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Old 22nd September 2017, 02:54 AM   #1
Rafngard
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Default At long last, Garabs!

Hello All,

We discussed the possibility of three categories of the Garab/Talibon(g) form (Perhaps better rendered as Garab -> Talibon). The discussion is here

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=22271

A brief summary:

Category 1: "Garabs"
19th cent. (maybe earlier) - early 20th Cent.
Usually better quality blades, a thumb rest, and often an eye on the scabbard.

Category 2: "Early Talibon(g)s"
Early 20th - WWII
Often working pieces, retaining some, but not all of the characteristics of Category 1, usually with no thumb rest.

Category 3: "Talibon(g)s"
WWII - Present
Traditional forms sometimes retained, but a wide variety of divergent forms exist.

I have long Category 3 is widely available; I have a number. Category 2 is less common. Category 1 is the rarest and usually go for the highest price (especially when in excellent condition).

I have finally gotten what I believe are a couple of Garabs.
Both have clearly seem use. I strongly suspect someone's (great) grand father brought these back from the Spanish American war. The scabbard on both are damaged, and both blades need a cleaning (this will probably happen this weekend). At least one shows signs of lamination. The smaller one has some robe and red thread on the scabbard. I'm not sure if these are original or not. I'd guess the rope is, the red thread less so (though the seller thought it a sign of Bogobo ownership).

I took a few quick pictures this afternoon.

Comments? Thoughts? Am I right with the above? Completely wrong?
What do people think?


Have fun,
Leif
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Old 22nd September 2017, 04:45 AM   #2
Ian
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Hi Leif:

Two nice garab/talibong. The general appearance of these would suggest early- to mid-20th C. to me. The rattan braidings on the hilts and larger scabbard look like recent replacements. The strips on the scabbards, in particular, are often thin and get brittle and break over time--the scabbards are often missing a band or two. These strips look fairly new.

I think the broad thrust of your attempt to date the sequence of changes is probably fairly accurate overall. It's important to remember that changes in weapons in the Philippines occur sporadically, and that some areas in Leyte and Samar were probably still producing traditional garab up until WWII and after.

I have a Warai friend from Leyte who told me that people in his village were still producing knives "in the old way" when he was a kid in the 1970s. Unfortunately, my friend is not very familiar with knives and did not know if his village was still making traditional garab at that time. The point though is that some traditional craftsmen were probably still producing these knives into the mid-20th C, or perhaps later, while others had already moved on to somewhat different styles.

The strong presence of U.S. forces in the eastern Visayas following Macarthur's landing there through to the conclusion of WWII led to a market for many of the knives that you class as Category 3. Perhaps we see a lot of them in the U.S. because they were brought home as souvenirs. Iron was in plentiful supply at the time (courtesy of military scrap) and many of these WWII and later knives are monosteel (sometimes with a hardened edge).

While there has clearly been an evolution (degrading?) of style in these eastern Visayan knives following WWII, a changing trend during the first half of the 20th C. seems more subtle and difficult to define.

Ian.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 07:27 PM   #3
kai
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Hello Leif,

Quote:
19th cent. (maybe earlier) - early 20th Cent.
Usually better quality blades, a thumb rest, and often an eye on the scabbard.

The wood quality may also be an indicator: While there may have been some examples of lesser, "village" quality, all complete, genuine old-timers seem to come with scabbards made from high-quality wood and hilts from different types of hardwood, too. After possibly the Span.-Am. war, the wood quality seems to deteriorate quite quickly. As suggested by Ian, there may be regional (or urban vs. remote areas) differences, too.

I'm also not sure whether the thumb rest is an essential feature of mid-19th c. (and earlier) pieces. Nor how long this feature was being made...


Quote:
At least one shows signs of lamination.

The longer one most likely has an inserted edge (actually, both probably do).


Quote:
The smaller one has some robe and red thread on the scabbard. I'm not sure if these are original or not. I'd guess the rope is, the red thread less so (though the seller thought it a sign of Bogobo ownership).

The rope looks used but not terribly old; the red thread may be fairly recent replacement.


While the fittings do look younger, I would not be surprised if both blades were 19th century examples.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 23rd September 2017, 04:44 AM   #4
Ian
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Here are a couple of older ones for comparison. They were exhibited in the History of Steel Exhibition in Macau.

The one without a scabbard was said to be pre-1900, and the other one is probably 19th C. also. Plate 12 (no. 6) from Krieger's treatise on Filipino weapons (viewable on this site) also shows an older example similar to the HOS examples.

Both of yours are in the older style, and could have been be made in the 19th C. as Kai suggests. One of the distinguishing features of the old style was a concave spine of the blade, as seen in the HOS examples, whereas the more recent examples have a straight spine and often a straight tang (in line with the blade) rather than the angled tang seen in older examples. The more recent, altered alignment of the hilt in relation to the blade makes them a less effective "chopper" and more suited to stabbing or slicing.

Ian.


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Old 23rd September 2017, 08:55 AM   #5
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Hello Leif,

two very nice examples, congrats!

Like Ian I would agree with your classification but I think that in the second group can be found also 19th century examples.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 23rd September 2017, 09:04 AM   #6
Sajen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
One of the distinguishing features of the old style was a concave spine of the blade, as seen in the HOS examples, whereas the more recent examples have a straight spine and often a straight tang (in line with the blade) rather than the angled tang seen in older examples.


Hi Ian,

I am not really sure that this is a good indicator for old/antique examples, it may be correct for some but not for all, see for example the family picture from Leif (the thread he provided in post #1), there are a few examples shown of clearly later manufacture with a concave spine, see picture.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 23rd September 2017, 03:23 PM   #7
Ian
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Hi Detlef:

Good point. What I should have said was that all of the old style (19th C.) examples I have seen had a concave spine on the blade, downward angled tang, and a "thumb rest" at forte. This compares to what many of the more recent examples have evolved (degraded?) to, with a straighter spine, less of an angle between the tang and blade, and no "thumb rest."

There are intermediate forms that retain some of the older features, such as a more acutely angled tang or a concave spine of the blade. The "thumb rest" seems to have been the first feature to be omitted, and is uncommon on these knives after WWII (I would not say disappeared after WWII based on my comments above). I think the next to go was probably the concave spine of the blade and lastly the angled tang. The latter features probably reflect less skill or time required in making the knife. The appearance of examples with slender blades (as shown in several of Leif's examples) also seems to date from the WWII period and later, and again suggest a use more for stabbing and slicing rather than chopping.

As far as edge treatment on these knives, I think quenching may be the main method used on more recent examples and perhaps edge insertion on older ones. I don't recall many inserted edges on more recent examples that I have seen. Some of the blades, even clearly older examples (of which I've handled maybe 20 or so), seem to be monosteeel although most were not etched to reveal any lamination so it's hard to be sure. One of the HOS examples above seems to have some lamination.

Many of the more recent knives, while perhaps lacking the skill and time that went into making the older style, are still very sturdy knives that cut well and would serve their original purpose. The wide variety of hilts seen on more recent examples came largely during and after WWII, when they were originally marketed to U.S. troops.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 23rd September 2017 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 23rd September 2017, 04:13 PM   #8
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Hi Ian,

yes, agree complete with you! And thank you for your detailed answer.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 24th September 2017, 04:09 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your comments.

One question. How does an "inserted edge" differ from "San Mai" blade construction, or a "lamminated" blade?

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 24th September 2017, 07:19 PM   #10
Ian
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Good question.

San mai is an inserted edge. Basically, a hardened piece is inserted between two softer pieces to create a tougher cutting edge. A laminated blade usually refers to the blade having been made by heating and folding the steel and pounding it out, then folding again, etc. Using different metal layers can create striking patterns, so it is sometimes called "pattern welded." This differs from "wootz" in which the pattern results from crystallization of its components after iron and various additives are heated in a crucible to make the steel.

Both laminated and wootz blades can have hardened edges produced by differential heating of the edge to alter the crystalline structure.

That's my completely lay explanation. We have expert metallurgists here who can give you way, way more details and there are several essays on wootz and steel-making techniques elsewhere on this web site. For example, see here for Lee's discussion of pattern welding and here for Ann's discussion of wootz (pulad) blades and techniques.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafngard
One question. How does an "inserted edge" differ from "San Mai" blade construction, or a "laminated" blade?

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 24th September 2017, 09:18 PM   #11
Sajen
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Well explained!
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