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Old 9th December 2017, 04:56 AM   #1
Vikingsword Staff
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Default Yakan Knives and Swords

We don't see many knives and swords from the group of Moros called the Yakan. These are people who live mainly on the island of Basilan or nearby Mindanao, mainly around Zamboanga. I picked up these two knives in either Zamboanga or Isabela (on Basilan) about 18 years ago. They were not exactly tourist knives, as neither place is a major tourist area (then or now), but they were of the more decorative type. The interwoven strips of rattan on the scabbard and the prominently angled end of the hilt are typical Yakan features. Sometimes one finds an elongated extension from the top of the hilt, most commonly seen on the pira (a weapon favored by the Yakan) but also seen sometimes on Yakan barung.

The top knife is a local version of the gunong, with a wavy blade and a small disc guard. (OAL out of scabbard = 11 inches)

The bottom knife is a bit of a mystery. The hilt, with an iron punto, is similar to what is found on a Yakan barung but the blade is slimmer than a barung and obviously clipped. The blade shape is reminiscent of a small gayang--a very rare Moro sword of which I have seen only two examples. (OAL out of scabbard = 13.5 inches)

While we occasionally see the pira in its traditional form, as well as a modified recent version, I would be interested to see what other knives and swords folks have from the Yakan.

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Old 10th December 2017, 05:15 AM   #2
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Is it possible that this small (probably post-WWII era) barong that I have is yakan?

In particular I'm thinking about the rattan pattern on the scabbard.
I've wondered for a while if it was a tourist piece, but the blade is good and thick.

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Old 10th December 2017, 07:58 PM   #3
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Hi Leif:

Yes, it has the same characteristics as the knives I have shown. The rattan or reed work on the scabbard is typical and the down-turned, almost "hooked," pommel is also in the same general style. It is quite common to find pinned or glued MOP pieces on these also, as yours has.

A mid- to late-20th C piece IMO. These are not high quality knives in terms of materials and the skill exhibited in making them, but they are certainly functional and I would not call them "tourist."

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