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Old 20th July 2018, 03:37 PM   #1
CharlesS
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Default The Moro Ball Pommel Kriss Sword

For many Moro collectors, the ball pommelled kriss sword is an impure anomaly. How could a ball-shaped pommel take the place of a traditional cockatoo/sarimanok pommel and all its pleasing aesthetic and traditional characteristics?

While I do agree that there is a certain loss of tradition and maybe even some aesthetics, I am still a fan of the ball-pommeled kriss. I find they are often better balanced as a result of the weight of the horn, bone, fossil molar, or any other material used for the 'ball'. They also seem to create an extra dimension to the weapon, as now the pommel becomes a blunt weapon. Naturally, they are also generally more durable and less fragile than the cockatoo/sarimanok pommels.

I am not sure how the ball pommelled kriss developed, but I do have some suspicion it was from European sword pommel influence. Whether it developed into a wealth or status issue or was simply a matter of preference, I do not know...and doubt we ever will. I think the combined example pic below will show that there was no limit to possibilities and resources(wealth) that could go into a ball pommelled kriss.

One particular example has been my heart's desire since the early days of my collecting and has always seemed to elude me...a ball pommelled horn and inlay example. A few months ago I was thrilled to be able to acquire one, and what an example it is! Note the construction of the pommel which is two pieces of carabao horn that split the pommel evenly down the middle vertically(see the pommel close-up pics). The horn has been decorated with bone inlay. The two pieces are firmly held together by the grip cording, a silver ring bound with copper nails, and a thin silver pommel cap. It all comes together to make for a very attractive pommel.

The blade on that one is not too shabby either!

I doubt this thread will change the minds of those Moro collectors who have a low opinion of the Moro ball pommelled kriss, but perhaps they will at least appreciate them a little more.

...now if only I can find the far more elusive ball-pommelled barung!

Dimensions of the kriss discussed:
Overall length: 27.5in.
Blade length: 21.75in.
Blade width at the midpoint: 1.5in.
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Old 20th July 2018, 04:22 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
For many Moro collectors, the ball pommelled kriss sword is an impure anomaly. How could a ball-shaped pommel take the place of a traditional cockatoo/sarimanok pommel and all its pleasing aesthetic and traditional characteristics? .


I think the ball pommel is just a slight deviation from the horse hoof.

Odd construction on the split ball. Any chance that the pommel is carved from kamagong instead of horn?
I myself, is a fan of the ball pommel on Moro swords; your photos are very much appreciated.
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Old 20th July 2018, 04:51 PM   #3
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Thanks, as always, Kino!

The pommel doesn't have any color deviation that might make me think it was wood. I think the two-part construction is a greater indicator of it be horn, that is, two smaller pieces easier to carve and to work with than finding a big enough piece for the ball.

Glad to hear someone else is a fan of the ball pommel!
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Old 20th July 2018, 05:43 PM   #4
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Charles, once again you have come up with another stunning piece! I am also a fan of the ball pommel. A few years ago I was offered a kris in Manila with a lovely ivory ball, but the kris was all handle and no blade--the blade was of poor quality and the sword was not meant to be drawn in anger, just admired for its hilt. So I passed on it.

I do have a couple of kris with ball hilts. These are in Bagobo or T'boli dress, although I think they were made by either Maguindanao or Maranao craftsmen. Kino may be right, that they are a variant of the horse hoof pommel.

Nice collection that you have.

Regards,


Ian.
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Old 20th July 2018, 11:03 PM   #5
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This ball kris is the nicest I have seen. This piece appears to be Sulu. Very nice.
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Old 21st July 2018, 06:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
... This piece appears to be Sulu. Very nice.

I agree. The scabbard looks Sulu. Ian
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Old 21st July 2018, 04:04 PM   #7
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Here are pictures of a nearly identical piece for comparison. I would place the blade at possibly being Maguindanao, or a cross of Maguindanao and Sulu:
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Old 21st July 2018, 04:35 PM   #8
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Awesome find Battara, and on this one I see no indication that the pommel is made in two parts, unless it is cut horizontally and the cut is hidden by the silver ring.

I would assume as well that the silver wire woven grip allows us to attribute this one to at least a low ranking noble.

Thanks for this contribution to the thread!
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Old 21st July 2018, 07:29 PM   #9
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Thereís a photo of Datu Kalun sporting a kris with an impressive ball pommel. Iíve seen the photo in one of the threads.
This notable photo of a guard house in Sulu has a ball pommeled kris. It could be Datu Kalunís, but I believe his had a braided silver wire wrap.
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Old 21st July 2018, 07:32 PM   #10
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Hereís the extent of my krisí with ball pommel.
Obviously someone has cornered all the ivory ones.
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Old 21st July 2018, 07:49 PM   #11
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Come-on guys, leave a few of those kris for us mere mortals!

BTW, Albert, you seem to have grabbed the one already shown by Jose - what's its blade length?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 21st July 2018, 07:59 PM   #12
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Hello Charles,

Thanks for another great example - very nice 19th c. Sulu blade/ensemble!


Quote:
I think the combined example pic below will show that there was no limit to possibilities and resources(wealth) that could go into a ball pommelled kriss.

A superb family gathering, indeed!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 21st July 2018, 08:03 PM   #13
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Magnificent examples Kino! The second from the right used to be in my collection!

Thanks for the comments and input guys!
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