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Old 3rd March 2018, 12:19 AM   #1
Aslan Paladin
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Default Moro Kris with Atypical Blade And A Borneo Kris For Sharing

Hello,

I won a couple of kris swords November last year and I am sharing for comments. The first one is a Sulu (?) kris with an atypical-shaped, laminated blade and a bone kakatua-shaped hilt. It is about 23.5 inches OAL with a 18.5 inch long blade. The ferrule and asang-asang are made of copper. The second one is a Borneo kris (according to auction site). It measures about 23.5 inches OAL as well with a blade a little over 18.5 inches long. The hilt is made of wood with foliate carvings and has a silver sleeve. The images are from the auction site, with additional images to come. Comments are most welcome.
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Old 3rd March 2018, 12:45 AM   #2
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intersting swords. the first one looks like a cross between kris and some type of bolo/ sundang.

thanks for sharing!

pbh
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Old 3rd March 2018, 12:56 AM   #3
kai
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Hello Algelan,

Quote:
I won a couple of kris swords November last year

I had been wondering who snapped them up - congrats!


Quote:
The first one is a Sulu (?) kris with an atypical-shaped, laminated blade

Quite small blade for this type; I wouldn't rule out Mindanao though...


Quote:
The second one is a Borneo kris (according to auction site)

I especially like the pommel!


Both pieces appear to originate from the 19th century IMHO. More pics would be more than welcome for verification and gaining additional insights!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 3rd March 2018, 02:26 PM   #4
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The first one is a saber form that is rarer but not known. Is the pommel bone or imported antler?

The second is a form that has been seen here before, but not sure if it had Visayan influence or not.
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Old 4th March 2018, 12:06 AM   #5
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Additional photos as promised.
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Old 4th March 2018, 12:09 AM   #6
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Group photo with two of my other short kris swords, an archaic kris and a horn-hilt Sulu kris.
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Old 4th March 2018, 03:54 PM   #7
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Two nice additions to your great collection. I like special the one with bone pommel and saber blade.
The other one has a very nice pommel but need some restore work, special adding the asang-asang. And I agree with Kai's age guess.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 4th March 2018, 04:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Group photo with two of my other short kris swords, an archaic kris and a horn-hilt Sulu kris.

Exhibiting well the diversity - very nice family pic, Algelan!

For a more thorough analysis, I'd love to see those blades etched...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 4th March 2018, 05:04 PM   #9
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Hello Jose,

Quote:
The first one is a saber form that is rarer but not known.

I reckon you meant to say "not unknown"?

BTW, I still believe we need a better description than "saber" for this type with slightly asymmetric blade.


Quote:
Is the pommel bone or imported antler?

The inner core clearly looks like bone to me. Are those blackish "dents" from burning?


Quote:
The second is a form that has been seen here before, but not sure if it had Visayan influence or not.

I'd be very surprised if this pommel is genuine Visayan work.

I'm not sure what the collector's Borneo reference was based on; a "southern" origin may be plausible though:
1. The mouth carving style alludes to those kris attributed to Tawi-Tawi.
2. The hexagonal cross-section of the blade is unusual and may point to some Bugis influence.
3. The pommel with its finely carved decoration/motifs is unusual for mainstream Sulu (nor Maranao/Maguindanao) work. It does seem to belong to pommels possibly originating from north(west)ern Borneo, attributed by AM to the Bisaya ethnic groups (clustering in the greater Brunei region).


Does the silver sleeve exhibit any signs that clamps secured the gangya earlier? I'd posit that the hilt lost some silver and it is possible that any clamps were attached with silver wire.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 4th March 2018, 05:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
I especially like the pommel!

Is it possible that the pommel on this second kris was once a kakatau pommel that was reshaped some time ago due to damage. It has particular features to it which lead me to believe so.
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Old 5th March 2018, 01:01 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the feedbacks guys!

Kai, I was lucky to get the two kris swords at the price I got them. I was pleasantly surprised as I knew both are relatively rare as compared to the other Moro kris swords offered at the same auction. I agree that the asymmetric blade kris seems smaller than similar swords I have seen in the net so far but it feels comfortable when held in the hand, not flimsy or anything like that.

I think you are right that the handle of the first kris is burnt bone comparing it with images I've Googled. The Haversian canals in the underside of the pommel is also suggestive of bone.

The hexagonal cross section of the second kris being possibly Bugis-influenced is an interesting thought, thanks for pointing that out.

I couldn't see any gap in the silver sleeve that could suggest an area of insertion for an asang-asang unless it was one that was externally fixed to the hilt with silver wire as you have opined (similar to the second from left kris of the group pic of swords you provided).

I don't have enough confidence in my etching skills to proceed any further without damaging the blade and I don't have access to more potent etchants. Anyway I am satisfied with the linear, central lamination folds of the first kris and I can't see any indication of any pattern from the blade of the second kris.

Thanks for the link to the northwestern Borneo swords (very interesting stuff), the hilt of the second kris does look similar to them.

David, I think you are right that the hilt had been a re-shaped kakatua, particularly the back that has been rounded. It seems that it was done in the distant past as there is no discernible difference in patina and the contour is well stream-lined. It also probably had silver plates to the sides at one point as there are 3 pin holes on each side, similar to the middle kris in the group pics of northwestern Borneo Bisaya kris swords Kai provided.

Jose, is this 'saber' type blade forged by Moros or are they imported from further down south? Is there any significance to them like status symbol or just a matter of preference for the owner? And is there a known time frame in which this blade type was produced? Sorry for the multiple questions.

Sajen, it would indeed be nice to have the second kris' asang-asang restored as well as the missing silver platings on the hilt. In the meantime I'm fine with the way it is.

PBH, I agree that the first kris looks like a cross between a kris and a bolo. But the blade is forged the way it is, not a converted one.

Last edited by Aslan Paladin : 5th March 2018 at 01:27 AM.
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Old 5th March 2018, 08:40 PM   #12
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Hi AP:

Two nice examples you found!

The first one with the broad straight blade is a blade profile we have seen here before. I recall another example about 12-15 years ago, perhaps on the old UBB forum (presently out of action). To me the ensemble looks Maguindanao with a bone kakatua of typical shape and the gangya area is one of two styles that Cato has attributed to the Maguindanao. The cord wrap is non-specific, but again consistent with work from the same group. I would put this one as mid- to late-19th C, with a more recent hilt.

The second one could well be older and I don't think it is typical Moro work. Mention has been made of the hexagonal cross section to the blade and beveled edges, while this particular small kakatua looks atypical for the area. I think Lee Jones has a sword with a similar hilt and in the discussion of his sword I believe that someone posted another old kris with a blade similar to this one. IIRCC the consensus on Lee's sword was that it came from Borneo or Malaysia. I've tried looking for the discussion of Lee's sword but it may also be on the old UBB site.

Thanks for posting these.

Ian
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Old 5th March 2018, 08:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
The first one with the broad straight blade is a blade profile we have seen here before.


Have a look to this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=kris+saber
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Old 5th March 2018, 09:50 PM   #14
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I think this is a similar blade type http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=10237
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Old 5th March 2018, 10:44 PM   #15
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I'd posit that we're actually seeing 2 (or even 3) blade styles here:

1a. Basically a fairly typical Moro kris: a pretty much straight, double-edged blade with only slightly asymmetrical edges and tip (since non-archaic Moro kris are rarely utilized for stabbing, this doesn't really change the ergonomics that much. Albert's piece and the one from the Tropenmuseum in this thread are good examples.

1b. This variant conforms to the definition given above for 1a. However, the blade tends to be shorter with a pronounced belly: Pretty much a cross-breed between a Moro kris and a barung. Here is an old example from Holstein.

2. A long, curved sabre blade (often a repurposed import blade to which a Moro base with gangya got attached by forging); usually single-edged (or with a limited false edge). Here is an example.

Type #2 often looks a bit crudely worked and they seem to appear during the late 19th century while the other variants appear to be older, genuine Moro styles.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 6th March 2018, 03:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Thanks Detlef. Yes, I recall that discussion and that sword. The one I have in mind had the same shaped blade as the subject of this post and was shown by Justin on the old UBB forum. It was so similar it could have come from the same panday. Unfortunately, that forum is damaged and unavailable at present.

Kai, your classification looks good to me. The traditional straight-bladed kris (a sundang or other local names--see Cato, etc.) has a spear point that distinguishes it from these other variants. On some late 19th C and later examples of the traditional straight form (usually Mindanao kris in my experience) the spear point is less rounded and more V-shaped, as if it were intended for a stabbing action.

Attached are pictures of a 20th C Mindanao sword. It is partly waved and mostly straight. My reasons for posting it are the similarity in hilt style and componentsóbone or stag kakatua, cord-wrapped hiltóto one in the original post, and the V-shaped tip I mentioned above. This one does not have a separate gangya.

The vendor's tag from 20+ years ago was still attached. It came from an arts and crafts store in Intramuros, Manila. Although advertised as "Maranao" this one would fit more closely with Cato's classification of Maguindanao.

Ian.
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Old 6th March 2018, 10:47 PM   #17
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I agree with Ian on this being Maguindanao.

Also your saber kris I don't think was ever an imported blade, just a rare blade. As far as we can tell, it seems to go back into the 1800s.
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Old 23rd March 2018, 01:53 PM   #18
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Nice collection, Aslan Paladin!

Fernando
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Old 27th March 2018, 03:06 PM   #19
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Is there a specific way to determine if the kris is a moro blade compared to an indonesian blade or even a malaysian keris?
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Old 7th April 2018, 07:51 PM   #20
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The reason I was asking is because I have the exact same type of kris and it made me wonder if these swords are variants of imported swords that were retrofitted to suit local palates. From what I can see the pommels were shaped in the heads of the sarimanok, legendary jungle fowls attributed with supernatural powers
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