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Old 28th November 2018, 12:43 PM   #1
Ian
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Default Filipino Traditional Blades--a brief review

In a recent thread on Palawan badung, mention was made of the Facebook page "Filipino Traditional Blades." This is an interesting site and I would recommend it to those who are particularly looking for information about contemporary Filipino blades (traditional and non-traditional), although it discusses older examples as well. It is necessary to read the descriptions carefully, because some of the information is cryptic or potentially misleading. Much of the information comes from Filipinos who have visited the areas where these knives are made, or have some specialized knowledge to share.

This post and the succeeding ones show a few pictures from the FTB site along with the descriptions provided. These give a brief example of what can be found there and the scope of information one might expect.

The first picture is from Bukidnon, Mindanao.
Quote:
"Lambitad" Bukidnon (Higaonon Tribe)
A traditional bolo of the Higaonon Tribe of Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.
This particular one is the EDC bolo of a Higaonon Datu (Tribal Chief)
Here we are given the name of the knife (lambitad), the location (Impasug-ong, Bukidnon), and the name of the tribe (Higaonon). All useful and specific information about (what appears to be) a recently made knife for a local datu.

The second picture shows a pair of small knives from the Sulu region.
Quote:
"Pisau" Sulu Region
These are small knives used for preparing betel nut or Mama'.
The word pisau would refer to a small knife.
Again, we are given the name (pisau) and general area of origin (Sulu), and its use (preparing betel nut). Pisau is a common name for a small knife in SE Asia, and is used in parts of Indonesia and Malaysia to describe other types of small knives, including those found in sheaths on the back of mandau (pisau raout).

The third example is also a small knife that comes from a small island in Laguna de Pays near Manila.
Quote:
"Kayasan" Talim Island
A small trad knife of Talim Island, Binangonan, Rizal.
We have the name of the knife (kayasan) and the village from which it came (Binangonan in the Province of Rizal). Given the location, one would expect this to be a Tagalog knife.
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Last edited by Ian : 10th December 2018 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 28th November 2018, 01:01 PM   #2
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Default FTB (part II)

These pictures relate to Visayan swords and knives.

The first shows a collection of recently made swords from Panay.
Quote:
1. Linamay Utility (Culasi, Antique: Arthuro Martizano)
2. Linamay-Sapot (Tapaz, Capiz : Panay Bukidnon Tribe)
3. Linamay-Sapot (Libacao, Aklan : Nono Teodosio)
4. Linamay-Inilong (Libacao, Aklan : Nono Teodosio)
5. Kinampit-Sapot (Libacao, Aklan : Nono Teodosio)
6. Ginunting-Bakunawa (Sibalom, Antique : Toto Melocores/ Noy Pakit)
7. Ginunting (Bongbongan, Sibalom Antique : Unknown)
8. Ginunting- Utility (Culasi, Antique : Arthuro Martizano)
9. Bakutan - Inyutan (Libacao, Aklan : Joselito Redecio Jr.)
10. Bakutan - Bakunawa (Sibalom, Antique : Toto Melocores/ Noy Pakit)
11. Bakutan - Bakunawa (Culasi, Antique : Arthuro Martizano)
12. Bakutan (Bongbongan, Sibalom Antique : Unknown)
13. Bakutan (Odiong, Sibalom Antique : Tandog Blacksmiths)
The details provided are the names of the swords, the village or town where they were made, and the name of the panday. All very specific information about these recently made blades.

So far I have shown examples that all appear to be very helpful, with clear information. The next two pictures introduce some ambiguity.
The first one had the following description:
Quote:
Taribong and Binalhag of Mabini, Western Samar
The second had the following:
Quote:
Taribong and Sansibar of Albuera, Leyte
Now the sword labeled taribong (which appears to be synonymous with talibong) is the same sword in each picture, but it is given two different origins. Are these swords from Leyte or Samar? The two islands lie side by side in the eastern Visayas, so the distinction may not be all that important (except to those who live there), but one of these pictures seems to be mislabeled.
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Old 28th November 2018, 01:30 PM   #3
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Default FTB (part III)

This photograph shows an agricultural tool from Palawan.
Quote:
"Pangarit" Panabas of Palawan.
Also called Panabas and Garab in other regions.
Used for clearing tall grass and gathering food for cattle livestock.
This item is attributed to Palawan, which is a Tagalog-speaking island (except perhaps in the south among Muslim groups). I cannot find pangarit in my Tagalog/English dictionary. It appears to be derived from the affix pan/pang- and -arit. Arit is a Malay word meaning "sickle" which, given the appearance of this blade, would be an accurate description. There is a term in Cebuano, pangarit, which is synonymous with karit and that also means "sickle." I am unsure why a Palawano blade would have a Cebuano name, but the native term seems to be "sickle." It is a little disturbing to see that this also seems to be called panabas or garab in other regions. Neither a Moro panabas nor a Visayan garab look anything like this sickle.

I think this is one way in which unfortunate rumors can start. The neophyte reading this might jump to the conclusion that the panabas is a weapon of Muslims on Palawan. And so we have the Palawano panabas being discussed as if it were a fact. There could be a Palawano panabas similar to those in Mindanao or Sulu (I've never heard of one or seen any evidence for such a claim), but this picture is not the evidence for such a weapon or tool.

My conclusion on reading this site (and I did not get through all of it by any means) is that there are some really good data mixed in with some confusing and sometimes inaccurate information. Sorting through what's good and what's not takes an experienced eye and some knowledge of the languages used. I don't have the linguistic skills to decipher the subtleties of different dialects and had to rely on books/online sources. I would suggest that folks read the data on this site carefully and try to figure out what is wheat and what is chaff. Like any blog site, the material is not reviewed for accuracy and people can post whatever they wish. That said, this site seems above average in the quality of its pictures and comments.

DISCLAIMER: Everything I have written here is my personal view and in no way reflects the opinions of Vikingsword, EEWRS, or other members of this web site.

Ian
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Old 29th November 2018, 01:50 AM   #4
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Default talibong and binalhag, sansibar

"Taribong and Binalhag of Mabini, Western Samar"

"Taribong and Sansibar of Albuera, Leyte"

"Now the sword labeled taribong (which appears to be synonymous with talibong) is the same sword in each picture, but it is given two different origins. Are these swords from Leyte or Samar? The two islands lie side by side in the eastern Visayas, so the distinction may not be all that important (except to those who live there), but one of these pictures seems to be mislabeled."

-- binalhag is the blade under the talibong in the first picture. binalhag was from mabini, western samar.

sansibar, under the talibong (2nd pic), sansibar was from albuera, leyte.

the talibong in the photo was just placed side by side with another blade from mabini and albuera respectively.
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Old 29th November 2018, 01:59 AM   #5
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Thanks PBH for the clarification. So a clearer reading for these attributions would be "Binalhag (W. Samar) with a Talibong," and "Sansibar (Albuera, Leyte) with a Talibong." The origin of the Talibong in each case is unspecified. Ian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinoy Blade Hunter
"Taribong and Binalhag of Mabini, Western Samar"

"Taribong and Sansibar of Albuera, Leyte"

"Now the sword labeled taribong (which appears to be synonymous with talibong) is the same sword in each picture, but it is given two different origins. Are these swords from Leyte or Samar? The two islands lie side by side in the eastern Visayas, so the distinction may not be all that important (except to those who live there), but one of these pictures seems to be mislabeled."

-- binalhag is the blade under the talibong in the first picture. binalhag was from mabini, western samar.

sansibar, under the talibong (2nd pic), sansibar was from albuera, leyte.

the talibong in the photo was just placed side by side with another blade from mabini and albuera respectively.
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Old 29th November 2018, 03:21 AM   #6
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Binangon/Binakuko
Quote:
"Binangon" Maasin, Iloilo
More commonly known as "Binakuko" in other islands.

The most important bolo type manufactured by the Badiangan blacksmiths are
  • Binakuko for chopping wood;
  • Sinuwak for carpentry and cutting shrubs and smaller trees;
  • Ginunting having the same function as the Sinuwak;
  • Pinuti for slicing meat;
  • Tangkap for kitchen use;
  • Linamay, Surot, and Balintawak are used in gardening;
  • Kayog is used to harvest rice; and
  • Wasay used to chop lumber and bigger trees.
Bolos are made by hand with blades made from recycled steel.
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Old 29th November 2018, 03:39 AM   #7
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Tukew and Garab, Palaw'an people, Palawan

Quote:
"Tukew" and "Garab" Palaw'an Tribe (Quezon, Palawan)

A Palaw'an brother was kind enough to pose for a photo witb his EDC. A "Garab" he is holding which is used to cut grass. And the traditional bolo of his tribe, called a "Tukew".

The Palaw'an is one of the indigenous tribes of Palawan.
The garab shown here is a tool that resembles rice knives used elsewhere, although described here as used for cutting grass. We don't see the blade of the tukew but it is possibly what has been described here previously as a Palawano bangkung.
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Old 29th November 2018, 08:28 AM   #8
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"Obtip"óDavao City
Quote:
"Obtip" Matigsalog Tribe

This is the traditional IP bolo (Sundang) of the Matigsalog Tribe of Sitio Marahan, Marilog District of Davao City. Locally called an "Obtip"

Forged by a katutubo panday of the community.

Our thanks to the tribe elders who allowed us to share a photo of their tribe's traditional blade.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 09:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
This photograph shows an agricultural tool from Palawan.
This item is attributed to Palawan, which is a Tagalog-speaking island (except perhaps in the south among Muslim groups). I cannot find pangarit in my Tagalog/English dictionary. It appears to be derived from the affix pan/pang- and -arit. Arit is a Malay word meaning "sickle" which, given the appearance of this blade, would be an accurate description. There is a term in Cebuano, pangarit, which is synonymous with karit and that also means "sickle." I am unsure why a Palawano blade would have a Cebuano name, but the native term seems to be "sickle." It is a little disturbing to see that this also seems to be called panabas or garab in other regions. Neither a Moro panabas nor a Visayan garab look anything like this sickle.

I think this is one way in which unfortunate rumors can start. The neophyte reading this might jump to the conclusion that the panabas is a weapon of Muslims on Palawan. And so we have the Palawano panabas being discussed as if it were a fact. There could be a Palawano panabas similar to those in Mindanao or Sulu (I've never heard of one or seen any evidence for such a claim), but this picture is not the evidence for such a weapon or tool.

My conclusion on reading this site (and I did not get through all of it by any means) is that there are some really good data mixed in with some confusing and sometimes inaccurate information. Sorting through what's good and what's not takes an experienced eye and some knowledge of the languages used. I don't have the linguistic skills to decipher the subtleties of different dialects and had to rely on books/online sources. I would suggest that folks read the data on this site carefully and try to figure out what is wheat and what is chaff. Like any blog site, the material is not reviewed for accuracy and people can post whatever they wish. That said, this site seems above average in the quality of its pictures and comments.

DISCLAIMER: Everything I have written here is my personal view and in no way reflects the opinions of Vikingsword, EEWRS, or other members of this web site.

Ian
.


Hi sir Ian,

Your review is much appreciated, thanks for this. If I may point out, however, the format of FilTradBlades is to present the weapons as is, as they are identified by the regional peoples affiliated with them (I say regional peoples and not Filipino, as certain groups- such as BangsaMoro- identify themselves differently).

I don't believe there is a 1:1 correspondence with regards to a particular Filipino weapon and its name. For example, a Talibong in Panay is so different than the extinct Leyte Talibong. The Ginuntings of Antique and Bikol, while sharing similar names, have different blade profiles, grind, and hilt style. The list goes on- sundang, pinuti, even panabas- different regions have different weapon schemas for these.

In light of this fact, there will always naturally be confusion regarding traditional weapon classification. The only way to circumvent this is to assign a thorough classification system- e.g. Regional, Provincial, Tribal or Peoples-specific (Southern Palawan, Palaw'an Tribe, Badung).

I believe the primary objectives of FilTradBlades are as follows: 1) to combat the misinformation being spearheaded by commercialized blade reproduction outfits (they are now legion), 2) to profile the FilTradBlades in their natural habitat, with the correct regional and cultural context in mind; and most importantly, 3) to support the remaining traditional smiths by showcasing their stories and products.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 01:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xasterix
Hi sir Ian,

Your review is much appreciated, thanks for this. If I may point out, however, the format of FilTradBlades is to present the weapons as is, as they are identified by the regional peoples affiliated with them (I say regional peoples and not Filipino, as certain groups- such as BangsaMoro- identify themselves differently).

I don't believe there is a 1:1 correspondence with regards to a particular Filipino weapon and its name. For example, a Talibong in Panay is so different than the extinct Leyte Talibong. The Ginuntings of Antique and Bikol, while sharing similar names, have different blade profiles, grind, and hilt style. The list goes on- sundang, pinuti, even panabas- different regions have different weapon schemas for these.

In light of this fact, there will always naturally be confusion regarding traditional weapon classification. The only way to circumvent this is to assign a thorough classification system- e.g. Regional, Provincial, Tribal or Peoples-specific (Southern Palawan, Palaw'an Tribe, Badung).

I believe the primary objectives of FilTradBlades are as follows: 1) to combat the misinformation being spearheaded by commercialized blade reproduction outfits (they are now legion), 2) to profile the FilTradBlades in their natural habitat, with the correct regional and cultural context in mind; and most importantly, 3) to support the remaining traditional smiths by showcasing their stories and products.
Hi xasterix:

Thank you for putting the information on this site in sharper perspective. It is indeed important to understand the primary focus of the FTB site in recording verbatim the names (as used by locals) of these items and their source. Collecting raw data in this manner certainly has merit, but, as you point out, it needs to lead to a classification system that provides a rational nosology for these edged weapons and tools. While it is relatively easy to assemble a data base of pictures and names, sorting through the individual items to arrive at an overall classification system is much harder.

To a degree, Robert Cato attempted to do this for Moro edged weapons (with moderate success). Albert van Zonneveld's classification of Indonesian weapons was a more detailed and broader classification, based largely on blade shapes and hilt styles. There are examples of this type of approach for weapons of other cultures too.

I think the problems come when folks try to extrapolate/speculate beyond the information provided but do not understand the limitations of the data.

Ian
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Old 3rd December 2018, 01:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
I believe the primary objectives of FilTradBlades are as follows: 1) to combat the misinformation being spearheaded by commercialized blade reproduction outfits (they are now legion), 2) to profile the FilTradBlades in their natural habitat, with the correct regional and cultural context in mind; and most importantly, 3) to support the remaining traditional smiths by showcasing their stories and products


thank you for this. i've tried in my own way to do likewise, but it's an uphill battle, so sometimes i feel like the best way is to just let it be.
but i do commend you and your page. madamo gid nga salamat
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