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Old 8th July 2019, 12:55 AM   #1
MacCathain
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Default Mangyan bolo?

I picked this little item up many years ago, but haven't gotten around to determining its origins 'til now. The overall length is 20 inches/508 mm, with a blade length of 14.25 inches/362 mm and blade width of 1.325 inches/33.6 mm. The spine of the blade at the ferrule is .312 inches/8 mm. It seems like it may fall into the category of a Philippine Mangyan bolo based on these search hits: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=Mangyan and https://www.worthpoint.com/worthope...hete-1835031432.

The key characteristics are a full tang blade peened at the pommel and a very slight curve along its length that terminates in a slight upward kick at the tip; a beveled and fluted horn grip (water buffalo, perhaps); a long, but crudely formed grip ferrule that appears to have been forge-welded with copper; and, a carved wooden sheath. Although the blade's edge has seen some minor deformation in spots, most of the edge is very sharp and extends to about three-quarters of the circumference of the bull-nosed tip. There is no lamination visible anywhere in the blade. In fact, the blade surface is surprisingly uniform, lacking the subtle ripples and waves that one often finds on hand-forged blades.

Interestingly, the spine of the blade is marked with the initials R.P.A. and there is a brass letter A embedded in the face of the sheath and held in place with a small iron staple. The A, which I think must represent the owner's surname given the spine marking, looks like it might have been removed from a US military badge denoting A Company, and repurposed as a personalization by the owner. I think that kind of badge may have been more common in the Philippines after the Spanish-American War than after WWII.

The sheath is quite well-made and nicely carved, with a decorative internal ridge that parallels the shape of the blade very accurately. There is also a cross-shaped decoration on the face of the sheath at the throat, and a drain slot at the tip to allow rainwater to flow through the sheath without pooling. The face and back of the sheath are joined by thin copper rods that are peened flat on both sides (I wonder if these rods are just short lengths of heavy copper wire that have been stripped of insulation and cut to fit). A cord of rough, twisted fibre provides a loop that runs from two steel suspension eyelets that have been fixed in the thickest portion of the sheath face. There's an attendant length of this fibre cord that has been broken, but would appear to have been attached to a belt, perhaps as extra insurance against loss.

Given the use of Roman letters, as opposed to the logographic characters or syllabic script that one might expect on a tribal weapon, I wonder if this isn't a tool cooked-up after the SAW or post-WWII, when Western influence and military badges were [presumably] more common.

It impresses me as a honest, no-nonsense workman's tool that was made with a bias for function over form. Other thoughts?
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Old 8th July 2019, 09:00 AM   #2
Sajen
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Hello MacCathain,

I don't think that your unusual bolo is Mangyan, it's certainly Philippine and my best guess would be that it is from Luzon. The few Mangyan bolos I've seen (see the link you have provided and this one: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=mangyan) have had wooden handles and the tang don't went through the handle and peened at the end. This handle type I know from bolos which are attributed to Luzon, as well the tang construction. Somewhat unusual is the wooden sheath for Luzon but I've seen bolos from Luzon with wooden sheaths.

Regards,
Detlef

Last edited by Sajen : 8th July 2019 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 9th July 2019, 04:48 PM   #3
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Thanks, Detlef. It seems destined to be a bit of a mystery.
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Old 9th July 2019, 08:03 PM   #4
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Maybe Ian, Robert, Jose or someone else will be able to tell more about your bolo.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 11th July 2019, 01:34 AM   #5
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Hi,

What you have there is a blade made from the CALABARZON province. Sajen is right; the hilt and tang combo is undeniably Luzon. While the configuration can be seen in other Luzon provinces as well, what undeniably points it as CALABARZON province is the wooden scabbard.

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Old 11th July 2019, 02:07 AM   #6
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Thanks xasterix. That makes a lot of sense. One question.

Does the fact that this scabbard is wooden sway you to think of its origins in the southern Tagalog region, or the particular shape/decoration of this scabbard?

Ian
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Old 11th July 2019, 03:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Thanks xasterix. That makes a lot of sense. One question.

Does the fact that this scabbard is wooden sway you to think of its origins in the southern Tagalog region, or the particular shape/decoration of this scabbard?

Ian


Greetings, sir Ian. Thanks for asking that- I took a closer look at the scabbard. I would have to say both.

The "X" marking at the top portion of the scabbard (where the letter "A" is at) is a common feature of CALABARZON blades. The middle or bottom of the X (as found also in this sample) is where the rope or belt portion starts.
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Old 11th July 2019, 09:13 PM   #8
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Tank you Xas for the very useful information!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 12th July 2019, 12:18 AM   #9
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More very useful information. Thanks again xasterix. Ian
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Old 13th July 2019, 05:03 PM   #10
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Thank you all for your very interesting input. It's much appreciated.
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Old 13th July 2019, 06:35 PM   #11
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Cool, love the scabbard. the shortish singleton looks like it was spliced back on itself, as in a line stopper, they appear on a lot of items soved thru a belt/sash and draped over the outside, as something to keep it all from sliding out.

It could be just decorative like a portape/sword knot too.
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