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Old 18th January 2018, 06:03 PM   #1
ashkenaz
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Default Where did Moros get their Metals to make their blades (all time periods)

More amateur questions,

I've read a claim that Moros, before the times of the Hispanic era and during it to now, had pretty much made all their blades out of steel and never iron.

And then there is another claim that Moros forged their own steel, which contradicts a source I read that everyone in what would become the Philippines back then never mined their own metals and always imported them from other cultures.

These claims confuse me, sorry. Are these exaggerations or whatnot?

Thanks,
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Old 19th January 2018, 02:22 AM   #2
Battara
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Ok one thing straight up: the peoples in the Philippines DID mine their own metals and even traded and wore their own gold and silver jewelry. This goes back to pre-hispanic times.

As far as steel is concerned, there are iron mines in the PI, but the technology may have been brought over in pre-hispanic times from traders and contacts from Brunei, as well as China and perhaps even some Arab traders.

I will have to have more time to get some sources together if needed.

I admit that some of these claims irritate me, but I am glad you are asking questions instead of assuming. I respect that and bow in your presence.
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Old 20th January 2018, 01:48 AM   #3
Timo Nieminen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashkenaz
Are these exaggerations or whatnot?


Mostly. As Battara said, there was iron mining and smelting in the Philippines. For some brief details, see http://intersections.anu.edu.au/mon...ntz_metals.html

Traditional smelting was in bloomery furnaces. Chinese-style blast furnaces were used in continental South-East Asia (e.g., Thailand), mostly run by local people of Chinese origin. I don't know if any such blast furnaces were operating in the Philippines, but it's possible.

Iron and steel have been imported into the Philippines for many centuries (often from China), which probably (a) accounts for the exaggerated stories of all Philippine iron and steel being imported, and (b) reduced local iron/steel production. Even if imported iron/steel was available, there was still local production. Imported iron/steel must be bought, and even if you have no money or other suitable trade goods, you can make your own iron/steel from local charcoal, local ore, and local labour.

Very probably the Moros preferred to forge their blades from steel, or at least using laminated construction with steel edges (if you have access to steel, either locally-made or imported, and you know about hardening steel by quenching, why wouldn't you prefer steel edges?) But iron blades wouldn't surprise me, especially if it's a cheap tool or something like an arrowhead. Steel is better, but iron is cheaper.
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Old 30th January 2018, 09:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashkenaz
More amateur questions,

I've read a claim that Moros, before the times of the Hispanic era and during it to now, had pretty much made all their blades out of steel and never iron.

And then there is another claim that Moros forged their own steel, which contradicts a source I read that everyone in what would become the Philippines back then never mined their own metals and always imported them from other cultures.

These claims confuse me, sorry. Are these exaggerations or whatnot?

Thanks,

there is still people alive to this day that can describe steel and iron making that ive met in the phillipines.
in the areas where the people were under the control of the spanish im sure the much higher quality european steel was dominant.. but this steel costed money.. and even in areas where imported steel had been present for a long time locally made steel still existed for a long time. hence the lamination on blades .

in the mountainous tribal areas of the phillipines iron making probably survived till around ww2 in places and even today 1kg of spring costs about 5 times more there than in the lowland areas.
normally they would use small forges and from what im told some of the tribal groups knew neither tongs nor metal anvils so im told anvils were stone but they knew how to to make steel..
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Old 30th January 2018, 09:43 AM   #5
Timo Nieminen
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Tribal forging on Sarawak:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:...me_V0037410.jpg

Split wooden stick as tongs, stone anvil, stone hammers.
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Last edited by Robert : 30th January 2018 at 03:34 PM. Reason: Please download photos directly to the thread as per forum rules.
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Old 30th January 2018, 10:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen

Split wooden stick as tongs, stone anvil, stone hammers.


Very, very interesting!

Thank you!
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Old 30th January 2018, 11:50 AM   #7
Shieh
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Leftmost man is operating a bellow? Looks like a pair of hollowed out tree trunks, probably a palm specie.
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Last edited by Robert : 30th January 2018 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 1st February 2018, 09:45 AM   #8
Timo Nieminen
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Yes, bellows. Having two tubes allows a continuous flow of air, while still being usable by one person.
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Old 1st February 2018, 05:20 PM   #9
Ian
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The bellows shown here are a standard design used widely in SE Asia and southern Asia. They are virtually identical to the systems that were used in Burma and other mainland SE Asian areas to help create a very hot forge. The pistons comprise sticks wrapped with bird feathers that fit snugly in the cylinders.

It is a surprisingly efficient and very old system for achieving a forge fire that is sufficiently hot to melt iron and other metals. The ones I have seen operating used a combination of charcoal and wood cut into small pieces.

Ian.
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Old 1st February 2018, 05:58 PM   #10
Ian
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Timo has posted a link earlier in this thread to an excellent account of metal ore mining and processing in the early Spanish colonial period. Clearly there was indigenous iron ore mining and processing at that time. I can't add anything further for that period. I do have some experience with the Philippines mining industry more recently.

In the late 1990s I was part of a team doing consulting work in the Philippines for an Asian Development Bank project on the health of the Philippine population. Part of my task was to consider workplace health and safety conditions throughout the islands. We had a group of local consultants, and an article was published subsequently of some of the occupational health and safety work. In the course of our research we visited numerous workplaces (including metal extraction and foundries) in Manila and nearby areas, as well as in the Visayas and Mindanao. As one might expect, most current operations had started post-WWII, but there were a number that had been active in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Local metal mining and extraction, including iron and copper, was certainly present during Spanish colonial times. These industries became larger and more widespread during the U.S. period of governance (first half of the 20th C), and there were still large foreign mining corporations active in the Philippines in the early 2000s. Gold, silver and nickel mining and extraction have been conducted also in the Philippines for several centuries, although these were mainly small scale and poorly mechanized operations until about 50 years ago. Today there are mining and extraction operations for iron, copper, gold, nickel and silver, as well as some chromium mining and production.

I am unaware of any bauxite mining or aluminum smelting in the Philippines.

From the perspective of manufacturing knives and swords, there was indigenous iron, gold, silver, nickel, and copper production recorded in the late 19th C and during Spanish colonial times, and this continues today. Attached is a current map (June, 2017) provided by the Philippines Government that shows mining activities presently occurring in the Philippines. I have further information on the production levels of the various metals for each mine if you need those data.

Ian.
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