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Old 31st October 2008, 10:52 AM   #1
Nonoy Tan
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Default Origin of the Kalinga Axe

Since Bill M. initiated the thread on the origins of the Kampilan, I wish to follow his lead and start this thread on the origins of the Kalinga (for lack of a better term) axe of Northern Luzon, Philippines.

Early German travellers to Luzon mentioned that these were made in certain towns which had the expert blacksmiths in the area. However, they did not say where these blacksmiths learned the form of such axes.

Some say that the axes had their origins from Dao axes of Burma/India. However, offer no proof or detailed explanation.

Here are photos of a variety of these axes.
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Old 31st October 2008, 04:33 PM   #2
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Hi Nonoy,

Thanks for those nice photos of the famous northern Philippine headhunters' battle-axes!

Those head-axes were actually my first love ... until I got seduced by the dark side ... and that's why I'm now into Moro swords.

For those unfamiliar with the northern Philippines, there is this mountain range there called the Cordilleras which is about the size of the state of New Jersey.

And said Cordillera region consists of the following provinces: Benguet, Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, and Ifugao. Baguio City is the most popular urban area inside the Cordilleras.

And the subject head-axes are found in the Cordillera region.

So Nonoy, don't you think it would be better to call said head-axe as the "Cordillera head-axe", given that it can be found not only in Kalinga but in the other provinces of the Cordilleras as well? Just a thought ...

From various early-1900s US publications, I was able to gather the pics below. The best resource I've found so far is Albert Jenks' The Bontoc Igorot (1905).

The head-axes coming from Bontoc province are the ones with the shorter axe head. The ones coming from Abra province [Balbelasan in particular] have longer handles, and larger and sleeker axe heads (the topmost pic below).

Best regards.
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Old 31st October 2008, 05:23 PM   #3
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Hello Nonoy,

As for the probable origin of the design of the "Cordillera head-axe" (if I may use that term), I'm not sure myself.

I'm now holding a copy of David Howard's The Last Filipino Head Hunters (2000).

It doesn't say anything though about the origins of the subject axe.

All it says is that the Cordillera natives (called "Igorot") must have come from the waves of migration coming from the Malayas and East Asia, thousands of years ago.

The book also says that it was perhaps in the 300 BC migration of Malays into the Philippines that a higher level of doing arts and crafts (including metalworks) came to be.

And one of the offshoots would be the enhancement of the famous rice terraces (photos attached), which for sure required the use of a lot of metal tools.
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Old 31st October 2008, 06:48 PM   #4
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JUST TO DROP IN ONE OF MY WILDER THOUGHTS!!

THERE IS ANOTHER ITEM MADE A LOT LIKE THE HEAD AX'S AND EITHER ITEM WITH SOME MODIFICATION WOULD WORK VERY WELL FOR HEAD TAKEING OR CLEANING AS WELL AS FOR OTHER JOBS.
THE BACK SPIKE IN BOTH CASES IS DRIVEN INTO THE GROUND OR A LOG OR SOMETHING SOFT ENOUGH THAT WILL HOLD THE BLADE FIRMLY SO YOU CAN WORK ON YOUR ITEM WITH THE SHARP EDGE.
THIS DESIGN WOULD BE EXCELLENT FOR HUSKING COCONUTS AND THERE ARE TOOLS FOR THAT JOB THAT HAVE A LOT IN COMMON WITH THE AX.

SO OFF WE GO INTO THE LAND OF CONJECTURE

PERHAPS A TRADER MADE UP SOME TOOLS TO TRADE TO THE LOCALS FOR USE IN PRODUCING COPRA FOR TRADE. THE LOCALS FOUND BY PUTTING A DIFFERENT, LONGER HANDLE ON THEM THEY COULD BE USED AS A WEAPON AND COULD WORK ON COCONUTS OR HEADS EQUALLY WELL. SO OF COURSE EVERYONE WANTED ONE AND TWO MARKETS FOR THEM WAS CREATED INSTEAD OF JUST THE ONE
AFTER ALL YOU CAN USE A SHARPENED STICK OR A ROCK FOR HUSKING COCONUTS SO PERHAPS A STEEL BLADE WAS WAY TOO COOL TO USE FOR THAT COMMON JOB SO A HIGHER USE WAS FOUND FOR THEM.

THATS MY STORY AND I'M STICKING TO IT

SOME SAY I HAVE A FERTILE IMAGINATION OTHERS SAY MY HEAD IS FULL OF S..T
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Old 31st October 2008, 11:44 PM   #5
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Related thread: Philippine axe
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Old 1st November 2008, 01:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VANDOO
SOME SAY I HAVE A FERTILE IMAGINATION OTHERS SAY MY HEAD IS FULL OF S..T

Hi Vandoo,

A false dilemma I must say. There may not necessarily be a conflict between the two. ... the latter actually has qualities related to fertility

That sir is a joke of course! I always enjoy reading your posts in fact; and I always learn and get encouraged from doing so. So thanks indeed for the comments above and elsewhere.

In all seriousness, I agree with your conjecture that things may have developed spontaneously.

After Nonoy started this topic, I again turned to Herbert Krieger's 1926 study of Philippine "primitive" weapons:
"No difference existed originally between implements and weapons. The digging stick is also the first weapon form. A heavy stick is also a club. A club with a knob becomes a still more effective weapon when sharpened to an edge on one of the surfaces, thus becoming an ax. Point and stick and it becomes a spear for combat at a distance. If the stick is short it becomes a dagger suitable for defensive and offensive use at close quarters. Flatten the stick and prolong its sharpened edge to full length of the stick and it becomes a sword. A short flat stick with sharpened lateral edge becomes a knife. If the stick with bulbous end is edged transversely to its longitudinal axis, the ax becomes a hoe. The stick which has acquired a knife-blade edge is also a useful household implement. The same quality of use applies to objects of stone and to the metals, such as copper and iron. Among primitive peoples sharp-edged iron knives used in the household, in hunting and in the handicrafts are also weapons of combat."

So Professor Vandoo, I think you are right on the money!
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Old 1st November 2008, 03:38 AM   #7
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I've seen where it was stated that the "prong" side was hacked into the ground & the ax side used for a cutting station.
The ritualistic taking of heads was varied between groups. What really controlled the population was never ending acts of retaliation. The kin of someone that lost their head would attempt to capture the head of the original head taker. If they couldn't find him, they would go after next of kin or anyone they could find in his clan.
Early American governors out-lawed the taking of heads & negotiated a series of "bodong" or peace pacts, that greatly reduced the taking of heads.
Tattooing was varied between the groups but was often a sign of a successful head taker. Since next of kin was wanted for revenge, the wife of a head taker would also have tattoos that could id her, if she became a victim.
If you look at early pictures, 1900-1930, you often see heavily tattooed men & quite a few head ax's. From the 1930's & on, both the tattooing & carrying of head ax's diminish.
Masferre's photo's (1934-56) in "People of Philippine Cordillera" pretty clearly shows this. Only one picture of a man with a head ax & he had just came back from a trip to another village. Also the 20 years of his pictures suggest the tattooing had decreased.
Not to say head taking had completely stopped in this time period but it certainly became infrequent.
I'm leaning the head ax was for taking of heads & most would pre-date 1940, with the exception of those that were specifically made to sell to GI's as souvenirs.
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Old 1st November 2008, 09:33 AM   #8
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To use "Cordillera Axe" as a generic term makes sense, without of course ignoring the more specific "Kalinga Axe" (which refers to those axes made by blacksmiths in Kalinga). The Ifugao, though, did not seem to traditionally use the axe in the past. On the other hand, Ifugao who have migrated to other regions in the Cordillera have adopted the axe.

The axe became less visible starting the early 1900s when the American colonial governement banned it. Still, the natives kept producing the axe but kept it as a tool at home. In its place, the bolo became more popular as tool that can be carried in public.

In the 19th century, the natives called it the "Aliwa" (refering to the axe with a crescent moon shape). Accounts of a German traveller during that time attribute "Aliwa" to a place where such an axe could be acquired.

I suspect that the "Kalinga" axe was created after metal forging was already introduced into the Cordillera regions by the Malays (directly or indirectly) and not before - as the spike of the axe would have been useful only if it was made of metal (not wood), especially when used as Vandoo suggested. Is it possible that the spike was a later feature of the axe? (developed when metal was available). Or maybe the axe is new - i.e. a creation made no earlier than the late 19th century.
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Old 1st November 2008, 09:51 AM   #9
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Going back to tracing it origins ....

The crescent moon-shaped axe appears to me in the shape of the hornbill, whose red beak is used by the Ilongot to represent excitement (as in headhunting forays). I wonder if there is any connection.

Unfortunately, accounts of early travellers in the Cordillera (which mention the axe) do not seem to go earlier than the late 19th century.

The origins of the Kalinga axe is puzzling.
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Old 1st November 2008, 12:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill
I've seen where it was stated that the "prong" side was hacked into the ground & the ax side used for a cutting station ...

Not to say head taking had completely stopped in this time period but it certainly became infrequent.

Hi Bill,

Yes, I've also read about the subject battle axe being used as an adze, using the technique you've just mentioned.

I also heard that the other (grisly) use of the spike is to pick up the fallen opponent's severed head.

I've also heard from Igorots that the spike is also used as a grappling tool when Igorots scale steep hillsides.

Finally, there are rumors that up to this day, there are still isolated cases of headhunting, to settle scores between feuding clans living deep in the highlands of the Cordilleras.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonoy Tan
... maybe the axe is new - i.e. a creation made no earlier than the late 19th century.

Hi Nonoy,

If the axe is new, then the question to my mind is what did the Igorot warriors use then for close quarters combat?

Given that the Igorots didn't develop a sword for the purpose, wouldn't it follow then that the battle axe was there all along, and it cannot be a recent creation by necessity?

They say that the ninja's primary weapon is really the bow and arrow. And the katana only comes in as a weapon of last resort, when things weren't resolved at farther distances.

For the Moros, it may be the same thing. The spear is the one used first, and the barong and the kris would come in only later.

The Igorots fight the same way. And some actually carry two spears: one is used as a missile, and the other is used for close combat. Or if the Igorot happened to carry just one spear (which may be more prevalent), then we can suppose that it will be the axe that will be used for close combat.

So wouldn't the axe of the Igorot be by necessity an ancient weapon also, given the said fighting style, and given further the practice of headhunting as their ultimate recreation?

On the latter point, we read this from Jenks' early-1900s study of the Igorots:
"His [the Bontoc male] social life is lowly, and before marriage is most primitive; but a man has only one wife, to whom he is usually faithful. The social group is decidedly democratic; there are no slaves [isn't this cool and a very advanced concept at the time?]. The people are neither drunkards, gamblers, nor 'sportsmen.' There is little 'color' in the life of the Igorot; he is not very inventive and seems to have little imagination [hey ...]. His chief recreation—certainly his most-enjoyed and highly prized recreation—is head-hunting."

[The words in brackets above are mine obviously. And I was also the one who supplied the underscoring.]

To my mind thus, given that the decapitation of the enemy's head is part and parcel of the Igorots' battlefield practice, and given further that the taking of heads is his chief leisure activity, by necessity the axe has to be as old as the Igorot society.

As to its origins, perhaps it's already staring us in the face.

The Cordillera axe for all we know must be the truly original ethnic Filipino weapon-and-tool!

Just my 2 cents

PS -

Historians say that the Igorot must have been the quintessential ethnic Filipinos, as they were the ones least influenced by colonizers, being the least accessible.

Thus once again, couldn't it be that the subject axe is indeed an ethnic Filipino original, a weapon and a tool that was shaped by the Igorots' way of life, without the influence of outsiders?

The plot thickens?

If I were a Phil. history student, I'd certainly like to make this as the subject of my dissertation.

Nonoy, with your connections to the Phil. museums and perhaps even the academe, maybe you'd like to suggest to them that more studies be made on the subject?
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Old 1st November 2008, 05:41 PM   #11
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What fantastic information, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I like this sort of info. The kind that blows away the cobwebs of collector lore. Especially the lore that the axe in the last picture post were only tools. Cearly they are tools for doing fatal harm to other humans. To my mind a good fighting quality axe is far more easy to make than a sword. In isolated areas along with the spear they would be the primary weapons rather like the Naga weapons.

How does that collector rubbish start?
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Old 1st November 2008, 06:32 PM   #12
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I AM SURE THERE WERE VARIOUS TYPES OF AX.S USED IN THE PHILIPPINES LONG BEFORE RECORDED HISTORY. CLUBS BEING ONE OF THE EARLIEST WEAPONS IN ALL SOCIETYS. AN AX IS A CLUB WITH SOMETHING ATTACHED WITH A SHARP EDGE, THE ADZ IS ANOTHER PREHISTORIC FORM FOUND IN MOST ALL PRIMATIVE SOCIETYS ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO DID WOOD WORK OR MADE CANOES.
I HAVE SEEN TURTLE AND OTHER MARINE ANIMAL BONES AND SPINES SET INTO VARIOUS FORMS OF CLUB AND SOME HAD ENOUGH OF AN EDGE TO QUALIFY AS AN AX. STONE HEADED AX'S WERE COMMON IN THE AMERICAS AS WELL AS MANY OTHER PLACES. I PERSONALLY CAN'T THINK OF ANOTHER WAR AX WITH THE BACK SPIKE DESIGNED TO STICK INTO THE GROUND OR A LOG. THE MOUNTANEERING CLIMBING OR ICE AX AND THE MINERS PICK COME TO MIND BUT BOTH ARE MORE PICK THAN AX.

MANY FORMS OF BATTLE AX AND MACE MAY HAVE HAD A SHARP SPIKE USED TO PENETRATE ARMOR BUT AS THEY DID NOT HAVE HEAVY METAL ARMOR IN LUZON AND THE HEAD AX IS WAY TOO LIGHT AND FLIMSY TO STRIKE A TELLING BLOW ANYWAY. I PERSONALLY WOULD PERFER TO FIGHT EQUIPED WITH.
1. SPEAR AND SHIELD
2. PRANG AND SHIELD
3. AX AND SPEAR
IN THAT ORDER.
THE AX MIGHT BE USEFUL TO HOOK A SHIELD ASIDE AND LEAVE AN OPENING FOR YOUR SPEAR THRUST BUT YOU WOULD EITHER NEED MORE THAN 2 HANDS OR HAVE TO DO WITHOUT A SHIELD.
PERHAPS A STUDY HAS BEEN DONE ON HUMAN REMAINS FROM THE HEADHUNTING DAYS IF SO IT SHOULD BE EASY TO IDENTIFY HOLES IN THE BONES MADE BY SUCH A BLADE OR BACK SPIKE. IF THEY ARE PRESENT IN LARGE NUMBERS AND HAVE STRUCK WITH GREAT FORCE IT WOULD INDICATE THEY WERE A PRIMARY WEAPON. IF NOT FOUND OR FOUND VERY RARELY OR ALWAYS IN THE SAME SPOTS, I WOULD SAY IT WAS A MORE RICTUALISTIC TOOL THAN WEAPON.
PERHAPS IT WAS CARRIED TO WAR AS A TAILSMAN AND TO SHOW YOUR STATUS AS ONE WHO HAD TAKEN HEADS AND WAS MOSTLY USED TO PERFORM SOME RITUALS IN PREPARING THE HEAD.
WE WILL PROBABLY NEVER KNOW WHAT IT EVOLVED FROM OR WHERE IT WAS DESIGNED ,UNLESS SOME ARCHEOLOGIST OR HISTORICAL INVESTIGATOR EITHER FINDS A PATENT FOR A ACME COCONUT HUSKING TOOL FROM THE 1800'S OR A BOX OF THEM AT A FLEA MARKET. OR PERHAPS SOME DRAWINGS FROM THE UNKNOWN LEONARDO OF THE PHILIPPINES SHOWING HIS DESIGNS FOR ONE.
IT SHOULD BE POSSIBLE TO FIND OUT IF IT WAS A PRIMARY WEAPON THRU HISTORIC RECORDS AND ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDIES. (HAS ANYONE READ ANY ACTUAL ACCOUNTS OF THEM BEING USED IN BATTLE?) I AM SURE AN OBSERVER FROM ANOTHER AREA WOULD HAVE MADE A NOTE ON IT SOMEWHERE IF IT WAS ACTUALLY OBSERVED.

PERHAPS OUR MEMBERS IN THE PHILIPPINES CAN PRINT SOME OF THESE QUESTIONS OUT AND TAKE THEM TO THE MUSEUMS , UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS OR ARCHEOLOGISTS AND SEE IF THEY HAVE THE ANSWERS. IF THEY DO NOT, PERHAPS IT WILL INTEREST THEM ENOUGH TO DO THE STUDIES.

THE HEAD AX IN ITS FINAL FORM WAS NOT A JUST A TOOL BUT IT STILL COULD HAVE EVOLVED FROM ONE. WHO IS TO SAY THE CLUB OR SPEAR DID NOT EVOLVE FROM A DIGGING STICK.
MANKIND COMES UP WITH A USE FOR SOMETHING AND THEN FINDS OTHER USES FOR THE PRINCIPLE AND ADAPTS IT SO IT CAN BE USED IN MANY OTHER WAYS.
THE IDEA FIRST THEN THE TOOL OR WEAPON AND THEN ADAPTATION FROM WEAPON TO TOOL OR TOOL TO WEAPON AND SO ON.

YOU CAN BRING AN OBJECT THAT HAS A SPECIFIC USE IN YOUR SOCIETY AND PLAN TO INTRODUCE IT TO ANOTHER SOCIETY AS A MORE EFFECIENT TOOL FOR ONE SPECIFIC JOB OF YOUR CHOOSING. ONLY TO FIND THEY HAVE DECIDED IT IS MORE USEFUL FOR SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THAN YOU PLANNED.
JUST CONJECTURE WITH A BIT OF LOGIC THROWN IN HERE AND THERE. BUT PERHAPS THE THOUGHTS MAY INTREST THOSE IN THE FIELDS THAT CAN FIND THE ANSWERS OR PERHAPS THEY WILL JUST SAY NONSENSE !! WE WILL BE SATISFIED WITH WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED FOREVER.

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Old 2nd November 2008, 06:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonoy Tan
Unfortunately, accounts of early travellers in the Cordillera (which mention the axe) do not seem to go earlier than the late 19th century.

Hi Nonoy,

I have good news for you.

In William Henry Scott's Barangay: Sixteenth-century Philippine Culture and Society (1994), we read of this early account of the head axe:
"They [the Ibanags of Cagayan, an area right beside the Cordilleras] carried shield large enough to cover the whole body, and went to battle clad only in G-strings, with bodies well oiled in case of hand-to-hand grappling (although quilted armor was known upstream in Gaddang territory -- that is, modern Isabela). Their weapons were leaf-shaped daggers 20 to 30 centimeters long (inalag), spears (suppil if plain, saffuring if barbed), and one which in modern times would be called the head ax -- bunang, 'machete of the natives,' Father Bugarin (1676, 80) said, 'like a crescent moon with a long point.' Unlike the inalag, the bunang cannot be put in a scabbard (alag)."

Looks to me that this is the Cordillera axe we are tracing, and it is going farther and farther back into the past

[Vandoo, I'm still ruminating on those fine points you made in your last post. Thanks for sharing those.]

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Old 2nd November 2008, 07:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
What fantastic information, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I like this sort of info ...

Hi Tim,

We will all see where this whodunnit story will finally lead us to

Regards.
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Old 3rd November 2008, 06:51 AM   #15
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Thank you for all that enlightening information!

I also did a bit of research this weekend and came up with the following:


1. An 1876 painting by P. Benigno Fernandez show a man with a head-axe (image herewith).

2. The Charles Wilkes Expedition of 1838-1842 gathered thousands of specimens from several countries, which included several “head axes” from the Luzon Cordillera, Philippines. They are currently stored at the US National Museum (Smithsonian Institution).

3. “Informe sabre el Estado de las Islas Filipinas en 1842” written by Sinibaldo de Mas mentions the “Aliua” – the term which appears in Spanish records to refer to the head-axe (also sometimes “Aliwa” or “Ligua”).

4. “Vingt annees aux Philippines” (1853) by Paul P. de la Gironiere, illustrates the head-axe.

5. An English transation of “Noticias de los Infieles Igorrotes en lo interior de la Isla de Manila” (an 1789 manuscript by Francisco Antolin) mentions the axe. I have not read the original text, however. Thus, this evidence needs confirmation when I have verified the translation.
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Old 4th November 2008, 10:43 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VANDOO
JUST CONJECTURE WITH A BIT OF LOGIC THROWN IN HERE AND THERE. BUT PERHAPS THE THOUGHTS MAY INTREST THOSE IN THE FIELDS THAT CAN FIND THE ANSWERS OR PERHAPS THEY WILL JUST SAY NONSENSE !! WE WILL BE SATISFIED WITH WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED FOREVER.

Hi Vandoo,

Those were a lot of fine points you raised and I'm sure it sent most of us thinking even more deeply into the subject.

And yes, I do hope that those who'll be doing formal research will stumble upon this thread.

With regard to the specifics you mentioned, just some quick comments:

[1] indeed forensic science a la CSI can be used to investigate the headless skeletons and mummies, to find clues on whether the axe was the one used in decapitation (as well as whether the other injury marks were axe-inflicted); and

[2] on previous studies done by universities, I will be able to get a copy this Friday of a masteral thesis on "Bontok [Cordillera] warfare", from a local university; we'll find out if there'd be additional insights we can get from that paper.

Best regards

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Old 4th November 2008, 11:27 AM   #17
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A few points:

1. In fact, the axe was used to decapitate. So many evidence of that.
2. Not all Cordillerans traditionally use the axe for decapitation. Some use the bolo.
3. The Cordillera people are classified into different groups, and each may have different way of going about headhunting. Some keep the skulls and display them at the village, some bury them, some throw them away. Differences can be seen between the Ifugao, Applai, I-lagod, Bontoc, Kankaney, Ilongot, Gaddang, I'wak, Ibaloi, Kalinga, Isneg, Itneg, etc. It is difficult to generalize - differences between adjacent villages within the same "tribe" exists too. It is not easy studying the Cordillera peoples because there are so many groups - not to mention the Agta who also practiced headhunting in the past. Well, so did the Zambals, Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Visayans and almost everyone in the Philippines!

I think that there has been an over-emphasis on headhunting attributed to the Cordillerans (because of past writings by Americans in the 1900s) without including the rest of the Philippines. The key to understanding the headhunting ways of the Cordillerans (in its original form) is by knowing how the rest of the country's inhabitants practiced it. My 2 cents.
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Old 4th November 2008, 11:53 AM   #18
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Here are two interesting examples, both originating from the Cordillera area:

1. The specimen is an axe with a stone axe head. Handle is hardwood. Heavy. More likely a club than a cutting blade or axe.

2. Looks like a Panabas from Mindanao, but actually from northeastern luzon.
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Old 4th November 2008, 12:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonoy Tan
It is not easy studying the Cordillera peoples because there are so many groups ...

Hi Nonoy,

I agree. And I also agree that it appears that not all Cordillerans practiced headhunting, or were warlike.

I've just finished browsing the book Ethnography of the Major Ethnolinguistic Groups of the Cordillera (2003). The book is described by the publisher as "a compilation of what is already known about the various groups as described by historians, anthropologists, missionaries, and travelers who recorded the early life of these groups of people collectively called Igorots".

We can see in the summary below that there are groups in which weapons were not observed to play a major role in that group's sub-culture:

A. The Bontoks

Weapons: battle axe (pin-nang/ pinangas); knife and spears (falfeg, fangkao, sinalawitan), and shield (kalasag)

B. The Ibaloys

Weapons: spear (kayang); shield (kalasag), bow and arrow (bekang and pana), and the war club (papa) [Scheer 1905:153]

They use axes (guwasay) but it is a tool and not a weapon.

C. The Ikalahans

Weapons: none mentioned

[Although] "Every adult male carries a backpack called akbot, made of deer hide. A bolo with a wooden scabbard [pinahig?] strapped to the waist is an indispensable equipment of the men. They never leave the house without it. It is about one and a half to two feet long, and held by a belt (balkah) made of finely woven rattan ...."

D. The Ifugaos

Weapons: none mentioned

E. The Isnegs

"The single most important tool of the Isneg man is the bolo (badang). This is a large, single-bladed knife used to cut firewood, fell trees, clear brush, and kill animals (Keyes in Reynolds and Grant 1973:26). In the olden days, the bolo was also used in warfare. Another important tool is the aliwa, a thin-bladed axe with the back drawn out. This is used for all cutting purposes. The women also have an all-purpose tool called the iko, a small hatchet used in harvesting play and carried by the women in their headdress."

F. The Kalingas

"The name Kalinga is believed to have come from the Ibanag "kali-nga" and the Gaddang "kalinga" which both mean headhunters, hence, the Kalinga people must have acquired their name because of their tradition of head taking and tribal war."

Weapons: head axe (sinawit), bolo (gaman/ badang), and spears (balbog/ tubay/ say-ang); the shield (kalasag) is made from light but sturdy wood, the sablang tree.

G. The Northern Kankana-eys

Weapons: bolo (gamig), axe (wasay), and spear (balbeg);

the axe is further classified into three types -- the pinagada, the pannakot, and the gaman;

the first two are tools, and the gaman was the type used for headhunting ("consists of an iron ring that holds the axe head in place, and an iron band at the end of the handle").

H. The Southern Kankana-eys

Weapons: none mentioned

I. The Tingguians/ Itnegs

Weapons: lance or spear (pika), shield (kalasag), head axe (aliwa or gaman), small bamboo spikes (soga), blow gun (salbatana), and bamboo spear (sinolbong);

the shield used is similar in form to that of the Bontoks and Kalingas.

The MAP below will give us an idea of the distribution of these groups within the Cordillera.

In the map, Manila will be about 2.5 squares below where "17" is printed. And the Cordillera has its own zoomed-in map, found on the upper right-hand corner.
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Old 4th November 2008, 12:19 PM   #20
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What excellent map and illustration of the complexity we are dealing here

Thank you for citing the 1676 citing of the axe, too! I can imagine now the possibility that the crescent-shaped head axe may not be Cordilleran afterall, but Ibanag! I hope we can get a collaborative source through diligent research.

Let me add to the absence of representation of the Ifugao on the "Ethnolinguistic ..." book

Ifugao:

Spear or "pahul" which can take the form of a "balabog", "kinango", "gayang", "ludit"; "hinolgat" (war spear)

Also uses the shield (2 types); ax (as a tool); bolo (2 types - "Pinahig" and "Hinalung"); bow and arrow (as an early weapon which became "extinct"); and lasso
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Old 4th November 2008, 03:15 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonoy Tan
Here are two interesting examples, both originating from the Cordillera area:

1. The specimen is an axe with a stone axe head. Handle is hardwood. Heavy. More likely a club than a cutting blade or axe.

Interesting axe design.

On a related matter, I saw the axe below in a Manila antique shop. Would anybody recognize this shape and as to where this may have come from?

To me the axe below is like those Crocs sandals -- "It's so ugly it's cute."

Hope somebody can comment on the pic below. Thanks in advance!

Note: It's the lighting and the mode of the camera that made everything appear yellowish. In reality, the wooden handle is really wooden in color, and the metal axe-head is dark colored as it is covered all over with inactive rust.
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Old 4th November 2008, 03:20 PM   #22
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It is an Ifugao adze used to work on wood, not a weapon.
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Old 4th November 2008, 11:19 PM   #23
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Nonoy, thanks for the info on the Ifugao adze (and for the painting, too).

Back to the question on the probable age of the design of the Cordillera axe, perhaps one way to find the answer is to estimate the age of the shield's design.

For the two seem to function hand in hand:
"The Tinggian, Kalinga, and other northern tribes use the shield in combat at close quarters. The three upper prong projections are brought down violently against the enemy's legs so that he is tripped; when he is prostrate, the other or looser shield end with the two projecting prongs is brought down over his neck. The victim can then be effectively decapitated with the head ax that the head-hunter always carries with him." [Krieger 1926 96]

"With these tribes [Tinggian and Kalinga], it [the shield] is fashioned into three long prongs and two below... It has even an offensive purpose. In combat, the endeavor is often made to suddenly thrust the three prongs of the upper end against the opponent's legs and with a quick twist trip him up. As soon as he falls, the two prongs at the opposite end are jammed over his neck, pinning his head to the ground and allowing his easy decapitation." [Dean C. Worcester 1913, in National Geographic Society: 'The non-christian peoples of the Philippine Islands']."

Given that the victim can still be alive when the decapitation is made, the beheading has to be swift.

And a swift strike of the head axe will neatly do the job.

The samurai also used a shorter blade (wakizashi) when decapitating his fallen foe. The longer katana would have been impractical for the purpose.

Thus for me the institution of head-hunting means that just like the Cordillera shield, a short blade like the Cordillera axe must have been a very old design, given that the two appear to be two sides of the same coin.

PS - Per Krieger, the Igorot shield just like the Moro shield, has space on the hand-grab just for three fingers. The thumb and the pinky are made to rest outside the slot, to dexterously angle the shield when parrying a blow.
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Old 5th November 2008, 12:08 AM   #24
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Great thread Gentlemen !
Surely destined for the Classics .
Press on !
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Old 5th November 2008, 02:37 AM   #25
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I HAVE READ THOSE ACCOUNTS OF HOW THE SHIELD WAS USED, IT COULD BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE. BUT YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO TRY IT IF YOUR OPPONENT WAS STILL AWAKE AND ARMED AS YOU WOULD EXPOSE YOURSELF TO AN ATTACK WHICH YOU COULD NOT AVOID OR BLOCK. IF YOU WERE IN FRONT OF THE FELLOW USING THE SHIELD TO PIN DOWN HIS NECK IT WOULD BE SOMEWHAT AWKWARD TO STRIKE OFF HIS HEAD QUICKLY.
IT WOULD WORK WELL ON A FOE WHO WAS UNCONCIOUS ,DEAD OR UNARMED AND VERY WEAK, BUT YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE VERY AGILE AND QUICK TO USE THAT METHOD ON A STRONG STRUGGLING FOE EVEN IF HE WAS NOT ARMED.
ANOTHER THING THAT IS PUZZELING IN THE LAST TWO PICTURES THE THREE PRONGS ARE AT THE TOP AND IF THE 3 ARE TO BE USED TO TRIP UP YOUR OPPONENT THEY SHOULD BE AT THE BOTTOM. THEY COULD BE POSED PICTURES BUT EVEN THEN I SUSPECT A WARRIOR WOULD NOT HOLD HIS SHIELD UPSIDE DOWN, IT WOULD MAKE AS MUCH SENSE TO HOLD HIS SPEAR OR AX BACKWARDS.
I HAVE READ SOMEWHERE THAT THE SHAPE OF THE SHIELD REPRESENTS THE HUMAN FORM THE TWO PROTRUSIONS BEING THE LEGS AND THE THREE UPPER BEING THE TWO ARMS AND THE HEAD IN THE MIDDLE. IF THIS IS THE CASE THEN THE SHIELD WOULD BE HELD IN THE MANNER SHOWN IN THE PICTURES. YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO GO INTO BATTLE WITH YOUR SHEILD STANDING ON ITS HEAD.
THE SIMPLE SHAPED SHIELD LOOKS LIKE THOSE USED BY THE DAYAKS OF BORNEO AMONG OTHERS.

I SUSPECT THAT AMBUSHES AND BATTLES STARTED WITH A UNIFORM CHARGE THAT QUICKLY TURNED INTO A MELE AND WHEN YOU DOWNED A MAN YOU TURNED ON ANOTHER OR HELPED ANOTHER OF YOUR TRIBESMEN. THE LOSEING SIDE WOULD CUT AND RUN LEAVING THE WINNERS TO COLLECT HEADS AT LEISURE AND SEE TO THEIR DEAD AND WOUNDED.
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Old 5th November 2008, 08:23 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VANDOO
... THE LAST TWO PICTURES THE THREE PRONGS ARE AT THE TOP AND IF THE 3 ARE TO BE USED TO TRIP UP YOUR OPPONENT THEY SHOULD BE AT THE BOTTOM.

Hi Vandoo,

Then perhaps that's the reason why the logo of the Phil. National Police had the shield rotated 180 degrees (image attached).

(By the way, the said logo adopted the silhouette of Lapu Lapu with a kampilan as the central image.)

On how Igorot battles are conducted, this account from Jenks' The Bontoc Igorot (1905) is very close to what you just described:
"Men go to war armed with a wooden shield, a steel battle-ax, and one to three steel or wooden spears. It is a man’s agility and skill in keeping his shield between himself and the enemy that preserves his life. Their battles are full of quick, incessant springing motion. There are sudden rushes and retreats, sneaking flank movements to cut an enemy off. The body is always in hand, always in motion, that it may respond instantly to every necessity. Spears are thrown with greatest accuracy and fatality up to 30 feet, and after the spears are discharged the contest, if continued, is at arms’ length with the battle-axes. In such warfare no attitude or position can safely be maintained except for the shortest possible time.

"Challenges and bluffs are sung out from either side, and these bluffs are usually 'called.' In the last Bontoc-Tulubin foray a fine, strapping Tulubin warrior sung out that he wanted to fight ten men—he was taken at his word so suddenly that his head was a Bontoc prize before his friends could rally to assist him.

xxx

"Rocks are often thrown in battle, and not infrequently a man’s leg is broken or he is knocked senseless by a rock, whereupon he loses his head to the enemy, unless immediately assisted by his friends.

"There is little formality about the head taking. Most heads are cut off with the battle-ax before the wounded man is dead. Not infrequently two or more men have thrown their spears into a man who is disabled. If among the number there is one who has never taken a head, he will generally be allowed to cut this one from the body, and thus be entitled to a head taker’s distinct tattoo. However, the head belongs to the man who threw the first disabling spear, and it finds its resting place in his ato. If there is time, men of other ato may cut off the man’s hands and feet to be displayed in their ato. Sometimes succeeding sections of the arms and legs are cut and taken away, so only the trunk is left on the field.

"Frequently a battle ends when a single head is taken by either side—the victors calling out, 'Now you go home, and we will go home; and if you want to fight some other day, all right!' In this way battles are ended in an hour or so, and often in half an hour. However, they have battles lasting half a day, and ten or a dozen heads are taken.

"Seven pueblos of the lower Quiangan region went against the scattered groups of dwellings in the Banawi area of the upper Quiangan region in May, 1902. The invaders had seven guns, but the people of Banawi had more than sixty—a fact the invaders did not know until too late. However, they did not retire until they had lost a hundred and fifty heads. They annihilated one of the groups of the enemy, getting about fifty heads, and burned down the dwellings. This is by far the fiercest Igorot battle of which there is any memory, and its ferocity is largely due to firearms."

Jenks in his book was silent on the use of the shield to trip an opponent.

On the use of rocks as impromptu weapon, Pigafetta also noted this in the Battle of Mactan:
"On that account, he [Magellan] ordered us to retire slowly, but the men took to flight, except six or eight of us who remained with the captain. The natives shot only at our legs, for the latter were bare; and so many were the spears and stones that they hurled at us, that we could offer no resistance."

Which made me think just now that perhaps I can start selling "ethnic Philippine battle rocks" in the Swap Forum?!

Now on how to establish provenance ... [think, think]
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Old 5th November 2008, 09:06 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonoy Tan
2. Looks like a Panabas from Mindanao, but actually from northeastern luzon [Cordillera area].

Hello Nonoy,

When I visited the museum of the Phil. national hero, Padre Burgos, in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, they also have on display several Cordillera weapons:

[1] a similarly shaped scythe, that also looks like the Moro panabas;

[2] a bolo called buneng, which is reminiscent of the Moro barong;

[3] the Balbelasan (Abra) battle axe; and

[4] a couple of spears and shields.

For info of our friends, Ilocos Sur is right beside Abra, and Abra is part of the Cordillera.

So from north to south of the Phils., the ethnic blades tend to be similar. Except for the Cordillera axe, that is, which really seems to be a class of its own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Great thread Gentlemen !
Surely destined for the Classics .
Press on !

Do we get a discount coupon in the Swap Forum if we make it?

Thanks for the comment, Rick!
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Old 5th November 2008, 11:20 AM   #28
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Tracing the origins of these weapons is something that will definitely require a lot of research. The Kaling axe, like the "Kalinga Shield" both appear to be “unique.” Yes, you have an important point that may provide with with a good lead. We may have to trace the origins of both simultaneously.

Being able to discover the possibility of an Ibanag origin is exciting. It is known historically that while the western coast of Luzon (i.e. Ilocos provinces) was a thriving place for international trade, so did the eastern Luzon coast (Cagayan, etc. where the Ibanags are found). Unfortunately, the western coast has been empahized more in popular books, and not too many know about the eastern provinces. There are lots of archaeological evidences from Eastern Luzon what we may have to check, as they are often overlooked. We may be able to get some information from the University of the Philippines archaeological society.

I think that we also need collaborative evidence in the form of documentation, on the Ibanag's use of the crescent-shaped axe. I think that the the University of Santo Tomas in Manila is the best place to get it, as it holds the biggest and oldest collection of Spanish records made in the Philippines. If we want a short-cut, we can try to contact Fr. Pedro V. Salgado (a Domican priest) in the Philippines. He has gone through those documents that relate to the Ibanags and the eastern luzon provinces. Indispensable too, I think, would be a check on "The Philippine Islands" by Blair and Robertson, containing translated Spanish documents. It is rather voluminous (55 volumes) but one of the best there is.

We may have to also look into the original text of the region's oral history and songs. We will probably need to gather whatever has been written on this, including vocabulary. The Summer Institute of Linguistics (with an office in Manila) may be a good source of information.

If we are able to develop an effective methodology of research, I suspect that the same process can also help us trace the origins of other Philippine weapons.

Lots of work ahead. Shall we commence? :-)

Nonoy
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Old 5th November 2008, 03:09 PM   #29
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Vandoo,

I find your observations to be very important.

I suspect that there may have been a proliferation of certain myths regarding the use of the Kalinga shield and the significance of its form. It is possible that some of these may have come from accounts of soldiers or government officials during the American colonial rule - who probably have never even personally seen the natives use the shield in such close combat at described. Sometimes, I doubt the source of their information. I could be wrong though.
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Old 5th November 2008, 10:48 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonoy Tan
... Indispensable too, I think, would be a check on "The Philippine Islands" by Blair and Robertson, containing translated Spanish documents. It is rather voluminous (55 volumes) but one of the best there is.

We may have to also look into the original text of the region's oral history and songs. We will probably need to gather whatever has been written on this, including vocabulary. The Summer Institute of Linguistics (with an office in Manila) may be a good source of information.

If we are able to develop an effective methodology of research, I suspect that the same process can also help us trace the origins of other Philippine weapons.

Lots of work ahead. Shall we commence? :-)

Nonoy,

The journey appears long so I think we have to begin as soon as possible

Like you said, let's develop first the research framework, and with the 'road map' in hand we should have less hits-and-misses.

Thanks by the way for mentioning the leads. On Blair and Robertson's 55-volume work, I ordered The Philippines CD which has that among many other titles. Of course the beauty of having those works in digital form is that the we can easily search for keywords.

On the compilation of Phil. myths, epics, legends, fables, etc., the University of the Philippines Press has just published a multi-volume series on that. I saw a set in one bookstore here in Manila. I think I should already get those as it may be the last set.

What would be our next step you think? Can you do the first-pass research methodology draft, and then from there we toss it back and forth until we come up with the final draft?

In parallel, I'll keep on compiling materials for our future reference.

Exciting times indeed

PS - And yes, the 'bonus' is that the framework if we are successful can also be applied in tracing the roots of Visayan sandatas, Moro weapons, etc.
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