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Old 29th September 2019, 05:03 AM   #1
Lee
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Question Kris behind glass

Here are a few images of a kris on display in an important museum. For now, I'll not prejudice the discussion with details from the museum's descriptive tag.
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Old 29th September 2019, 10:21 AM   #2
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I wouldn't be surprised if the museum description is completely wrong.
I have seen so many already...
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Old 29th September 2019, 10:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
Here are a few images of a kris on display in an important museum. For now, I'll not prejudice the discussion with details from the museum's descriptive tag.


OK but you can prejudice us with your own thoughts...
As it is, it's a bit difficult to understand.
Marius the problem is not the museums but the curators.
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Old 29th September 2019, 03:14 PM   #4
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Well, it’s the museums, too: More often than not, the curators don‘t receive enough resources and allotted time to really do research work on the collections!

And since doing comparative in-depth studies on material culture has been considered out of vogue, too often folks with plainly unsuitable research interests have been appointed as curators...

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Kai
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Old 29th September 2019, 03:19 PM   #5
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Ok, Lee, I’ll bite.

From the pics, I’d suggest that this kris is Sulu and from the second half of the 19th century.

It seems to exhibit some unusual details though - looking forward to hearing more about it!

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Kai
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Old 29th September 2019, 06:42 PM   #6
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I agree with Kai on the dating bus would suggest that this could be Maguindanao. The fret work on the ganga is Maguindanao and the “eagle/elephant” front part of the ganga is perpendicular to the ganga lines, though it might appear a little slanted.

The Igorot axe looks Bontoc to me (possibly early?).

The kampilan throws me. I can't see any okir on it. It does remind me of one from Borneo. Again I'm not sure of it's origin. I do like the tiger bell on it.

Last edited by Battara : 30th September 2019 at 04:40 AM.
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Old 30th September 2019, 09:46 AM   #7
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Hi Lee:

That's a nice example that has been very well cleaned and maintained. I agree with the comments so far, although I think the carving of the blade is exceptionally good for Moro work--very refined. This one could be Malay in origin, or the blade could even be from Bali and rehilted in the Moro style. I'd say this was owned by, or presented to, someone important.

Ian.
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Old 30th September 2019, 10:15 AM   #8
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Hi Lee.

So, what did the tag say? I'm guessing it was not terribly accurate.

I have a Burmese Dha that was called an Egyptian Machete. Was it that far off? Or worse...
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Old 30th September 2019, 11:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
This one could be Malay in origin, or the blade could even be from Bali and rehilted in the Moro style.


Hello Ian,
It's for sure not a Bali keris blade.

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Detlef
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Old 30th September 2019, 04:37 PM   #10
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I’m with Detlef - not Bali. I did consider the Melayu realm (they seem to have accepted influences from all Moro styles) and Maguindanao though.

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Kai
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Old 30th September 2019, 04:58 PM   #11
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Hello Jose,

Quote:
The fret work on the ganga is Maguindanao and the “eagle/elephant” front part of the ganga is perpendicular to the ganga lines, though it might appear a little slanted.

The last pic is taken at a slanted angle; the intermediate shot seems to be much better to assess the configuration at the base of the blade: For a later blade, the beak/trunk not being parallel to the gangya doesn’t seem to suggest a Maguindanao origin IMHO. Close call though...

Lee, any estimate of blade length?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 1st October 2019, 08:53 AM   #12
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This kris is in the Museo del Ejército (Army Museum) in Toledo, Spain. My thoughts on its age were similar to those expressed above, despite the fact that I have long carried a strong suspicion that some kris and budiak specimens are significantly older than we believe. I included the kampilan and Igorot axe for scale, I'd say this kris is little smaller than most, but not by that much.

This is why I present this example with a documented date of presentation of 1835 and entry shortly thereafter into the museum.
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Old 1st October 2019, 06:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
This kris is in the Museo del Ejército (Army Museum) in Toledo, Spain. My thoughts on its age were similar to those expressed above, despite the fact that I have long carried a strong suspicion that some kris and budiak specimens are significantly older than we believe. I included the kampilan and Igorot axe for scale, I'd say this kris is little smaller than most, but not by that much.

This is why I present this example with a documented date of presentation of 1835 and entry shortly thereafter into the museum.
Thanks Lee.

It's very helpful to have these well provenanced pieces to guide dating our collections. In looking at this one and the dates indicated, it's perhaps easier to see some of the features that point to this period. For example, the slightly wider blade than what we typically see on kris pre-1800 might reflect a transition towards the heavier and wider Maguidanao kris of the second half of the 19th C.

As noted above, the unusually well carved blade suggested ownership by a prominent datu. One thing we often overlook is the relationship between Moro groups and the Sultanate of Brunei. The latter was very influential among the Moro groups of the 19th C and earlier, and it is possible that this blade was made in Brunei. That might explain some of the refined carving that suggests to me a possible Malay connection.

Ian
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Old 2nd October 2019, 05:22 PM   #14
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Hello Lee,

Thanks for your effort! Like with archaic kris, our chronological understanding of the development seems to be not too far off the mark; absolute dating is still very much open to debate though and any well-documented data added to our understanding do help to better adjust the time line to reality.

Datu Dacula never had control over Jolo and (all of) Mindanao; his power base was Sibugay, a part of the Zamboanga peninsula. While he was actively involved in the intra-Maguindanao struggles during the (late period of) decline and fragmentation of the former Maguindanao empire, I believe his lasting suzerainty was pretty much confined to the southern coast of the peninsula. The Spanish were very well aware of the general situation and infighting; good ol’ Capitan Halcón was probably being a bit facetious with the provided info when donating this piece to the museum… 😉

The ports of the Moro community on Zamboanga were pretty much melting pots with considerable cultural influence from Sulu (Tausug, Yakan), Iranum, Maguindanao, as well as more distant regions like Brunei or the Visayas.

While the piece certainly seems to be high quality, I don’t see any features that I’d be tempted to interpret as clearly suggesting any Melayu origin. It is from a period when Maguindanao style was already fully established. Much more likely seems some mixing of styles from additional Sulu influence IMHO.

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Kai
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Old 2nd October 2019, 11:40 PM   #15
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What intrigued me is the hilt of the Kris. It is different and some claim it to be from Tawi-Tawi, part of the Sulu Archipelago closest to Borneo.
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Old 3rd October 2019, 11:43 PM   #16
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Hi Jose:

Can you amplify on what features suggest a Tawi Tawi origin for the hilt?

Ian
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What intrigued me is the hilt of the Kris. It is different and some claim it to be from Tawi-Tawi, part of the Sulu Archipelago closest to Borneo.
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