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Old 17th May 2024, 07:55 PM   #1
drac2k
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Default Moro Spearhead, but from what Battle?

I recently acquired this Moro Spearhead, with a partially torn tag attributing it to a specific battle; can anyone guess which one he is referencing?
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Old 17th May 2024, 08:09 PM   #2
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Hello David,

Sadly I can't help with the battle but I find the binding and the way of the attachment to the shaft most interesting and nice! Very nice Moro spear head!

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Detlef
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Old 17th May 2024, 08:30 PM   #3
Ian
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Hi drac.

I think the tag refers to one of the two battles between Americans and Muslims at Bud Dajo. Spelling mistakes or variations are common on these old tags.

Ian.
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Old 17th May 2024, 08:45 PM   #4
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If one wants to speculate, the Lake Danao area seems to be a phonetically better match.


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Kai
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Old 18th May 2024, 12:01 AM   #5
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Default Just Speculating

The fastenings of the spear head have a 'last ditch' look to them.
I'd guess that the shaft was cut to facilitate either easier transport from the Philippines or for hand-to-hand combat.
I have seen Budiak with an iron loop at the butt end and I believe this was to facilitate retrieval of the spear by an attached cord.
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Old 18th May 2024, 02:46 AM   #6
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Thanks to all for your excellent comments.Yes, I believe that the spear was cut down for easier transport home.
20 years ago I found a very similar spear, with comparable wire bindings which I will post this weekend. My theory is that these were siege spears for either attacking a fortified location or defending it;one would not want to lose a lance head thrusting it into something.Maybe the thick wire wrapping would ward off a blow from a sword that might sever the blade from the shaft.
I have two other Moro spears,with similar heads, and heavy 8' bamboo shafts ,not suitable for throwing : more like a pike.They do not have the wire binding.
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Old 18th May 2024, 12:40 PM   #7
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Always nice seeing another of these budiak spears! Here is an old thread with a few more examples where the head is wired to the shaft, though less robustly than the current example.
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Old 18th May 2024, 02:44 PM   #8
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Thanks , Lee for providing those examples;it is nice to know that it isn't just a random "one of."Do these "baled examples come from a particular area and do you have a theory as to why the exta wire is added?
The spearheads are not crude,but rather sophisticated,so is the wire an afterthought based on necessity or maybe just added during times of war?
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Old 18th May 2024, 03:23 PM   #9
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Bud Dajo (Tausug: Būd Dahu; Spanish: Monte Dajó)
In the photos it looks like the tag might have been Daho, not Dano and that the stem of the "h" wore away. If we consider the Tausug spelling and that the name is pronounced DA-ho, it would not surprise me that someone hearing the name would spell it "Daho". Remember that in Spanish, a "j" is pronounced as an "h".
If this is correct, there were two acknowledged Battles of Bud Dajo, the first in March, 1906 and the second December, 1911.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_Bud_Dajo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Bud_Dajo

There may have been fighting around Lake Danao, but i am not familiar with any battles that name the place specifically, so that seems less likely.
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Old 18th May 2024, 06:52 PM   #10
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Default Heirlooms, not late 19th century militaria

I think David is correct in reading the tag Daho.

I found two more in my brace of Southeast Asian spears that have a reinforcing tie of the head to the pole, one is again wire but the other is twine. Most of these lances have come from gun shows, so likely they are war souvenirs from the turn of the 20th century and, now that I am looking, at least a third in the collection have these reinforcements.

I'll agree in speculating that sometimes the heads were getting detached and that this would have been a "field modification" to prevent such failure. Next below are a couple of spearheads where the tang is visible and may be seen to not be especially long.

I have never been able to work out the chronology or geography of the various blade styles. I very strongly suspect that many are significantly older than is generally accepted and documented. Look at the dark brown patina on the exposed tangs: one uncovered over a hundred years ago while the blade remained bright and the other protected by resin until I dissolved it off. Then consider the patinated appearances of the tangs of Japanese swords which may be dated from signatures.
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Old 18th May 2024, 09:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee View Post
... I have never been able to work out the chronology or geography of the various blade styles. I very strongly suspect that many are significantly older than is generally accepted and documented. Look at the dark brown patina on the exposed tangs: one uncovered over a hundred years ago while the blade remained bright and the other protected by resin until I dissolved it off. Then consider the patinated appearances of the tangs of Japanese swords which may be dated from signatures.
I agree Lee. The variety and chronology are confusing. I've seen no study of dating these spears (other than an early attempt on this site).

In most cases, Moro war spears were used as thrusting rather than throwing weapons. At least this is what we see from the pictorial evidence of the late 19th and early 20th C. Some of them had unusually long shafts which appear to approach 5-6 meters in length. Adding to the confusion is that Lumad groups in the area often used similar heads on their combat spears. It is hard to know who borrowed from whom with some of the styles, although there appear to be one or two distinctively Moro versions. Simple, effective designs seem to have been copied freely.

As far as dating old Moro weapons, I agree completely. I think we often underestimate the age of Moro weapons that appear on these pages. It is tempting to label edged weapons from the area as late 19th C because they look older than when they were collected by Americans in the early 20th C. We don't have a clear idea of how old Moro weapons may be, or even when most of them came into existence. Spanish museums help a little with dating, but prior to the presence of Spain in the area there is very little to go by.

There are several groups of Filipinos who have been studying these questions for some time, but no clear data have emerged from their deliberations (or at least none that have been published widely).

I have been collecting data for some time on the varieties of Moro spearheads that appear online from various sources, including here, and will put my findings on these pages when I can make more sense of them.

It would help greatly if someone could point to Spanish or Filipino sources that provide provenance for older items (spears, swords, knives, etc.). I already have the data from this site. What we need is mainly museum information (pictures) with dates for collection of these and any other information available. Online sources barely scratch the surface of what museums hold.

Last edited by Ian; 18th May 2024 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 19th May 2024, 03:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
... There may have been fighting around Lake Danao, but i am not familiar with any battles that name the place specifically, so that seems less likely.
David, the only Lake Danao I can find in the Philippines is in Leyte (a popular tourist resort). Perhaps Kai was thinking of Lake Lanao on Mindanao, where the Maranao live. JJ Pershing conducted some actions in that area. I agree that Bud Dajo is the more likely origin for this piece based on the tag.
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Old 19th May 2024, 10:19 PM   #13
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Apologies, yes, I had Pershings exploits in mind and was too tired that evening...
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Old 21st May 2024, 10:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Some of them had unusually long shafts which appear to approach 5-6 meters in length.
Whoa!, at 5 meters, that’s over 15 feet for just the shaft alone? Those are some lengthy spears.
I have a few that are in original form, none surpasses 8 ft. The spear in the accompanying photo is reinforced with a cord, if the spearhead does detach the cord could potentially serve as a lanyard.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 08:16 PM   #15
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Posted late, but as promised.
Most of these spearheads are large and of excellent quality, however the bindings and the shafts are rather generic and simple.I wonder if only the spearheads are kept in the armory and in times of war, they are mounted on their bamboo hafts(a readily available material resource).This would save space, be easily transportable, and the shafts would not warp.
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Old 23rd May 2024, 04:37 PM   #16
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Moro combat was seldom "set pieces" but more in the nature of skirmishes that came up at short notice. Each man had his own set of weapons. Perhaps the Sultan and one or two prominent datus had an armory of sorts for their personal body guards.

My guess is that weapons were fully assembled and ready to go at all times. Not all combat spears were thrown—most were used as stabbing weapons in (somewhat) close combat.
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Old 23rd May 2024, 06:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
My guess is that weapons were fully assembled and ready to go at all times. Not all combat spears were thrown—most were used as stabbing weapons in (somewhat) close combat.
It goes without saying that modern martial arts practices (even "traditional" ones) don't necessarily reflect techniques used with historic weapons, but the Bruneian spear work I've studied does utilize quite a bit of cuts in addition to thrusts. The few budiaks that I've handled in person definitely feel like they could have been used in that way also.

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 24th May 2024, 02:17 PM   #18
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Actually, I wish that I had remembered this earlier;Rsword sold an interesting set of Moro spearheads that came in a wooden box, specifically carved for them.This might reinforce(just a little), my theory of Moro spearheads being kept apart from the hafts unless needed.
It would be great if he still had the pictures and he could repost them here.
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Old 24th May 2024, 11:31 PM   #19
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The vast majority of Moro spear heads does come fitted with shafts (often cut for making overseas export feasible) or remnants of fittings/resin.

Moro settlements were prone to raids and skirmishes. Weapons needed to be instantaneously at hand. Additional makeshift weapons (e.g. sharpened green bamboo) may be added on short notice, too. However selecting and curing suitable timber/rattan utilized for regular spear heads is a lengthy process.

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Old 25th May 2024, 01:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drac2k View Post
Actually, I wish that I had remembered this earlier;Rsword sold an interesting set of Moro spearheads that came in a wooden box, specifically carved for them.This might reinforce(just a little), my theory of Moro spearheads being kept apart from the hafts unless needed.
It would be great if he still had the pictures and he could repost them here.
Drac, I suspect those were family heirlooms at one time, maybe pusaka handed down through several generations, and not intended for further use. As kai also notes, Moros kept their combat weapons at the ready.
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Old 9th June 2024, 04:25 PM   #21
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For those who might be interested, the 2024 book “Massacre in the Clouds: An American atrocity and the erasure of history” by Kim Wagner is about Bud Dajo.
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Old 11th June 2024, 07:22 PM   #22
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Thank you for the reference Woldwolverine.

Another thought is that the American soldiers coming back from the Moro Wars often broke the shafts to fit into their foot lockers. Thus many burials have a blade and half or less of the haft intact. This may be one of those.

That being said, I love the okir work on the scabbard. From the okir work, I can tell it is from the Maguindanao or less likely but possibly Maranao).

Both groups are from Mindanao.

Rarely do you find scabbards that survive, much less those with well carved okir on them.
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