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Old 8th May 2018, 09:51 AM   #31
Tim Simmons
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Really interesting thread. Subtle and abstract bird forms and motives are also found in what is known as Island Melanesia, Solomons ect . It is possible that in some places the origin for this may be lost but the forms are perpetuated just out of tradition.

ps, could there be any relation to Garuda? even slightly?

any thoughts
https://roguegaruda.wordpress.com/2...indonesia-a-li/

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Old 8th May 2018, 04:19 PM   #32
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Hi Ron.

That's an interesting hilt. The sword appears to be Sulu in origin but the sarimanok tradition is Maranao--something that would need reconciling.

Of course, the bird depicted could be something else, such as the Palawan peacock pheasant, a beautiful bird that I had the pleasure of seeing on a visit to northern Palawan to visit the caves.

Ian.

Palawan peacock pheasant
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Old 9th May 2018, 03:52 AM   #33
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Tim,
In Sulu folktale or narrative or katakata, there's a creature called Sumayang Galura (the Soaring Garuda), a "giant bird whose lair lies atop a towering tree one meter away from the sky" (per Gerard Rixhon, Sulu Studies). the imaginary Galura is a mythical symbol of the brute or beastly power (Amilbangsa, Ukkil, Visual Arts of the Sulu Archipelago). it doesn't really describe this fantastic beast other than it's half giant and half eagle with the body and limbs of a man..

Ian,
ok, just for the sake of argument, i'll go with this for now:
Quote:
The sword appears to be Sulu in origin but the sarimanok tradition is Maranao--something that would need reconciling
.
you do realize that although the sarimanok is prevalent in the Maranao culture, they don't have a monopoly of this particular legendary creature? again in the book Ukkil, Visual Arts of the Sulu Archipelago, there are pictures of this creature, in ukkil form, on Sunduks, or grave markers, brasswares, blanket, etc. so why not on a kalis?
as far as the kris itself: the problem i'm having with this line of thinking, as in "the sword appears to be Sulu in origin" is this; you're insinuating the origin of this particular blade as Sulu, which is based on Cato's theory. i understand that that's the only reference we can go by in regards to classification, but the bottom line is, it's just a theory. if you use that as a guideline, it becomes stagnant. let's look at the material that's being used on that. it appears to be made out of carabao horn. below are pictures of a kris that have a similar pommel motif: again, a sarimanok. i've handled this in person, and yes, the pommel is carved out of a carabao horn. now there's one tribe that's known for using this material: the Yakans. you can see that on their piras.
a peacock? okay...
so what happened to the cockatoo?
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Old 9th May 2018, 05:26 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spunjer
... you're insinuating the origin of this particular blade as Sulu, which is based on Cato's theory. i understand that that's the only reference we can go by in regards to classification, but the bottom line is, it's just a theory ...
Ron,

Being the only published theory, that is indeed all we really have to go on. Some people may have knowledge that is different, but until it is put out there for discussion and the basis of it checked out, then there is nothing else to discuss. Cato described his methodology and, while not perfect, it is not unlike many other ethnographic studies--collect and catalog examples, interview people from the culture, try to identify key informants, research the historical records, etc.

The fact that Cato was from a completely different culture does not negate his contribution. After all, a great deal of excellent ethnographic research and anthropology was reported by people who were not from the culture under study. I have discussed Cato's work with a number of Filipino collectors who hold it in low regard. I have even been told that a 'cano could never understand the complexities of Moro culture. However, neither those individuals nor others have published an alternative narrative, and Cato's ideas stand unchallenged until they do.

The "just a theory" idea implies that "anything-can-be-anything," which reduces to "we-know-nothing." Theories are a way of proposing testable hypotheses, and Cato provides ideas that are testable if we can find old provenanced pieces that could confirm or refute his proposals.

On the subject of this thread, I'm very comfortable with the idea that more than one type of bird can be represented on Moro hilts. It doesn't have to be only a cockatoo, or a sarimanok, or whatever. What we started out discussing was whether the familiar kakatua hilt, in its various forms, was indeed meant to represent a cockatoo or something else.

I think it can be agreed that the so-called kakatua style, or at least a similar antecedent, has been present for several centuries on hilts from the Malay archipelago, northern Borneo, and the southern Philippines. This is not a peculiarly Moro trait. Cato, based on his Moro informants, argues for the cockatoo. One way to test this idea would be to go to other geographic areas where this form has been seen and ask what it is called there.

Looking at stylistic interpretations of birds carved on hilts is probably not going to take us any further in knowing what bird(s) are represented. We need data from people who know what these are actually meant to be, from all parts of the Malay world in which they are found. Until that is known we really cannot say with any confidence what they are supposed to be. Cato's proposal stands, or is an open question if you prefer, until it is comprehensively disproven.

Ian.
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Old 9th May 2018, 11:03 PM   #35
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Quote:
Being the only published theory, that is indeed all we really have to go on.


wrong. anything can be researched. specially nowadays

Quote:
Some people may have knowledge that is different, but until it is put out there for discussion and the basis of it checked out, then there is nothing else to discuss.


in my defense, that's what i thought i was doing when i started this thread...

Quote:
The fact that Cato was from a completely different culture does not negate his contribution. After all, a great deal of excellent ethnographic research and anthropology was reported by people who were not from the culture under study. I have discussed Cato's work with a number of Filipino collectors who hold it in low regard. I have even been told that a 'cano could never understand the complexities of Moro culture.


i'm not really sure where that came from, but him being an American (or 'cano as you call it) has nothing to do with it. kinda myopic, don't you think? i'm not convinced with some of what he wrote, so i did my own research. it wasn't that hard. incidentally, a lot of what i used during my research were books written by westerners:
Blair/Robertson, Scott, Rixhon, Kiefer, Cowie, etc.
of course, the internet (lots of e-books floating around offered by universities), and correspondence with Moro scholars

Quote:
Theories are a way of proposing testable hypotheses, and Cato provides ideas that are testable if we can find old provenanced pieces that could confirm or refute his proposals.


i believe that was my intention when i started this thread.
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Old 10th May 2018, 12:29 AM   #36
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Sorry Ian, but i'm with Ron on this one. Sure, Cato is pretty much all we have to work with and frankly i don't know what he's gotten right and what he's gotten wrong. All of it, some of it, none of it? I do think to is fair to use Cato as our guide, it being pretty much all we have published to go on, but you act as if being published adds automatic credibility and respectability to his ideas. Correct me if i am wrong, but Moro Sword isn't some academic treatise that has been tested by an academic peer group in some major university. What was Cato's background beyond his own collecting interest (honestly, i'm asking, i don't really know). Obviously this work was approved by his publisher, Graham Brash, but that doesn't mean they fact checked his work carefully, something that would be very difficult to do given the subject and the lack of other written works on the topic. I don't quite see why you place so much importance on the fact that this is the only published work on the subject and so little importance on the testimony of native Filipino collectors who dismiss Cato. How can you dismiss them solely on the fact that they have never published their own thoughts and theories. Really, anyone can publish a book these days. That doesn't make those books all worth reading.
Ron IS putting his theory out there for discussion right here in our forum. I find quite a bit of what he has to say sound. I don't think we should shut down the discussion simply because there re no published works to support his theories.
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Old 10th May 2018, 12:56 AM   #37
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Although I may not completely agree with Ron's thesis, I will have to say that it is a possibility. I completely agree that the kakatua pommel for junggayan pommels is incorrect and that it is more likely a sarimanok.

I also agree with the Galura idea, especially since it was an old Hindu (12 century) import (Garuda) from India through Indonesia and Indian travelers. In fact, there is even a Moro version of the Indian Ramayana.

On the other hand, Cato probably had different sources for his information that what we have now. I have been informed that Cato might now regret not having the other sources of information and thus recognizes that some modifications to his book are in order. What we have here is not a repudiation of Cato, but modifications to his work, which happens to all scholarly and scientific endeavors with the passing of time.
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Old 10th May 2018, 02:42 AM   #38
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Does the Cockatoo hold any notable place in the folklore of the Moro societies?
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Old 10th May 2018, 04:10 AM   #39
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Of the cockatoo I am not sure. But I do know that the sarimanok (a type of mythical stylized rooster) is important to the Moro world.

Note also that the ferocity of cock/rooster fighting is not lost on Moro culture and is a great source for gambling.
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Old 10th May 2018, 04:24 AM   #40
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I have a great fondness for the Moro aesthetic, however I am not a specialist.
Therefore, I can state objectively that Ron has taken a thoroughly valid academic approach; he made a straightforward thesis, and supported it well.

I met Bob Cato years ago. I believe he was an educator at that time; I think he would respect Ron's research here.
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Old 10th May 2018, 06:19 AM   #41
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Ron,

I am not trying to disparage the ideas you propose or suggest that they are without merit. I apologize if I gave you that impression. Rather I'm trying to understand the basis for your thoughts and how they account for certain facts as we know them.

After 50+ years of reviewing theses, articles submitted for publication, and grant applications, I'm reading your ideas in a similar manner: What are you proposing? What are your sources of new and old information? What data do you have? How will you test your ideas? One does not have to be a trained academic to use the tools of research. Robert Elgood's works are a good model to follow.

The contributions of Robert Cato to the literature on Moro swords are not limited to his book. He has four publications dating from 1991 to 1996, and these are listed in TD Rogers, An Annotated Bibliography of Indonesian, Filipino & Malay Edged Weapons, Zwartenkot Art Books: Lieden, 2015 (citation numbers 599–602).
Cato R. The Moros and their swords. Inside Kung-Fu 16(12): 52–55, 82 (1989).
Cato R. Islamic swords of the Southern Philippines. Arts of Asia 21(1): 104–123, 1991.
Cato R. Moro swords, battle blades of a people. Blade, December 1993: 86–87.
Cato R. Moro Swords. Graham Brash: Singapore, 1996.
I have copies of his book and of the Arts of Asia article, but have not read the other two. I believe at least one of these (Arts of Asia) is a peer reviewed publication, and I suspect that there were varying degrees of editorial review for his other writings on this subject--it would be unusual for an editor of a reputable publication not to perform some type of review. So Mr Cato's work has probably been subjected to review by people familiar with the topic and has met with their approval. David's comment that anyone can write a book is true if we are talking about small printings of self-published works funded by the author. Getting someone else to publish your work with large numbers of colored pictures, however, is not something everyone can do.

Because of the review and scrutiny frequently paid to published articles, they carry more weight than, say, blogs or other opinion pieces (such as EEWRS comments) that are posted online. Generally, blogs and opinions are not supported by references or objective data, whereas well reviewed articles will include these and other features that add credibility to the author's thinking.

As I see it, Mr Cato presently has the high ground in his descriptions of Moro weapons. To refute things he has said means being more thorough and accurate. For example, I don't think Cato cited all of his local sources of information. Some may have requested anonymity, but that is something that should have been stated because unattributed statements can be worth very little (as they cannot be verified). A better study would cite key informants and indicate their expertise.

Ron, I think you have the germ of a good idea. In offering comments about what you have said, I'm not trying to win a debate and I don't necessarily disagree with your idea. I am trying to help you convince me that you are right.

Ian
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Old 10th May 2018, 06:46 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Does the Cockatoo hold any notable place in the folklore of the Moro societies?
Rick,

Alan Maisey commented earlier that the cockatoo had a strong symbolic meaning in the Indonesian Archipelago and Malaysia, but he did not know about the significance in Moroland.

Ian.
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Old 10th May 2018, 11:54 AM   #43
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Peer review is a straw man - physics is doing fine with much of its academic publishing being done without traditional prior peer review for decades already. And in just about any academic discipline you'll be able to find deplorable "scholarship" having been published after "approval" via academic peer review. And that is before the ugly rise of predatory "academic" journals with peer review of very questionable quality during the last decade or so...

Review done by a commercial non-academic publisher is bound to be quite another kettle of fish, too.

I thank Bob Cato for his efforts and sacrifice in getting his book published. Apparently he was a very dedicated collector and, with publishing his ideas, did more for promoting Moro craftsmanship than most of us. However, I fail to see his book as an academic endeavour: Hardly any sources are given except a few examples shown in pictures (usually without any provenance, discussion, etc.) and limited literature citations; pretty much the data base is just missing. Obviously, the earlier journal articles were leading up to the book - apart from a few pics, there's hardly any additional data.

He put out his ideas and these hypotheses can be falsified/modified by additional data and ongoing discussions. I believe the contributions on this forum are certainly very valuable and can be considered being on par with Cato's early attempt. Fair game IMHO...

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Old 10th May 2018, 03:36 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Peer review is a straw man - physics is doing fine with much of its academic publishing being done without traditional prior peer review for decades already. And in just about any academic discipline you'll be able to find deplorable "scholarship" having been published after "approval" via academic peer review. And that is before the ugly rise of predatory "academic" journals with peer review of very questionable quality during the last decade or so...

Review done by a commercial non-academic publisher is bound to be quite another kettle of fish, too.

I thank Bob Cato for his efforts and sacrifice in getting his book published. Apparently he was a very dedicated collector and, with publishing his ideas, did more for promoting Moro craftsmanship than most of us. However, I fail to see his book as an academic endeavour: Hardly any sources are given except a few examples shown in pictures (usually without any provenance, discussion, etc.) and limited literature citations; pretty much the data base is just missing. Obviously, the earlier journal articles were leading up to the book - apart from a few pics, there's hardly any additional data.

He put out his ideas and these hypotheses can be falsified/modified by additional data and ongoing discussions. I believe the contributions on this forum are certainly very valuable and can be considered being on par with Cato's early attempt. Fair game IMHO...

Regards,
Kai

Thanks for confirming what i had expected. All my books are boxed already for an impending move so i cannot access my copy of Moro Sword at the moment.
Again, i have no particular bone to pick with Cato and do not feel fully qualified to confirm or deny any theory he might have presented in his book. However, i strongly disagree that Cato carries more weight simply because he is the only book reference that has been published on the matter, especially when, if we look closely, he fails to give us solid sources and references for his own work. This doesn't give him the "high ground", it merely affords him the only ground...so far.
Ian, i am glad to hear that is was not your intention to shut down this discussion, but when you write things like "Some people may have knowledge that is different, but until it is put out there for discussion and the basis of it checked out, then there is nothing else to discuss" i hope you can see how some might get that impression. What i have found over the many years i have been trying to understand these weapons (particularly Indonesian keris) is that a great deal of valuable and important research and breakthroughs in understanding happen right here on these forums. The vast majority of published references on the keris are misleading at best and utter wrong at worst. They hold no particular "high ground" simply by virtue of them finding a publisher. There has been less written on Moro weaponry and i am not able to say when and when not Cato may be correct or incorrect. But i can't assume he is right simply because he wrote it down. While there may in fact be a more scholarly and academic approach to other forms of arms that have been studied in far greater detail such as European and India swords i am afraid we are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes the SEA. This doesn't mean that we should not use similar tried and true methods for our research and theory building, but i don't see why we need fully realized and completely supported evidence just to question theories by Cato that are not well sources and referenced themselves.
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Old 10th May 2018, 04:24 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Rick,

Alan Maisey commented earlier that the cockatoo had a strong symbolic meaning in the Indonesian Archipelago and Malaysia, but he did not know about the significance in Moroland.

Ian.


Well, that's what I was wondering.
If it had no significance in Moroland then we might be able to discount it as an influence with a fairly clear conscience.
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Old 10th May 2018, 07:38 PM   #46
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Here is some information on birds (and serpents...as Alan suggested earlier these tend to operate together in many mythologies). There is no mention of kakatau in these descriptions, though some birds are mentioned by their given name rather than species. According to other sources i have read Magaul (Manaul), one of the most important birds to Moro mythology, was supposedly a Sarimanok.
https://www.aswangproject.com/role-...pine-mythology/
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Old 10th May 2018, 07:45 PM   #47
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The Ardana could be another candidate.
http://www.ancientpages.com/2017/01...of-philippines/
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Old 10th May 2018, 07:55 PM   #48
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Amihan seems to be related to the Manaul myth, an ancient king who was transformed into a bird.
http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Amihan_(mythology)
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Old 10th May 2018, 07:56 PM   #49
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What i am not finding in any of my internet searches is any kind of mythological connection with the kakatau (cockatoo) in Moro culture. If anyone has found any such links maybe they can post them.
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Old 10th May 2018, 09:16 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spunjer
so 3 years later and i guess no one else has a similar type of pommel...

moving along, i bid on this kris last night just because i don't have this type of pommel in my collection. what's interesting is, instead of going about in making it as an abstract sarimanok, this one is realistic. i just hope whoever won that piece would post some close up pictures once it's all cleaned up



Ron....after the auction was ended the seller emailed me and noted that kris and scabbard were mismatched, I told him it's okay but it would be nice to have the matching scabbard! he told me that there was another scabbard that should have went on thesame auction but it was for the smaller dagger. I will sell it to you for $25, here it was, perfect fit!

no damage on the pommel/handle what so ever, but a forging crack on the blade. enjoy
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Old 10th May 2018, 09:35 PM   #51
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... a very good example of an earlier kris. (two krises to the left)
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Old 11th May 2018, 09:06 PM   #52
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About that Cockatoo...........
Anyone?
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Old 11th May 2018, 11:01 PM   #53
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Rick,
when i started collecting, i was wondering why the pommel is referred to as cockatoo when there's no correlation between that particular bird and the Moro people. i realize that these weapons, much like anything else around them, is steep in symbolism. we already know that the blade symbolizes the Naga, a much revered creature among the Moros, and pre-hispanic Filipinos for that matter. again, going back to our belief before Islam and Catholicism arrived.
so i double checked if the cockatoo has some sort of symbolic meaning among the Moros, and for the life of me, i can't find anything. the earliest i've seen these pommels being referred to as cockatoo were in the catalogs during first quarter of the 20th century. in my humble opinion, someone started labeling them as cockatoo, without knowing what exactly they represent. these same catalogs would refer to some of these pommels as "made out of caribou's horn". of course we now know that there are no caribous in the Philippines. even Cato wasn't so sure about this. again, let's look at what he wrote:

All barung pommels, and many kris pommels, are modeled after the head of the cockatoo (known to the Malays as the "kakatua" or "kinadangag"). This magnificent crested parrot is native to the Southern Philippines and Indonesia. Its elaborately-feathered crest, curving beaks and stately regal bearing have captured the imagination of Moro artists for many centuries. The cockatoo motif became widely accepted throughout the South in a relatively short period of time.

Some Indonesian swords were fitted with pommels that are somewhat akin to the Moro kakatua. It is possible that early hilt makers in the Southern Philippines came into contact with the motif in the course of their trading and combative encounters with the Indonesians. Upon their return to the Morolands, artisans probably redesigned the motif, imbuing it with their own unique style and flavor.

To the Muslim Filipinos, the kakatua motif symbolizes lightness, and the ability to fly up into the heavens, leaving danger and death far behind.


ok, so the regal-ness of these magnificent birds has captured the imagination of the Moro artist for centuries, and yet it would take for them to trade with the Indonesians to realize that, "hey, i got an idea; why don't we use that same regal bird that's been capturing our imagination for centuries as a motif for our pommel. heck, the Indonesians were using it. so it doesn't look like we copied them, let's add our unique style and flavor!"
yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

so a Cliff Note version to your question: no, the cockatoo is not in any Moro sagas, myth, and legends.

CCUAL
bro, congratulations in snagging that piece! i'm pretty sure i was the bidder you outbidded, lol, but no worries, it wasn't meant for me. thanks for posting some close ups!
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Old 11th May 2018, 11:18 PM   #54
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CCUAL
bro, congratulations in snagging that piece! i'm pretty sure i was the bidder you outbidded, lol, but no worries, it wasn't meant for me. thanks for posting some close ups![/QUOTE]

sorry about that bro, but for sure when i am ready let go "kris sarimanok" will be a gift to you.
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Old 13th May 2018, 02:33 PM   #55
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In 1985, there was a big Philippines exposition in Germany, and Museum fuer Voelkerkunde in Munich (which has an important and early (many collected before 1883) collection of Kris) did publish a small book. There is an article by Rose Schubert (curator for SEA), which explains the hilt pommels (especially Junggayan) exactly the way Ron sees them.

I doubt it's her own idea (of course everything is possible), so I give the publications she put in her bibliography (besides publications already mentioned by Ron in #35):

Casińo, Eric S. 1981, "Arts and Peoples of the Southern Philippines", in Gabriel Casal, "The People and Arts of the Philippines", Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, University of California.

Cole, Fay-Cooper, 1914, "The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao", Field Museum of Natural History, Publ. 170, Antrhropological Series, Vol. XII, No. 2, Chicago.

Foy, W., 1899, "Schwerter von der Celebes See", Publikationen aus dem Königlichen Ethnographischen Museum zu Dresden, Band XII, Dresden.

and, more popular, Juynboll, 1928, "Philippines" and David Szanton, 1963, "Art in Sulu: A Survey", in IPC Papers Nr. 3.
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Old 14th May 2018, 05:49 AM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
In 1985, there was a big Philippines exposition in Germany, and Museum fuer Voelkerkunde in Munich [which has an important and early (many collected before 1883) collection of Kris] did publish a small book. There is an article by Rose Schubert (curator for SEA), which explains the hilt pommels (especially Junggayan) exactly the way Ron sees them. ...
Gustav,

This is excellent news! Would it be possible to scan the article into a PDF file and post it here as an attachment? It is possible to attach .PDF files to a post in the same manner as .JPG and other graphics files.

I have copies of the Casino, Cole, and Foy references but they are on a ship at this time heading for Australia. From memory, I don't recall anything about Moro hilts and their attribution in those references. I don't have the other references you mention. Can you provide more details about the IPC Papers (what does IPC stand for?).

I look forward to reading what Dr Schubert has to say.

Regards,

Ian.
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Old 14th May 2018, 07:00 AM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spunjer
... these same catalogs would refer to some of these pommels as "made out of caribou's horn". of course we now know that there are no caribous in the Philippines.
Ron, you are being a little disingenuous here. Every Filipino knows that carabao (or sometimes kalabaw) is the every day common term for the domesticated water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis carabanesis). That carabao might get transliterated to "caribou" is hardly surprising, although clearly incorrect. Nevertheless, the intent of the description is true, some of these pommels were made from carabao horn.

Quote:
... even Cato wasn't so sure about this. again, let's look at what he wrote:

All barung pommels, and many kris pommels, are modeled after the head of the cockatoo (known to the Malays as the "kakatua" or "kinadangag"). This magnificent crested parrot is native to the Southern Philippines and Indonesia. Its elaborately-feathered crest, curving beaks and stately regal bearing have captured the imagination of Moro artists for many centuries. The cockatoo motif became widely accepted throughout the South in a relatively short period of time.

Some Indonesian swords were fitted with pommels that are somewhat akin to the Moro kakatua. It is possible that early hilt makers in the Southern Philippines came into contact with the motif in the course of their trading and combative encounters with the Indonesians. Upon their return to the Morolands, artisans probably redesigned the motif, imbuing it with their own unique style and flavor.

To the Muslim Filipinos, the kakatua motif symbolizes lightness, and the ability to fly up into the heavens, leaving danger and death far behind.


ok, so the regal-ness of these magnificent birds has captured the imagination of the Moro artist for centuries, and yet it would take for them to trade with the Indonesians to realize that, "hey, i got an idea; why don't we use that same regal bird that's been capturing our imagination for centuries as a motif for our pommel. heck, the Indonesians were using it. so it doesn't look like we copied them, let's add our unique style and flavor!"
yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Ron,

You are assuming that Cato implies that the Southern Philippines was fascinated by the cockatoo before contact with Indonesians. However, contact between seafaring Southern Filipinos and peoples to the south of them is believed to have occurred for more than a thousand years (I don't have my historical texts with me at present, but I'm sure that is correct).

That the cockatoo does not appear in Moro traditions is a major weakness of the Cato hypothesis and would seem to contradict his statement that "its elaborately-feathered crest, curving beaks and stately regal bearing have captured the imagination of Moro artists for many centuries." The further south one goes, however, the more likely Cato is to be correct.

If Moro craftsmen did initially copy the style from more southern groups, and so far I know of no scholarship to suggest that they did not, then they may have chosen to keep the style for a variety of reasons. I have used a number of my kris and barung for cutting tests. The beak of the pommel forms a very comfortable resting place for the little finger, while the hypothenar eminence of the palm rests against the crest. This is an ergonomic design well suited to cutting and chopping, allowing the hand to firmly grasp the hilt and preventing slippage of the grip or twisting of the blade when striking. Thus, the adoption of the southern style pommel (kakatua) by the Moros may have had something to do with the ergonomics of the weapon.

This makes some sense to me. It also makes sense that further changes occurred over time, and that what was introduced initially as a hilt representing a kakatua may have come to represent something else that was more consistent with Moro traditions.

So far in our exchanges I have refrained from commenting about my own inquiries on this subject because I don't think they are very useful to the discussion. But here they are for what it's worth. In the late 1990s and early 2000s I spent considerable time in the Philippines (mainly Luzon, Palawan, and Mindanao) pursuing a number of health-related projects. My work took me to Mindanao in the late 1990s and would have continued there but for the 2001 attack on New York and the resulting risks to Americans traveling to Muslim hot spots. In the course of these visits, I also came across a few swords and dealers. Among other things I asked them about the pommel style that Cato called kakatua. Without prompting them or suggesting the name kakatua, I asked what this style was meant to represent. As far as I know, none of them had read Robert Cato's work.

My principal Manila antiques dealer (who was Tagalog) said he thought it represented a cockatoo, based on discussion with his Muslim suppliers of arms (I did not get information about where these suppliers were from). Two dealers in Davao City (both Cebuano) said they did not know, but one thought it might be an eagle. One dealer from Zamboanga thought it was based on a parrot but then said he really did not know. Who knows what to make of this information. However, no mention was made of a mythical rooster.

Ian.
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Old 14th May 2018, 11:38 AM   #58
Gustav
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Ian,

IPC stands for Institute of Philippine Culture, Quezon City. The Publisher was Manila University Press.

The article by Schubert written in German, but there is a summary of it in van Duuren's "Krisses" bibliography (2002, Pictures Publishers), and I guess, it should be mentioned also in Tim Rogers' bibliography as he edited van Duuren's book. Here the text by van Duuren:

"Essay about the various weapons of the pirates of the Sulu Islands and North Mindanao, in the accompanying book to the eponymous exhibition that toured Germany in 1985. The author's interest centres on the form of kampilan, a broadsword, and of the Philippine kris, which weapons in her opinion bear the mark of the Dayak people and may subsequently have found their way via Borneo to the southern Philippines where their definitive forms were established. Not only does she contribute an in-depth tratise on local forging techniques, but she also proffers (sic) a surprising new view of the respective kris hilts generated in their wake. Schubert interprets these hilts, the biggest of which have a baroque, curly knob, as representations of a long-tailed bird. This bird form becomes evident once the tip of the blade points upwards; then the knob is shown to be a bird in full flight which carries the kris on its back. The author substantiates her vision with photographs and drawings showing the hilts upside down. However, her views fail to take into account the general consensus that the knob of the Sulu kris represents a stylised bird's head, more specifically that of a cockatoo."

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Old 14th May 2018, 12:57 PM   #59
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Old 14th May 2018, 03:28 PM   #60
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Kai,

Thank you for that link. Interesting interpretation by Rose Schubert. I was hoping that this paper would have some data to support Ron's ideas, but it seems that Schubert was guessing as much as we are. Turning the hilt upside down, or switching the head for the tail as I suggested earlier in this thread, are different ways of looking at the representation, but we have no way of knowing if any of these interpretations are correct without clear data to support them.

The suggestion that having the wavy blade (naga) positioned above the representation of the bird would be inconsistent with the naga interpretation of the blade offered by Alan and Ron.

Gustav,

Thank you very much for bringing this interpretation of the hilt to our attention and for noting van Duuren's comments. It is interesting to read that Schubert's views in 1985 ran contrary to the accepted notion that the pommel represented a cockatoo. The German exhibition preceded Cato's publications and the "general consensus" of a cockatoo being depicted on Moro weapons appears to have been around longer than Cato's work. That raises the question of when and how the cockatoo attribution started.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 14th May 2018 at 03:41 PM.
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