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Old 6th April 2005, 11:32 PM   #1
Ferguson
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Default A working bolo for your comments

Found this nice bolo on Ebay. It was apart. Originally it looked like it was made from a file, but the marks are just from rough filing after forging. I made a little keeper for the butt and epoxied the horn hilt on, then peened the tang. The scabbard fits well, and was made for the knife. The sash cord is not my work. Overall length is 22" with an 16" blade. Comments appreciated. Luzon perhaps?

Thanks for looking,

Steve
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Old 7th April 2005, 01:04 AM   #2
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Hi Steve:

That's a good looking job you did on the hilt. Seems to be a knife from Luzon. Any idea from the seller as to age. Seems post-WWII in style, although that "chopped off" style of blade has been around much longer than that.

Unusual scabbard.

Ian.
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Old 7th April 2005, 09:28 PM   #3
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Yup....I agree with Ian. Luzon. I have a similar one but I believe Katipunan. Would look nicer to have matching rattan binding replacing the cord. My sheath is leather that shrank due to age.
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Old 7th April 2005, 10:31 PM   #4
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Thanks Ian and Battara. I'd love to replace the rattan. How can I learn to braid it? Is there a website or a book that would teach it? I've got several old pieces that need rattan on the scabbard or hilt. Anyone?

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 8th April 2005, 03:09 AM   #5
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Default babble and some vague advice

Nice. The sword is no doubt pleased. This style is a "cut point" version of another syle; the sweep and taper of the blade are very typical, and make sense only within the paradigm of the original, pointed version. This is not to say this is an altered blade, but more likely a blade originally made in a shape which is an altered version of an other, older shape, if you follow me; I'm sorry, but I have no good word for this type of sword when it has the point; I think Therion called a similar one a balasiong or like that. Anyway, this making of a tipless, theoretically/legalistically noncombative version, of swords is an European custom, and common in former Spainish colonies. In other words, the tip is made that way as a statement of nonviolent intent.
I think you're probably OK with the epoxy, but I'll suggest for future repairers that the Luzon cutlers not uncommonly fill a horn cavity at the butt with a wooden cone. Ooh! I knew I was gonna say something else; there's a thread, I think towards the end days of the old forum, where some member or members posted pics and advice about weaving split rattan-skin bindings
I tend to think this particular variation on the hoof shaped pommel is distinctly 20th c.; maybe even post wwII? Anyone got any better input on that?

Last edited by tom hyle : 8th April 2005 at 03:45 AM. Reason: adding, adding; so forgetful!
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Old 8th April 2005, 12:54 PM   #6
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Tom:

I think this style of hilt may date back at least to the late 19th C., but it is certainly more prevalent post-WWII. I apprciate your thoughts about the cut point, and a European/Spanish influence makes a lot of sense. The original blade shape may have been called a matulis (= "pointy" in Tagalog) -- balasiong is a southern Philippines term, I believe, and has no connection to the more familiar balisong.

On the question of rattan bindings, I have been looking for a "how to" source for some time. My favorite style of wrap is that used by the Igorot tribes -- it seems sturdier and more durable than the work of other tribal groups. Igorot basketry is high quality too.

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Old 8th April 2005, 06:16 PM   #7
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So far as the lashings/bindings go, I have yet to find a perfect reference, but the simpler bindings sometimes turn up in books on knotmaking. I would check the local bookstore. Knotmaking books are usually in the sports section under boating, at least in the big US stores like Barnes and Noble or Borders.

Let me know if you find a better source!

Fearn
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Old 9th April 2005, 05:36 AM   #8
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What challenges me is getting the stuff to keep laying flat, and that's where knot patterns learned from cord don't help, I guess. I guess it's partly a matter of wetted/green pliability, and maybe narrower strips may be easier to keep flat through the side-winding than would wide ones. What of basket books? I haven't checked; just some thoughts.
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Old 9th April 2005, 10:14 AM   #9
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Searching the old forum came up with the book "Creative Ropecraft". I've ordered a used copy from Amazon.com. Also ordered some 11/64" flat/oval reed from here: http://www.royalwoodltd.com/cat05-06r.htm

We'll see how it goes. Thanks for all of your help guys.

Steve
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Old 9th April 2005, 03:17 PM   #10
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It might be helpful when using the wet method to tightly bind the wrapping itself during the drying process so that as it dries and shrinks it is kept flat .

I would guess that this weaving was originally done with green rattan strips and I don't know if the same effect could be obtained by using re-wetted rattan .
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Old 10th April 2005, 04:03 AM   #11
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A layer of some kind of temporary over-binding to make it lay flat while drying may be a good idea; I use it sometimes when leather-binding a wooden sheath. There's something about rattan not reacting to water as leather does; it seems real important, but I can't remember what it is.....
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Old 11th April 2005, 01:09 AM   #12
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Steve, here's a couple more for you to compare. These are NOT "matulis" bolos that have been chopped but forged specifically into this blade form. Included is a close-up of the tips to show that they actually flare up at the end.
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Old 11th April 2005, 09:23 AM   #13
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Very nice Zelbone. Thanks!

Steve
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Old 11th April 2005, 04:37 PM   #14
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Zelbone is quite correct. Be aware that neither I, nor AFAIK, anyone has said that any of these examples actually had had a point cut off them, but that they were a variation on a style AS IF the point were "cut off" ie blunt (this was indeed sometimes done to "demilitarize"/etc. an existant sword). As you say, the slightly flared end is there, and not only that, but their length in relation to the curvature (more striking to my artist's eye, I guess) is the same; the curved tip (the part analagous to the actual cutting blade, rather than the "shaft" of a talibon) is just as long, and similarly curved, but just with a different end. One does, from time to time, especially with caribean/Southern N American machetes, and on small knives carried by soldiers and/or sailors (etc.) see both blades whose points have actually been cut/snapped for "safety", and "Safe point/cut point" ones that have been reground or otherwise reshaped to be thrustable. Also, be aware that a differently shaped point does have some different cutting capabilities. A wide tip is less vibratory, so more solid for cutting to the very tip, so in affect, for cutting, longer, and has been preferred by some workers and warriors for some purposes, and this is certainly a native concept that's been seen in SE Asian swords for a long time. I think we're seeing more the Spanish "blunted" idea here, but that's certainly an alternate line of thought that could have a lot of validity.
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Old 11th April 2005, 11:18 PM   #15
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I second the notion of wrapping wet, at least that is how Ive done simple rattan wraps in the past, and it worked fine. Heat can also make the rattan more pliant, but if the stuff is dry it can burn fast. Though heat is a good way to color raw rattan. Good catch.
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Old 16th April 2005, 03:46 AM   #16
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Here's another that's even newer appearing due to the riveted hardwood scales, while the sheath (which I've temporarily misplaced) is of nicely tooled heavy leather and has the "Visayan sash tab" frog(my invented term, sorry) to keep it from sliding through a belt or rope (my guess is 1950's).
At first glance, "machete" pops immediately to mind, while in truth it's nearly indestructible and is my favorite tool for clearing brush, splitting kindling or even felling small trees.
Likewise, the blade appears flat, but upon close examination is expertly constructed with a sideways distal taper(right word?) and even ONE SIDE ONLY almost imperceptably rounded so that it sharpens to and holds an unbelieveabley keen cutting edge that's slightly reminiscent of a chisel grind in addition to the characteristics of a normally tapered blade.
The blade also appears to have been intentionally "blackened" except for the hardened cutting edge in a fashion totally unfamiliar to me.
Where it meets the hilt the blade is 3/8" thick, becomes thinner from top to bottom at mid-point where it curves up slightly instead of having a fuller and weighs a hefty 1 3/4 lbs.
While it's definitely a tool, it's anything but cheap and effectively beheaded a 6 1/2' rattlesnake that waited until I was far too close to rattle, temporarily becoming a weapon of need while I was out cutting saplings for spear hafts.....hey, instinct is instinct.(**grin**)
Mike
ps...found the better photos, sorry
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Old 16th April 2005, 12:34 PM   #17
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Conogre, nice looking sword; I find especially interesting the way the "scales" are just barely longer than the tang and drawn together around its end; seems like a (very un-American, for instance) lack of concern with having the tang be "full" to the handle. I don't think it's quite the same type of sword, though it certainly bears a resemblance, and I'd call it, I guess, a matulis descendent; there's only the slightest nod to either the s-curve or the particular taper (as I described in one of these threads) of matulis; rather, despite a pretty vestigial seeming (?) clip to the spine, it seems to be more or less parrallel, edge-to-spine, and if anything, slightly swell-tipped, rather than the squared, but nevertheless narrowed tip we've been seeing. Yours is of a type; I've seen others; it seems like an evolution of matulis, and perhaps it is a matulis, but it's significantly different, of a significantly different style than any others we've discussed so far. The other "cut point" matulis we've seen still display the narrowing toward the tip that makes sense on a thrusting blade (of which it is a vestige, I think), while yours has "decided" (if you will) to take fuller advantage of the fact that it doesn't have a point to say "let's have a tip that's REALLY good for cutting, then; a widened one with mass and momentum, that will be less prone to excessive vibration that robs your cut of its force.). Is 3/8" a typo? It doesn't look that thick in the photos? I've been noticing those Visayan type belt tabs; Rick's one we saw the scabbard has one, and guess who else? One of my famous Mexican bolos!
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Old 16th April 2005, 01:14 PM   #18
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There is a sword in the P.I. called Espading. It has a square tip. Used for cutting sugar cane. Still trying to find what area they call them Espading.
Thats all....
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Old 16th April 2005, 01:20 PM   #19
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Thanks Shelley.

Seems that the word espading (appears to be an adjective) could be related to espada (meaning Spanish in some local dialects). Would this imply locals describing swords or knives that were originally Spanish in their eyes and adopted for local use?

Ian.
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Old 16th April 2005, 01:57 PM   #20
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Ian,
could be...
maybe it came from when the spanish prohibited points on the swords, and all swords were square tipped..
any sword from that era could be called espading?
i'll find out more about espading next week in negros. thats where i heard the word espading.
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Old 16th April 2005, 02:00 PM   #21
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Hmmmm Espada is Spanish for sword.
I once had a sword marked "en Toledo Espin".......Espania or Espagna or something (youse know I can't spell in English; what do you expect from Spanish?) is Spain in Spanish, no?
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Old 16th April 2005, 02:12 PM   #22
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Conogre, you know where else I've seen that blade like yours? You will once I tell you, if not; with a brass Bonifacio type guard and hoof handle. It's always cool to see traditional PI styles done with flat tangs; one of those occasional things, at least for me, that I enjoy; watching the interactions of influences......
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Old 16th April 2005, 08:27 PM   #23
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Hi Tom, and sorry, it's 3/16" thick (one of my last posts, while the eyes were crossing instead of the T's **grin**), just shy of 1/4", thick enough that there is NO blade vibration, thus my using it for many traditional axe chores.
A friend gifted me with that one, and being viewed with collecting eyes at the time I wasn't overly impressed while over time it's become a user favorite, prompting closer examination.......familiarity does not always breed contempt!**grin**
Yes, it does have a basic Bonifascio flavor, by the way.
A few months ago, while parrying with a friend I parried a bit too hard and snapped the blade of a Pakistani shortsword without so much as putting a nick in this one.....oooops!
We often look at our pieces strictly through historic eyes, accidently putting on blinders and looking down our noses at recent items, particularly those with ethnographic origins, which often seems paradoxical to me and I find it refreshing to see that there is still much more than meets the eye in regions that have been using blades for centuries.
Mike
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Old 17th April 2005, 07:12 PM   #24
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Well, it doesn't match the woven rattan, but a plain wrap beats cotton sash cord any day. I soaked it for about an hour before wrapping, which makes it very pliable. Shrinks up when dry and seems pretty tight and durable. Now I just need to find some narrow rattan, and learn to weave it.

Steve
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Old 17th April 2005, 07:29 PM   #25
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Old 18th April 2005, 01:16 AM   #26
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I have a sibling (perhaps and elder sibling) to your blade. The blade and hilt shapes are virtually identical although the ferrule on my blade appears to be slightly longer. The blade on my piece measures 12 1/8" long and the spine is 5/16" at the hilt. The octagonal faced hilt and ferrule measure 5 1/4" total (the ferrule is 1 3/16" long). The sheath measures 13 7/16" and each side is made out of a different wood. The cord keeper on the sheath is exactly similar to yours. Does anyone know the significance of the shape? For me the most significant thing about this humble bolo is that is fits my hand perfectly and the blade feels like like an extension of my arm. When I first picked it up I thought to myself wow, someone made a blade just for me before I was born.
Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 18th April 2005, 07:32 AM   #27
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This blade, with its swelled tip, is similar to the one Conogre showed us. Note that the pommel swells and faces forward, but lacks the truly hooked front of the threadstarter's.
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Old 21st April 2005, 06:24 AM   #28
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Sweet piece, RobT.
I love the way the scabbard is carved at the top, where it's usually pierced for insertion of a cord or such for carrying, into a stylized human face.
A much more traditional hilt that has the tang running up through it.....not at all humble, and I bet it handles wonderfully, half axe and half jungle knife while 100% weapon if the need arises/arose.
Is it just the light or is the blade slightly concave on the side facing out in the lower photo?
Mike
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Old 23rd April 2005, 02:55 PM   #29
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Just reading another thread where I saw that distinct handle on Zelbone's black handled one IDd as Ilongot tribe.
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Old 23rd April 2005, 03:29 PM   #30
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Hi Tom:

Can you be more specific in which thread you were reading about Ilongot knives.

In the picture above of Zel's black-handled knife, that is not a typical Ilongot knife IMHO. Although there is a superficial resemblance in the shape of the hilt, and some Ilongot knives have a cut point, the leather scabbard is completely wrong. Also, Ilongot knives have a blind tang hilt (which I cannot be sure of in this picture).

Ian.
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