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Old 6th July 2020, 01:45 AM   #1
xasterix
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Default Chromed Bagobo datu kampilan

Here's a recent acquisition of mine, a chromed Lumad blade, pre-WW2. I only partially restored it as I was advised to leave the chrome alone. As you can see, parts of it have flaked off; I'm assuming that the dark part is the nickel underneath the chrome. Luckily the fittings are tight, the blade only had one major chip and a couple of minor chips, I'm almost done restoring the edge to cutting condition. The scabbard isn't as flamboyant as other samples, but functionally speaking, it looks ready to hold out for another century.

Thoughts and feedback are welcome. Also, I'm curious if anyone else has a chromed Lumad blade like mine, and if other samples also have what seems to be like twigs secured underneath the scabbard throat textile.
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Old 6th July 2020, 02:48 AM   #2
Battara
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Interesting piece. The hilt and pommel seem somewhat "recent". The mounts also look like white metal and not the traditional bronze.
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Old 6th July 2020, 03:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
Interesting piece. The hilt and pommel seem somewhat "recent". The mounts also look like white metal and not the traditional bronze.


Thanks for the input sir, I'm not knowledgeable in Lumad stuff so I appreciate any and all info I can get. The piece was bought in the 1970s, so by your estimate- what date would it probably have been made?

As far as I can tell- the scabbard fittings seem to be made of either brass or bronze (I can't tell the difference between the two yet, but when I cleaned the area with lemon juice the fittings turned copper-ish in color). However I can't make heads nor tails of the hilt ferrule material (the one with the inscriptions), it does seem like some sort of white metal.

Last edited by xasterix : 6th July 2020 at 03:55 AM.
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Old 6th July 2020, 10:57 PM   #4
David
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Interesting blade. But i am curious what you call it a kampilan and what aspects of this piece distinguish it as a datu weapon?
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Old 7th July 2020, 01:35 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by David
Interesting blade. But i am curious what you call it a kampilan and what aspects of this piece distinguish it as a datu weapon?


Greetings,

The Lumad people whom such weapons are associated call this a 'kampilan.' 'Campilan' is actually a general term way back pre-1900 (as far back as 1600s, if my memory is correct) to describe just about any long bladed weapon (and not specific to Maguindanao/Maranano kampilan).

As evidenced in pictures both past and present, only Lumad datu wear that kind of weapon with similar features. Hence it's a datu-exclusive traditional blade.
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Old 7th July 2020, 04:31 AM   #6
Ian
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Hi Xas,

I've been thinking about this one a bit before replying to your post. I've not seen chromium plating before on a Lumad piece. I have seen a nickel-plated kris blade, but not chromium. So that's a pretty unusual piece. The darker surface areas look like oxidized iron or steel to me--in other words rust--perhaps old and stabilized, or perhaps the reason why the blade was plated in the first place. Metal plating is an electrolytic process, and chromium plating usually requires a cyanide bath. Both of those features are fairly sophisticated (and dangerous) operations, not something you would find readily outside a major city or industrial area. I expect today you would find a chrome plating workshop in Davao City or perhaps Zamboanga, but going back to the 1970s or earlier I'm not sure. If you have a biker friend he might be able to tell you.

The form of the blade is one of the traditional fat-belly bolo shapes used by the Bagobo, and I think the shape goes back well over a hundred years and into the 19th C. As you note, it has a "distinguished" hilt with a decorative metal ferrule and a characteristic pommel with chains for hawk bells and perhaps a tiger bell, all of which indicate Bagobo datu status. The white metal could be aluminum (of WWII or later vintage), tin from biscuit containers or other similar sources, or various alloys of nickel, zinc and copper (white brass, a.k.a. nickel silver or German silver, is 60:20:20 of copper:nickel:zinc). I have found tin strips on the scabbards of both Bagobo and T'boli swords. These tribes are resourceful and waste nothing.

As to age, that's really hard to judge. The blade could be antique, but I think the scabbard and hilt may be WWII era, perhaps a little earlier or later. You know the piece was in its present form in the 1970s, so the ensemble predates then.
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Old 7th July 2020, 08:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Xas,

I've been thinking about this one a bit before replying to your post. I've not seen chromium plating before on a Lumad piece. I have seen a nickel-plated kris blade, but not chromium. So that's a pretty unusual piece. The darker surface areas look like oxidized iron or steel to me--in other words rust--perhaps old and stabilized, or perhaps the reason why the blade was plated in the first place. Metal plating is an electrolytic process, and chromium plating usually requires a cyanide bath. Both of those features are fairly sophisticated (and dangerous) operations, not something you would find readily outside a major city or industrial area. I expect today you would find a chrome plating workshop in Davao City or perhaps Zamboanga, but going back to the 1970s or earlier I'm not sure. If you have a biker friend he might be able to tell you.

The form of the blade is one of the traditional fat-belly bolo shapes used by the Bagobo, and I think the shape goes back well over a hundred years and into the 19th C. As you note, it has a "distinguished" hilt with a decorative metal ferrule and a characteristic pommel with chains for hawk bells and perhaps a tiger bell, all of which indicate Bagobo datu status. The white metal could be aluminum (of WWII or later vintage), tin from biscuit containers or other similar sources, or various alloys of nickel, zinc and copper (white brass, a.k.a. nickel silver or German silver, is 60:20:20 of copper:nickel:zinc). I have found tin strips on the scabbards of both Bagobo and T'boli swords. These tribes are resourceful and waste nothing.

As to age, that's really hard to judge. The blade could be antique, but I think the scabbard and hilt may be WWII era, perhaps a little earlier or later. You know the piece was in its present form in the 1970s, so the ensemble predates then.


Thanks for the very thorough assessment Ian - I was waiting for you to chime in! I agree with all your points - I too have a feeling that this was a remounted blade with relatively less bells and whistles, aesthetically speaking. I remember you describing how light and fast your piece is - and I finally understood that feeling, thanks to this sample, which is perfectly balanced and cuts swiftly.

Regards from the Philippines!
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Old 7th July 2020, 01:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xasterix
... I remember you describing how light and fast your piece is - and I finally understood that feeling, thanks to this sample, which is perfectly balanced and cuts swiftly. ...
That's a real bonus and makes me think that your blade is old. Of the dozen or so confirmed old Bagobo blades I've held, they all felt very light and "fast." I think this must come from the well-weighted hilt which balances the relatively light blade, creating a sense of wielding almost nothing in the hand. The blade is usually remarkably sharp and finely forged.

Perhaps this lighter type of weapon was favored by the Bagobo because they tend to be a small and slender race. Accounts by early U.S. anthropologists of the Bagobo noted the small and light frames of the men who had such fine facial features that they were hard to distinguish from women.

I've not studied systematically the balance points for older Bagobo swords, but I think it may be very close to the guard and therefore near the primary grip on the hilt between the forefinger and thumb. The shape of the hilt, which widens at the "pommel," encourages the gripping of the hilt to be close to the guard. The feel and balance is very different from a Moro barung, for example, which is distinctly blade heavy and has a more distal balance point. A barung can also be gripped further from the blade, accentuating the blade's weight and chopping power.

More recent Bagobo blades (WWII and later) that I have owned or seen generally had somewhat heavier blades than the antique forms. Whether this reflected a change in fighting style would be interesting to determine. I've not read or seen anything on the martial arts of the Bagobo.
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Old 8th July 2020, 05:20 PM   #9
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T'boli pieces have a similar balance as well, like he Bagobo.
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Old 9th July 2020, 09:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
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T'boli pieces have a similar balance as well, like he Bagobo.
Oh yes. Just like the Bagobo blades, a heavy metal hilt and light, short blade.
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