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Old 21st August 2018, 07:53 PM   #1
Robert
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Default Copper And Brass Philippine Dagger

As I have not posted anything for awhile I thought that I would start by posting one of my latest additions to my Philippine copper and brass bladed dagger and knife collection. A beautiful little copper bladed dagger absolutely loaded with symbolism.
Below are the measurements as well as part of an ongoing discussion I have had with Lorenz on this piece. Any further information or observations that anyone would care to share on this piece would be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Robert

Measurements;
Total length = 9 inches
Blade length = 5 inches
Blade Width At Hilt 7/8 inch
Blade Thickness At Hilt = 1/8 inch
Length of hilt = 3-1/2 inches
Width of guard = 1/2 inch


Me,
I have included some photos of the last copper bladed dagger I was fortunate enough to acquire for my collection. A rather interesting
piece with the hilt panels carved with different scenes. One is of a bladed weapon, two are of different plants, one of which I believe could
be a catmon flower. There is one of a person with a rather evil look on the face, another with four diamonds and the last I believe is meant
to represent a naga? The butt plate on the is in the shape of sun rays and when you look at the construction the metal parts (starting with the
blade) alternate between copper and brass. Copper blade, brass guard, copper front ferrule, brass end cap with a copper cover plate,
a brass sun ray butt plate and with the sun itself being the end of the copper tang. Again I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this item.

Lorenz,
Everything you said is right on the money (except for the 'catmon' flower which I'm not familiar with, or whether there's a local equiv. of such).
In any case it's a flower which is a symbol of the middle world. In summary, the dagger represents once again the old local religions --
(a) the ancestral spirits via that man figure, and (b) the nature spirits, via the sunburst, the naga, the plants, etc. One panel also appears
to show a fish chasing (or swallowing?) a bird, which is also of course all about the underworld and upper world icons. The panel that shows a
dagger is also about the upper world - it's a well-documented ethnographic finding, here in the Philippines and Indonesia, wherein a bladed weapon
is a symbol of the upper world and is masculine, while pottery is a symbol of the underworld and is feminine. The two ends of the guard can also be
interpreted as sun symbols, while the wavy blade is of course a naga. There's always a tendency to have a profusion and multiplicity of symbols and
icons because the common belief then was that the potency of the talisman (and the weapon then was also often regarded as a talisman and not
necessarily for actual fighting, meaning the mere possession of it made the person felt secure already) was dependent on the number of symbols that
can be embedded on the item, whether the item is a blade, or textile, woodcarving, etc.
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Last edited by Robert : 22nd August 2018 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 22nd August 2018, 04:37 AM   #2
Ian
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Hi Robert,

Very interesting little knife. Which culture do you think it comes from? The manufacturing style looks like Northern Luzon work to me. What do you think is the significance of alternating copper with a copper-alloy (brass)?

Ian.
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Old 22nd August 2018, 07:46 AM   #3
Robert
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Hello Ian, With the overall styling and the tang extending all the way through the hilt I would believe this to be an Ilocano piece. As for the copper and brass alternating the way they do I am not really sure of its significance, but when counted it adds up to seven a lucky number so I believe that this could also be talismanic in nature. In the photos showing only the hilt the ferrule next to the guard is made of copper, but for some reason (probably lighting) it looks more like brass. The true color can be seen in the first two photos.The one thing I forgot to mention before are the bird motifs carved above each of the panels. These of course represent the upper world and symbolize the sun gods alter ego.


Best,
Robert

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Old 22nd August 2018, 04:01 PM   #4
Sajen
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Hello Robert,
What a beautiful talismanic dagger, like you said byself loaded with symbolism!
It's a great addition to your copper and brass bladed Philippine dagger/knife collection!

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 22nd August 2018, 05:29 PM   #5
Robert
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Hello Detlef, And thank you for your kind words and interest in this unusual piece. As these copper bladed daggers seem to be few and far between and even less common than their brass/bronze counterparts. I was extremely happy to have been able to acquire this piece for my collection. I have added a photo to my original posting that was graciously given me by Lorenz (AKA Migueldiaz) in reference to another piece in my collection that helps explain some of the symbolism used on this piece. Finding any information on these copper bladed knives and daggers has proven to be difficult to say the least.


Best,
Robert
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Old 23rd August 2018, 02:59 PM   #6
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Robert and I am have dicussed his new addition to his great collection by mail before and coming to the so called "catmon" flower symbol found on many Philippine blades, sometimes at the handle, sometimes at the scabbard.
We found that the real natural catmon flower has five petals, see first picture. The most catmon flowers I've found on my weapons show only flowers with four petals, only one has indeed five petals.
Shown are at first a flower on the handle of a Bicol blade, next is one on the scabbard from my tres kantos dagger, two one on the leather throat of one of my binangons from the Visayas and at last a four petal flower on one of my Moluccas shields. The last picture shows a flower with five petals on the handle of my ram head sword from Luzon.
Any opinions about this? Are the four petal flowers are indeed catmon flowers? Or this are other flowers?

Regards,
Detlef
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