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Old 23rd March 2005, 09:36 PM   #1
Spunjer
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Default Panabas, aka Bruticus Maximus...

...for some reason, those were the first words that popped on my head the first time i saw this piece. it is very heavy; weighing in at 3.5 lbs. as for the rest of the stats, well here it is.

the blade is 7/16" wide. it is about 18 inches long and the tip measured 5". one thing to notice; the blade has a diamond cross section. not quite shandigan (thx, ian ), but nevertheless it is still an uncommon type. i did try to etch it but am afraid to go any further. i just wanted to know if it was laminated or not...

the handle was kinda loose, but nothing that was hard to fix. total length is 13.25 inches. instead of the usual rattan bindings, this one has thin metal grip. the metal is evenly covered with rust. i can't tell the difference between blood rust or common rust, but i would like to assume that it is blood rust . also, there are what seems to be tacks made out of brass which really accentuate the handle. one thing that sticks out are the two bands on the end; can't tell whether it is white brass or low grade silver. there was something behind the brass tacks closest to the end of the handle that attracted my attention. seems to be it has an 'x' mark on it. also, there are three x's just on side of the handle. you would think, it'd go all the way around, but for some reason, only one side had x's on (hash marks, maybe?).

well, anyhow, just sharing with everyone my very first "real" panabas. would love to hear everyone's comments.
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Old 23rd March 2005, 09:52 PM   #2
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What a great puppy! The bands look like silver, although it would be good to have someone test them out to see if they are silver or white metal.
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Old 23rd March 2005, 10:46 PM   #3
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That ain't rust ; it's patina .

Spunj , I can't tell from the pictures ; how many layers did you find on the blade ?

These little panabas are a combination of sword and impact weapon .

Really nice !!
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Old 24th March 2005, 01:22 AM   #4
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patina? he he oops. thanks for the clarification, rick. as for the layers, i counted three.

Quote:
These little panabas are a combination of sword and impact weapon


could this be the type that are carried during battles, or is there such a thing (battle panabas)?
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Old 24th March 2005, 01:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spunjer
is there such a thing (battle panabas)?

Sure
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Old 24th March 2005, 01:37 AM   #6
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Talking Well .....

The little fella shown in this picture has some nasty nicks in the blade and a bullet wound .
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Old 24th March 2005, 01:42 AM   #7
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The three are macro layers; each may be composed itself of layers, and if it's prewar (wwII; the meaningful dividing line of the old times from the new for so many of the Earth's peoples) they probably are; even if it was made last year, it wouldn't be terribly unlikely, based on stuff I see come out of PI. A deeper etch might show this, but if each macro layer is fairly homogenous (ie. muchly folded), which is common, only an etch deep enough to have a somewhat textured/rough "hand", which you may not desire.
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Old 24th March 2005, 07:25 AM   #8
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Nice find, Spunger, and congrats!
The bands appear to be silver, and if so will clean easily with some decent silver polish (I use Metal Glo, made of aluminum oxide and non-abrasive) if so desired.....iron often photographs with a brownish hue in the "patina" **grin**.
To the best of my knowledge, the panabas is actually a farming tool used much like a scythe or sickle and that just happens to be very effective for removing heads (and other body parts) and thus was often used as a weapon.
I've got a contemprary piece that is almost identical, the same measurements and weight, with a blade actually thicker than in other, longer specimens that I've seen, to the point that I suspect it's an extremely localized form from one particular tribe.
Yours, of course, has some real age to it, but the brass tack repairs on the silver would seem to indicate that it was valued enough to keep and improve upon, much like a kris, making me suspect that it's seen actual combat and is not JUST a farm implement, which is about as close to a "fighting panabas" as you can get.
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Old 24th March 2005, 11:21 PM   #9
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Ok, just wanted to clarify. While it has been theorized (eg. Bob Cato) that the weapon Panabas that we are so fond of collecting evolved from an agricultural tool, the Panabas as a weapon was not a dual use sword like a Xtian bolo. Like the Kampilan they were symbols of State power, and one can see many period pics of Mindanao court gatherings with Panabas born on the shoulders of a Datu's followers. Furthermore they played a deep role in state executions. While it has errors, Bob Cato's book does offer some glimpse into the historic role of the Panabas.
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Old 25th March 2005, 12:38 AM   #10
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Red face

Swiped from Ebay .
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Old 25th March 2005, 03:08 AM   #11
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thanks for everyone's response!

Federico, would you care to elaborate more about the panabas? to me, it's really a very enigmatic weapon/tool(?). the only thing i know about it is what i read on cato's book.

Rick, i always thought the first picture's pretty cool. as you scan thru the moros from right to left, they look like some mean SOB's that you just don't wanna mess with; that is until you get to the very last person on the left. now why did he have to pose like that?
btw, the panabas on the right looks weird. instead of the tip being flat, it's angled; seems like you can use it for thrusting. nice specimen. anyone here own something similar to that?

the bottom pic is news to me. it's kinda cool in a macabre way...
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Old 25th March 2005, 05:26 AM   #12
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Mmmm...silver hilted Panabas, I bet there is an awesome blade underneath that scabbard. One thing to note about that picture, seated in the middle is Datu Uto, rightfully the last sultan of Buayan/Maguindanao. He was immensely powerful, as well as wealthy. In the majority of Mindanao period pics, of various datus posing with their followers, that I have seen, I have seldom seen pics of scabbards laden in precious metals. Which highlights the rarity of such pieces as being only affordable/suitable to someone such as Datu Uto, who held off Spanish control of Mindanao effectively till they were forced to leave, despite their modern weaponry. Which is also why I am very very skeptical of many, if not most lavish metal hilted/scabbarded kris that pour out of PI. Beyond the mere limits of those of wealth at the time who could afford such lavishness, were the limits of those who were of the right status to even contemplate bearing such a kris. Ok I sidetracked.

Spunjer, afraid I dont have much to add. My experience with Panabas is very limited, as well as my knowledge of them. Ive heard stories similar to the ones in Cato's book (again even Bob would admit there are errors in there), Panabas that need to be fed regularly on blood or they will seek their own meal, Panabas being held in sacred spots in the homes of royalty as valued pusaka, etc... Also stories of Panabas bearers taking the rear of the line, to "finish up" those who werent quite finished by the first wave of fighters. Nothing too unique, and well alot of it is second hand (eg. I was told this). While I trust the people who told me, I cannot say that someone else may not have more accurate information. Ive also noted, in similar period Mindnanao court pics such as the one Rick posted, you can usually spot one being borne by a warrior, highlighting its role as symbol of State Power. Anyways, if one looks at alot of the more modern ag-based panabas that pop up on ebay, one can easily see a big difference in style/look. One can also see the connection between the evolution of the Panabas. However, its kinda like the garab/talibong. While there is a superficial resemblence to a more modern ag tool, its history as a fighting only weapon is beyond mere looks. Anyways, I suppose this isnt too helpful, but hopefully someone who knows more about Panabas can shed further light.
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Old 25th March 2005, 07:01 AM   #13
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Thanks for clarifying on the non-duality of the panabas, Federico, with what you stated being what I've suspected since I personally held one, as they are simply too heavy to be used in harvesting rice, no matter what the blade is shaped like.
In some instances, the weight of a particular bladed piece would seem to have immense bearing on its use as a weapon in spite of what is thought to be used for, often based upon what it's shape resembles.
If too heavy to be used in harvesting a food crop, such as rice, and with a hilt that wouldn't stand up if used in lieu of an axe, not much is left for a purpose besides a weapon if one uses common sense and the process of elimination.
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Old 25th March 2005, 07:10 PM   #14
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an interesting thing is one can easily look up PI court documents about criminal trials, on the internet. There is a number of murder trials (receint)that the panabas is the weapon, often being described as a agricultural tool. Little doubt the "Moro" panabas was strickly used as a weapon, but likely there was also a tool that at times was used as a weapon, then, as now.
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Old 25th March 2005, 09:21 PM   #15
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A very good point, Bill.
Does anyone know of a non-Moro tool or impliment that resembles a panabas from the PI, or even a Moro equivelent used JUST for agriculture?
Mike
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Old 26th March 2005, 04:14 AM   #16
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Mike:

We had one on this old thread http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/002044.html but unfortunately the pictures are gone now. I'll see if I still have them.

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Old 26th March 2005, 01:44 PM   #17
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From what I have read, the early "Moro" seldom used thier valuable iron for tools. But they were early ship builders, & a panabas would likely be valuable in the process. Anyone have info on "Moro" ship building. Seen quite a few referance to ship building in Mindanao but little attributed to early Sulu Archipelago. What early tools were needed?
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Old 26th March 2005, 02:51 PM   #18
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The most important tool would probably be the adze Bill .
After that the gimlet ; now the panabas could be used for shaping the edges of planking but at 3+ pounds it would be quite a burdensome tool to use all day . A drawknife , or plane would be better suited for the job .

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Old 26th March 2005, 06:12 PM   #19
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Big difference between Sulu and Mindanao Moros. While Sulu was more known for its sea oriented endeavors, Mindanao did have extensive agriculture, and ag played a big part particularly for the Sultanate Buayan in their trade roles (rice for jungle products or sea products). However, both groups did have agricultural infrastructures, though in Sulu not as robust as Mindanao. This is part of the reason why Spain was so enamoured with Mindanao, with the arable land they had hoped it could be the rice basket (so to speak) of PI. Part of the reason it is so popular right now for Xtian colonization from other islands, ag land.
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Old 26th March 2005, 06:31 PM   #20
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Everyone's got to eat.
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Old 26th March 2005, 06:56 PM   #21
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Thumbs up Philippine Photos

Can be found here :
http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/corps/index.html

Going back to browsing these excellent pictures .
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Old 27th March 2005, 07:09 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill
From what I have read, the early "Moro" seldom used thier valuable iron for tools. But they were early ship builders, & a panabas would likely be valuable in the process. Anyone have info on "Moro" ship building. Seen quite a few referance to ship building in Mindanao but little attributed to early Sulu Archipelago. What early tools were needed?


The local museum (inside the Spanish Fort del Pilar) here has a display on samal boat building tools and as well as several samal boats, large and small. I'll post some pictures I took. There are no panabas on display but I found a samal sangkil spear displayed as a fishing tool. the yakan sangkil i mentioned earlier has a broader profile. unlike the other moro tribes, the yakans are not seafarers.

A non-moro equivalent of the panabas (as an agri tool) would probably be the "tabas." it is a bolo with a question-mark like profile and is used in "kaingin."
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Old 27th March 2005, 07:57 AM   #23
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Default SAMAL SHIPBUILDING TOOLS

as promised here are the pics from Fort del Pilar museum.
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Old 27th March 2005, 08:07 AM   #24
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sorry for the poor resolution had to take pictures on the sly ("bawal po sir") and my cam has outdated technology.

the sangkil spears are the ones near the bottom. the three pointed spears are known as sapang as also used among tausugs. the yakan's sangkil comes in two variants: one with only one side of the head with a hook (what's the term?) and another type comes with both sides of the head with hooks and is known as "sulayang."
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Old 27th March 2005, 11:35 AM   #25
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Zamboanga, Great info, Thanks. I haven't seen before a specific group credited as the shipbuilders. From what I have seen only 3 early wrecks have been researched. Wonder if the Samal are the "shipbuilders" of the whole area, or other groups did also. Appears "lash-lugging" technique is what makes it a PI ship.
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Old 27th March 2005, 12:20 PM   #26
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Default you guys.......

Your worst pictures that you complain about are better than ones I'm happy with if I took 'em hee hee thanks; very interesting.
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Old 27th March 2005, 04:09 PM   #27
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The attached photo is of a little panabas, surely 20th-century, that I would characterize as agricultural. Total length is 22 inches. Blade length 10-1/4".
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Old 27th March 2005, 04:12 PM   #28
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And a panabas-like implement from another culture, which I am convinced is a weapon. It was sold as being from the Trobriand Islands, and certainly the incised and lime-filled wood handle suggests as much. Total length of 30 inches, the blade is about 15-1/4 inches.
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Old 27th March 2005, 05:30 PM   #29
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Dennee:

Yours has the appearance of a panabas, including the lime-filled okir decoration -- probably 20th C. Don't think you need to look for an origin outside the Moro, but it could be from N. Borneo. Trobriand Islands seems a stretch.
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Old 27th March 2005, 11:25 PM   #30
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dennee,
the bottom one looks like a panabas thru and thru. seller prolly didn't know what he had and listed it wrong...
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