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Old 30th January 2013, 05:11 AM   #1
prh345
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Default Kampilan Bolo - Bogobo or T'boli or a mixture?

I purchased this in Manilla in 1978 and it was identified by the curator of the museum in Manilla as a Bogobo Bolo from Mindanao. I was told that it had been confiscated from a native chief by the Davao police chief. It was of superior quality than anything held in the Manilla museum according to the curator, who showed me their collection and who provided me with an export certificate.

On and off for the last 30 years I have been researching the item, and it
seems perhaps it contains features of both Bogobo and T'boli. To me the blade and hilt appear to be T'boli but the bead work and fabric on the sheath from what I've seen appears more of the Bogobo style. Perhaps it was T'boli and captured or traded and then embellished more by the Bogobo?

According to the Museum curator, the chains on the hilt and sheath are mainly iron, but some that have fallen off have been replaced by the tribesmen by brass and later copper. Similarly, the ornaments at the ends of the chains are (he said) mainly originally native tin metal (?), with some lost ones replaced with aluminium, supposedly from WW2 crashed aircraft! Also 4 ornaments have been replaced with ones carved from a cream coloured plastic. They all have a well age patina. There are none of the hawk bells that the Bogobo seems to specialise in.

I find it interesting that the native owner has gone to a lot of effort to maintain the completeness by replacing lost bits with whatever was available in that time period. It seems that the very well made iron chain could not be duplicated in the more recently replaced parts. It is in the original condition when I bought it. I have had it on display from the last 34 years and surprisingly, there has been no sign of any corrosion occurring on the blade.

The blade is 17 1/2" (45cm) and 24" (61cm) overall.

Given the blade length, would it be considered a kampilan? I believe a "tok" is a highly decorated ceremonial version but has a longer 60-70cm blade according to the thread; http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Foru...L/000636-2.html

I am a newbie to these forums but from reading the threads it seems some of the senior members here are much more knowledgeable than me on the topic of T'Boli and Bogobo swords of Mindanoa.

Questions - T'boli or Bogobo or mixture?
Likely age?
Kampilan or Tok?
Would it have likely had hawks bells originally? (The curator said it would have probably had the native tin talismans - he didn't mentions bells.)

What would the metal wrappings likely be?
The curator said the sheet metal wrappings on the sheath are silver, but they have shown no tarnish typical of silver. They are engraved and there is no rust in the engraving which would have penetrated any plating - so not tin plated. I suspect the metal wrapping may be aluminium (again possibly from WW2 plane wreck?).

I would appreciate any opinions and comments on any aspect.

Thanks,
Peter
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Old 30th January 2013, 05:18 PM   #2
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A NICE EXAMPLE THAT SHOWS QUITE A RANGE OF DECORATION OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.
I HAVE NOT READ THE OLD POSTS ON THESE RECENTLY SO DON'T REMEMBER ALL THAT WAS POSTED THERE. I THINK THERE IS QUITE A LOT OF OVERLAPING BETWEEN BAGOBO AND TIBOLI ESPECIALLY AFTER AMERICA BECAME INVOLVED IN THE AREA. THE WHITE METAL APPEARS TO BE ALUMINUM SO LIKELY WW2 OF AFTER. THE BEADS APPEAR TO BE MORE RECENT ARE THEY PLASTIC OR SOMETHING ELSE? (PLASTIC IS CHEAPER AND NEWER BUT GOOD CERAMIC OR GLASS BEADS ARE STILL MADE TODAY TOO.)
THE FABRIC IS MORE RECENT TOO. THE SWORD AND SCABBARD AND TWO METAL TIPS ON THE SCABBARD APPEAR TO BE ORIGINAL. THE FANCY CHAINS ARE OLD BUT LIKELY ADDED FROM SOMETHING ELSE ALONG WITH THE BITS OF METAL. THE SAND CAST BRASS HANDLE IS TYPICAL OF WHAT WE ASSOCIATE WITH THE TIBOLI AND THE WOOD HANDLES WITH BRASS WE ASSOCIATE WITH BAGOBO BUT IT IS VERY LIKELY TRADE BETWEEN THE TWO AND PERHAPS EVEN A MIXING OF THE TRIBES INTO THE SAME AREA DUE TO PERSECUTION BY OTHER MORE POWERFUL GROUPS IN THE AREA. I UNDERSTAND SURVIVAL HAS BEEN DIFFICULT SINCE WW2 FOR THESE GROUPS. THE BLADE AND HANDLE WERE LIKELY MADE TOGETHER ARE TIBOLI TRADITIONAL FORM THE SCABBARD LOOKS MORE TRADITIONAL BAGOBO BUT APPEARS AS OLD AS THE SWORD. I WOULD NOT CALL THIS A KAMPILIAN BUT PERHAPS A TOK DUE TO ALL THE ADDED DECORATION ON THE SWORD.
THERE ARE MANY SWORDS THAT HAVE THINGS IN COMMON WITH THE KAMPILIAN BUT NONE HAVE THE LARGE SIZE AND HAVE DIFFERENT NAMES IN THE SOCIETYS WHERE FOUND.
HERE ARE PICTURES OF MOSTLY BAGOBO SWORDS WITH ONE TIBOLI NOTE THE TIBOLI SCABBARD IS NOT AS WELL FORMED OR DECORATED. TWO PICTURES FROM A PHILIPPINE BOOK UNFORTUNATELY I DON'T HAVE THE BOOK OR REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE BOOK PERHAPS ANOTHER MEMBER CAN GIVE US THE TITLE.
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Old 30th January 2013, 05:56 PM   #3
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I agree with Barry. The sword itself is T'boli and the scabbard could be Bagobo (it is certainly in line with Bagobo scabbards with Bagobo cloth and bead work).

You may want to etch it - I may be seeing signs of lamination in the blade. I am thinking that this may have been originally after the turn of the 20th century, but with what you said are later replacements.

Barry is also correct in that there was a lot of trade between the Bagobo, T'boli, and even the Moros.

A nice and interesting piece. Thank you for sharing it (Salamat!) and welcome to our little forum.
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Old 30th January 2013, 06:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VANDOO

TWO PICTURES FROM A PHILIPPINE BOOK UNFORTUNATELY I DON'T HAVE THE BOOK OR REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE BOOK PERHAPS ANOTHER MEMBER CAN GIVE US THE TITLE.


The book is titled "Treasures of the Davao Museum" from 2006.

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 30th January 2013, 07:27 PM   #5
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Here is my honest T'boli sword. The scabbard is very worn but I doubt that it is very old, maybe WWII area.
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Old 30th January 2013, 10:07 PM   #6
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On most T'boli scabbards I have noticed that there is a symbolic rice pounder on them as a talisman - it looks like an hour glass.

Below is an example of my piece. Notice the figures on the bottom of the scabbard are examples of what I am talking about.
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Old 31st January 2013, 01:40 PM   #7
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Smile Thanks to all!

I am amazed at the promptness and knowledge exhibited in the responses to my thread.

Vandoo;
-Regarding the beads, when I saw them in the Manilla antique shop in 1978 I too thought that they had been added to dress it up for sale. However, the curator (Attorney Villanueva at the National Museum) said no, that they (the Bogobo) have been using glass beads like this for centuries. He showed me a collection of beads from an archeological dig that were prehistoric - they looked identical. He stated they were glass and would be authentic. I have just carried out a microscopic examination of the beads and they vary in shape and size, are hand made and some have pitting and inclusions. They are threaded with and sewn onto the abaca cloth, with the same thread as in the abaca cloth. Microscopically, the age and grimy appearance and particulates in the beadwork matches the age and particulates of the abaca cloth - I believe they are contemporaneous.
According to; http://nlpdl.nlp.gov.ph:9000/shares...52mcd/v1/v5.pdf
the Bagobo were the first ethnic group encountered by the Spaniards at the end of the 19th century and they reported them using these beads on abaca cloth then. They are reported to have bought iron from the Muslims and bartered for beads from the Chinese. The beads found in Mindanao up till ca. 1450 are Chinese (ref. Asia's Maritime Bead Trade: 300 B.C. to the Present
By Peter Francis, Peter Francis (Jr.) The 4 small squarish bead designs are the Bogobo "star" motif according to the book Traditional Handicraft Art of the Phillipines by Roberto de los Reyes (1975)

Why do you believe the fabric covering on the scabbard is more recent?
The curator said the fabric was abaca and Bagobo and implied it was old and sought after in its own right. He described to me the tie dying of the thread and the weaving process and that it was an uncommon method.

I agree that the scabbard looks more Bagobo, than T'boli.

I agree with it being a tok. Several years ago I saw a TV news video relating to the muslim uprising, showing of a tribal chief (Datu) in Mindanoa, and he was brandishing one apparently identical to my specimen.

I agree that the metal fittings on the end of the chains would not have been original. Although the curator suggested they would be tin, the mineral ore cassiterite does not occur in Mindanao, so if it was tin then it must have been imported. I think they are aluminium, (they have a much lower density than tin) but they are older looking (more wear and patina) than the white metal sheet.

The white metal sheet on the scabbard has been hand engraved (microscopic examination of the tool marks show they have not been done with any sort of rotary tool). They are somewhat like the zig zag "lightning" motif of the Bagobo but the style is different and there is less wear. Thinking it was aircraft aluminium I checked in any depressed areas to try to find any of the typical yellow or light green paint that was applied to aircraft alloy in WW2, but couldn't find any.

Battara;
Regarding the possible lamination, I believe I can see signs within a zone of about 6mm from the cutting edge, a wavy appearance in some areas, almost like a harmon, and also under the microscope the steel in this area seems to have a different grain structure.

I read in The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao, by Fay-Cooper Cole (The Project Gutenberg eBook) that they do insert steel along the edge. She wrote "After an iron knife or spear head has been roughly shaped, the smith splits the edge to a slight depth and inserts a band of steel. The iron is pounded down on the harder metal and the whole is brought to a white heat in the charcoal fire. Removing it to the anvil the smith gives the blade one or two light blows and returns it to the fire. This is repeated many times before he begins to add the heavy strokes which finally weld the iron and steel together. The blade having been given its final shape is again heated and is held above a tube of water until the glowing metal begins to turn a yellowish green, when it is plunged into the cold water. This process, repeated many times, gives a fair temper to the whole weapon."
This could be the strip I think I can see along the edge.

You suggested etching to reveal the lamination - how would this affect the originality of the blade? I guess the Bagobo didn't etch the blades themselves so it would change the appearance somewhat?


Sajen,
I see your scabbard has the rice pounder motif carved into the wood that Battara shows in his photo. I suppose this absence on mine reinforces the idea that my scabbard is Bagobo.

Battara,
Your T'boli blade seems to have a scallop pattern, how do you think its formed? I assume its applied to the surface and not a relict of lamination?

To all - thanks so much for your input. It's spurred me on to more research myself!
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Old 31st January 2013, 08:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prh345
Sajen,
I see your scabbard has the rice pounder motif carved into the wood that Battara shows in his photo. I suppose this absence on mine reinforces the idea that my scabbard is Bagobo.


Peter,

like yourself, Jose(Battara) and Barry(Vandoo) I think that your tok scabbard look more Bagobo than T'boli.

BTW, a light etch with vinegar wouldn't be wrong, when you don't will like it or don't want it anymore just rub it away with steel wool.

Regards,

Detlef

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Old 1st February 2013, 02:48 AM   #9
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I agree with Detlef (Sajen) - The etch would be original since these were usually etched by both Moro, T'boli and Bagobo. It would give character to the blade and bring it to the original appearance (although these etchings did not last too long). If you use vinegar or lime juice, you will need to heat the blade a little and put it through several washes of these mild acids.

Oh yes the scallops on my T'boli blade were stamped after the forging of the blade.

And one more thing, the Bagobo do not seem to use the rice pounder motif, unlike the T'boli and the Igorot tribes on their shields in the north.
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Old 1st February 2013, 01:57 PM   #10
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Default Etching

Thanks,

I will try the vinegar etch and see what comes out. I'll post a photo of the results.

Regards,
Peter

Last edited by prh345 : 1st February 2013 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 3rd February 2013, 01:23 PM   #11
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Default After etching

Hi,
Well, I etched with lemon juice and it did reveal figuring structures which I guess is indicative of lamination?

It is particularly evident along the cutting edge. This seems to match up with the report I found that said they split the edge and inserted steel along the cutting edge. The ruler scale where you can see it is graduated in mm.

Is this what you expected to see?

Thanks,
Peter
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Old 3rd February 2013, 11:26 PM   #12
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Welcome, Peter,

Thanks for your well-researched thread!


Quote:
Well, I etched with lemon juice and it did reveal figuring structures which I guess is indicative of lamination?

Yes, definitely laminated! I think you can improve the eveness of the stain with another round of polishing and etching.


Quote:
It is particularly evident along the cutting edge. This seems to match up with the report I found that said they split the edge and inserted steel along the cutting edge.

Yes, the steel edge usually contrasts well with the lower-carbon iron. Have you checked the back of the blade? It is quite common to see traces of the steel core there, too (sandwich construction rather than inserted edge).

Regards,
Kai
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Old 4th February 2013, 12:55 PM   #13
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Default Etching

Hi Kai,

I'll follow your suggestion about re-polish and etch again and and see if anything shows up on the back edge.

This sandwich construction you mention is similar to the Japanese Katana fabrication method called "Sanmai" where the harder steel runs right through the middle of the blade. I have a Katana that uses this construction. Its only a modern Chinese version, (sadly the genuine article is way out of my reach) but still very well made and an excellent cutting blade.

Thanks for your input,
Peter
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