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Old 3rd October 2019, 07:35 PM   #1
Ian
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Default Plain old Moro kris

This Moro kris was brought back home from WWII by a US soldier. How that soldier came by it is unknown, but it was put away on his return and not discovered until after his death in 2015. So we know it was not used in at least the last 70+ years.

The blade shows areas of staining and (mostly) stable oxidation. The “elephant trunk” has broken off, and that occurred some time ago. The carved area of the guard (gangya) suggests a Maranao origin (according to Robert Cato’s book). The hilt is wood with a smooth, polished, and damaged/repaired pommel, with a cord wrapping on the handle (sooang) and two “stirrups” (baka baka) securing the hilt to the blade. The simple, utilitarian scabbard is wooden with two areas of cord wrapping, and part of the throat (sampir) has broken off.

There is nothing at all fancy about this sword. As far as age, I think it is probably quite old, perhaps dating from the first half of the 19th C. It is fairly small for a Moro kris, measuring 23 inches overall and having a blade length of 18 inches. This size is similar to archaic kris that are described elsewhere on this forum, and generally smaller than Maranao kris of the late 19th C.

The condition of the hilt suggests to me that it has been well handled and used. The small rounded pommel is highly polished and smooth, consistent with frequent handling. The cord wrap on the hilt is stained and frayed, again consistent with use. A small pommel such as this would also mean that the hilt would not get snagged when drawing it from the scabbard or during use, a convenient trait for a fighting piece.

If blades could talk this one would have some interesting stories to tell. The venerable old warrior has been retired, and I have debated whether to clean it up or leave it as it came. I think I like it more this way and have simply removed the red rust and given it a good oil.

It's not often that plain fighting Moro kris like this one survive 150+ years and end up in a collection. Kris with nice blades or hilts, or have other features that suggest "prestige," tend to be held on to longer and end up being available for collectors to buy. Within the culture, heirloom kris retained within a family may be exceptions to this general observation.

Ian

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Old 3rd October 2019, 11:15 PM   #2
kai
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Hello Ian,

IMVHO this clearly is a Sulu blade. (This also vibes much better with the size, double clamps, and possibly small pommel.)

This type with the 2 demarcating lines extending from the lower jaw closer towards the midline of the blade usually exhibits an obvious angle (i.e. not parallel to the katik/gangya line); yours are a bit crudely cut which obscures the angle somewhat. This type also often has a kind of bulge below the jaw - this feature may well predate the Maranao style. Like the Maguindanao style, we find Sulu pieces with basically the same features but not in the typical configuration as expected on Mindanao...

Considering the scanty evidence, not much is graven in stone yet...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 3rd October 2019, 11:53 PM   #3
Ian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
...
This type with the 2 demarcating lines extending from the lower jaw closer towards the midline of the blade usually exhibits an obvious angle (i.e. not parallel to the katik/gangya line); yours are a bit crudely cut which obscures the angle somewhat. This type also often has a kind of bulge below the jaw - this feature may well predate the Maranao style. Like the Maguindanao style, we find Sulu pieces with basically the same features but not in the typical configuration as expected on Mindanao...

Regards,
Kai
Hi Kai,

Thanks for the additional information. One of my reasons for putting this one up was a follow-up to Lee's example that he posted recently from the Spanish museum. Here we have, I think, another early 19th C piece. Would you agree with that dating?

Ian.
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