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Old 20th September 2018, 05:07 PM   #1
CharlesS
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Default Another Oddity From the Philippines

This sword seems to have a little touch of something for everyone...a kriss style blade, a horn hilt that has hints of a barong hilt with a touch of European flavor, an unusual guard with real silver bolster, an engraved floral motif at the forte, and an all wood scabbard carved in the Visayan style!

Based on looks I am rather sure it is post-1930 and made for God knows who!

The quality is respectable, but not great. Upon first seeing it I thought it had to be a tourist piece, but there seems to be to much time and effort not to mention the quality of materials for a tourist piece. It is a bit awkward to handle but is an adaptable fighter.

Comments welcomed.

Dimensions:
Overall length: 33in.
Blade length: 25in.
Width of the blade's center:1.75in.
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Old 20th September 2018, 08:36 PM   #2
Ian
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Thumbs up Interesting

Hi Charles:

Another interesting item! The quality of workmanship and the fit of the hilt to the blade looks good, but I think there has likely been assistance from power tools in the manufacture of both the sword and its scabbard.

On first looking at the blade it might be thought to be an old one, perhaps even early 19th C. The luc are smooth and well formed, with a graceful taper towards the tip. However, there is no sign of any of the usual carving along the edge of what would once have been the gangya area. Also, the length of the blade you state to be 25 in (plus an inch or two for the rest of the gangya would put the overall blade length at 26-27 in if this were originally a Moro blade). That is much too long for one of the older Moro kris, and among the longest blades of any kris that I have seen. Based on the length alone, I think this blade was likely not made by a Moro craftsman, while the absence of evidence of the carved edge of the gangya adds to my belief this was made outside the Moro culture. Lastly, the lightly engraved okir-like motifs at forte just don't look right for Moro work. I've seen quite a lot of Maranao/Maguindanao okir work that is similar, but this seems to be a copy. The engraving is quite shallow, more "delicate" and less well defined than those cultures. I would defer to Battara's opinion on the engraving, but I don't think it is Moro.

A couple more points on the blade. It is obviously mounted on the hilt upside down. While this is not uncommon for swords coming on to the market (especially eBay), it is again inconsistent with a Moro weapon and suggests a different culture has assembled the sword. Also, I cannot see any lamination to the blade. Have you etched it yet?

Where else in the Philippines could this blade come from? The obvious answer is the Ilokano in northern Luzon, who certainly make similar wavy-bladed knives in this style, including a central ridge to the blade. However, I have never seen one approaching this length from the Ilokano. The forging of the blade--and especially the asymmetric forte resembling a gangya plus the broad smooth luc--are not typical of (many) Ilocano wavy-bladed knives IMO.

The hilt and guard are very odd. The grip seems to be made of wood or horn, judging from the chip on the pommel and a number of other small areas. The fine checkering on the grip is very reminiscent of work done on good quality gun stocks and is highly atypical of any Filipino style. The attempt to imitate a kakatua pommel is not in any traditional Filipino style that I can recall. The small silver ferrule is rather nondescript and occasionally seen on better pieces from Luzon--perhaps of Ilokano manufacture, but could be from just about anywhere. The guard shape is not clear from the pictures, but it appears to be quit thin. Is it steel or silver?

The scabbard is not typical of any particular Filipino culture. It could be a vague copy of a Visayan style. I can see no carving marks around the throat of the scabbard where the curved area has been cut out, and the wood overall seems to have been sanded to a very smooth finish. The broad rattan strips holding the scabbard together are similar to the style used by northern Luzon highland cultures (Igorot, etc.).

To sum up, IF this sword and scabbard were made in the Philippines (I think they were, but they could have been a "project" from a Western swordmaker) I think the package was probably assembled in central/northern Luzon for a non-Filipino customer who was willing to pay for silver mounts. The checkered hilt was likely done by a Western gunsmith. Maybe this was a bring back by an American serviceman stationed at Clark AFB or Subic Bay. The hilt might have been checkered by one of the gunsmiths at the base.

Just a few random thoughts and observations, Charles. As always, you challenge us with these atypical items. As far as age, I think probably mid-20th C. I would like to hear from Battara about this one.

Cheers,

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 20th September 2018 at 10:27 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 20th September 2018, 11:35 PM   #3
Rafngard
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Hello All,

I was another bidder on this, but I forgot to bid higher ;-)
I was hoping that someone on the forum picked this one up.
A cool, unique find! Consider me jealous.

It's not a major resemblance, but there's a structure near the top of the scabbard that reminds me of the wooden hanger on a Philippine knife of mine posted here.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=21718

Both Jose and Ian thought this one might be from Bicol.

Hopefully this helps

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 21st September 2018, 03:39 AM   #4
Battara
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I might also place this blade as Visayan or even Ilokano due to the type of "okir" floral motif inlays. The style of luks in the blade and the "ganga" also make me think this, though these are not as strong for me as the "okir motif. Also the engraving as Ian says is more delicate and precise, as in Spanish influenced engraving.

What I find interesting is the hilt which looks like it comes from an old WWII OSS bolo hilt with a slight modification at the top end. OSS hilts were based on the sarimanok designs of the barong and kris. If not OSS, then a copy of the OSS taking it back in the opposite direction towards the Moro (the European scroll at the back end)

I would not be surprised if the ensemble were placed together in WWII.
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Old 21st September 2018, 06:48 PM   #5
Ian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
I might also place this blade as Visayan or even Ilokano due to the type of "okir" floral motif inlays. The style of luks in the blade and the "ganga" also make me think this, though these are not as strong for me as the "okir motif. Also the engraving as Ian says is more delicate and precise, as in Spanish influenced engraving.
Thanks Jose. I was hoping you would come to the same conclusion on the engraving--a Spanish influence makes sense.

Quote:
What I find interesting is the hilt which looks like it comes from an old WWII OSS bolo hilt with a slight modification at the top end. OSS hilts were based on the sarimanok designs of the barong and kris. If not OSS, then a copy of the OSS taking it back in the opposite direction towards the Moro (the European scroll at the back end)
Yes, those old WWII-era U.S. adaptations of a barung are really hard to find. I had one once but it went as a result of theft many years ago. If I recall correctly, the checkered grip was made from hard rubber.

Quote:
I would not be surprised if the ensemble were placed together in WWII.
Good possibility.
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