AM   #6
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Hi Robert:

Nice piece indeed. The Ilongot knives and swords are hard to find. I believe this knife is used for the harvesting of rice. However, the scabbard seems particularly good for what may be a tool. Perhaps the scabbard was made for a different knife or this knife had other purposes (? ceremonial). The knife looks older than the scabbard.

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Old 26th August 2020, 02:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Perhaps the scabbard was made for a different knife or this knife had other purposes (? ceremonial).


Hello Ian, I wondered about this as well until the knife arrived and I had time to inspect it and the scabbard. The blade fits it perfectly so it was either made for this knife or for one of the same exact blade style, size and shape. Wooden scabbards were damaged and replaced often many times over the life of a blade. It would be almost impossible to state that this scabbard is the first one that was made for it. As for the possibly of this being for ceremonial use, from what I have read the Ilongot people loved to decorate not only their weapons but tools and other everyday items as well. You have also suggested that it could be for the harvesting rice and that very well could be true as it has the right blade profile. It could also be for general everyday use like the Moro sanggot/tuba knife. So without more exacting information one can only speculate as for what and how it was originally intended to be used. All I know for sure is "I LIKE IT"
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Old 26th August 2020, 02:34 AM   #8
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The first cutting of rice used to be an holy act throughout the archipelago.

Crafting well-decorated ceremonial tools for this purpose and safeguarding them as heirloom makes perfect sense to me.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 26th August 2020, 08:21 AM   #9
Robert
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Quote:
The first cutting of rice used to be an holy act throughout the archipelago.


Kai, This is something I had not heard before and definitely information I need to add to my data base.

Quote:
Crafting well-decorated ceremonial tools for this purpose and safeguarding them as heirloom makes perfect sense to me.


Makes sense to me as well. I just wish that there was some way to actually verify that this knife was in fact a ceremonial piece.

Best,
Robert
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Old 26th August 2020, 09:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert
... I just wish that there was some way to actually verify that this knife was in fact a ceremonial piece.
Not an unreasonable assumption at all. The knife seems very old judging from the piece of bone used for a "guard," and it has been rewarded with its own custom fit, newer scabbard. A simple tool probably would not be decorated in this manner or treated to a new, well made scabbard unless it was being used for a particularly important purpose. I'm somewhat familiar with rice harvesting in the north of Luzon, but had forgotten what Kai just noted, that the first harvest was an important event. I really think you have the answer, or as close to it as you may get.
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Old 26th August 2020, 05:49 PM   #11
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Oh I agree with you and Kai. Ceremonial rice knives would be in better dress.
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Old 27th August 2020, 04:33 AM   #12
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Thank you all very much for your kind words and thoughts on this most interesting, unusual and probably rare item. If it is the consensus that my latest treasure (even though not an actual weapon) was most likely used as a ceremonial rice harvesting knife I couldn't be happier. As we all know anything can be used as a weapon, but to me finding the original intended purpose of an item such as this is much more important. I now hope to someday find a photo or drawing of another example of this knife (or at least very similar) with a description of its use or (if you are going to dream you might as well dream big) an old photo showing one actually being used. My next project will be trying to find someone who can identify what animal the bone being used as a guard was originally from. I have now had two individuals suggest that there is a good chance that it could be human. Personally I would prefer to find that it is from a water buffalo instead. Any other comments or suggestions on this piece would also be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Robert
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Old 27th August 2020, 10:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert
... My next project will be trying to find someone who can identify what animal the bone being used as a guard was originally from. I have now had two individuals suggest that there is a good chance that it could be human. ...
From the shape of it, being somewhat triangular, it could be a human tibia. That was my first impression. The Ilongot were noted headhunters, a habit persisting well into the 20th C.
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Old 27th August 2020, 01:02 PM   #14
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Hello Robert,

Quote:
My next project will be trying to find someone who can identify what animal the bone being used as a guard was originally from.

There will be quite a few possible contenders to have "sponsored" this piece of bone. In its current condition, it is unlikely that a comparative analysis of the structure is feasible to yield any clear result.

I believe the only straightforward approach would be to test the DNA; this would need a small hole to be drilled into the bone. A sample could be taken from the inside alternatively. I guess though, you'd not be keen on having this ferrule temporarily removed from the hilt, too...

While it would be interesting to know the origin of the bone, I'm not sure it is of enough importance to initiate scientific analysis.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 27th August 2020, 06:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
The first cutting of rice used to be an holy act throughout the archipelago
Kai

I want to add Robert that this ceremony is not just a blessing but a guard against a troubled harvest. So in a sense it is a ceremonial weapon of sorts.
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Old 29th August 2020, 08:28 AM   #16
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Quote:
While it would be interesting to know the origin of the bone, I'm not sure it is of enough importance to initiate scientific analysis.


Kai, As I cringe at the thought of removing the bone guard to have holes drilled into it in an attempt to find out what or who it came from I must agree with you that knowing is just not that important.

Quote:
I want to add Robert that this ceremony is not just a blessing but a guard against a troubled harvest. So in a sense it is a ceremonial weapon of sorts.


Jose, Thank you very much for this new bit of information. Now I feel better about posting it here in the Ethno Weapons forum and not in the Misc forum where I originally thought to post it.

Thank you all once again for your thoughts on this piece.

Best,
Robert
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Old 11th October 2020, 01:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert
It was misidentified and listed as a Moro panabas instead of an Ilongot "eyaya" in the auction description.


Sorry for chiming in such late! What an interesting Ilongot blade! And I would agree with the others that it will be a ceremonial sickle. May I ask from where you have the name "eyaya"? Do you have further information?

Here a picture from my "takip ny bekur", an Ilongot bolo which was once discussed here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=ilongot

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 14th October 2020, 09:39 PM   #18
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Hello Detlef and thank you for adding your thoughts on this unusual knife. The name "Eyaya" comes from "Resource Management In Ancestral Lands The Bugkalots In Northeastern Luzon" By Dante M. Aquino. This was sent to me by our good friend Lorenz. There is another name also mentioned in this paper, one that I should have mentioned when I first posted this example. That name is "Kumpat" meaning curved scythe for harvesting rice. After reading the responses from everyone I now believe that Kumpat might be a more appropriate name for this knife. I wish that some day I could find an example such as the one you have in your link to go with mine.

Best,
Robert
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Old 15th October 2020, 09:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert
Hello Detlef and thank you for adding your thoughts on this unusual knife. The name "Eyaya" comes from "Resource Management In Ancestral Lands The Bugkalots In Northeastern Luzon" By Dante M. Aquino. This was sent to me by our good friend Lorenz. There is another name also mentioned in this paper, one that I should have mentioned when I first posted this example. That name is "Kumpat" meaning curved scythe for harvesting rice. After reading the responses from everyone I now believe that Kumpat might be a more appropriate name for this knife. I wish that some day I could find an example such as the one you have in your link to go with mine.


Hello Robert,

Thank you very much for clarification!

Regards,
Detlef
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