Ethnographic Arms & Armour

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 19th June 2024, 02:24 AM   #31
xasterix's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 605

Originally Posted by Gustav View Post
Just a couple of facts to regain some attachment to reality:

I have looked into Spanish museums for some time now. Until now I haven't found any Kris from Phillipines in their collections that would predate 1800.

There, as Alan has pointed out many times, is a Kris, which probably everybody nowadays would call an "archaic" Moro Kris in its pure form. It comes from Brunei and was made in 1842.


We have two tendencies. The first one I would call academic, it works with available dates, and treats these dates as facts. Everything else ranges between hypothesis and speculation.

The second is amateurs approach and is based on speculations going beyond the available dates.

The possible truth often enough is situated somewhere between these viewpoints in my opinion.


What I personally see in the Kris from this thread is an old blade with very possibly reworked fretwork (Greneng in Javanese Terminology), conservatively datable from first half of 19th cent., in a dress from the turn of 19th/20th centuries.
I would beg to differ on the "amateurs approach." There are some of us who work within the academe, and who would only make statements grounded in fact or formal theory.

1. To note, there exists pre-1800 documentation of krises encountered in the PH in terms of local and foreign sources (Spanish friars, Dutch accounts, plus that captain who visited PH pre-1700s, I'll have to re-check my references).

2. There's also a book, with APA entry [SOLHEIM II, W. G. (1960). The Philippine Iron Age. The University of Arizona] which has a kris artifact found in Bohol area I think, dated 12th-15th century, I'm attaching the plate. Of course, we don't have any clue as to how it was dressed, if it was PH-origin; but the fact that it was found in PH soil points that kris was already being circulated in that time period.

3. Then there are also Moro elders' accounts, oral traditions, even myths and legends which trace krises back to pre-colonial times. These are valid sources under formal anthropological framework.

To summarize: there's no doubt that krises were already circulating in the Philippines pre-1800, pre-1700, even pre-colonial. In documentation it's clear that these were found in Southern (Moro) areas; in archaeological evidence at least, one is found in Visayas area (Bohol), which is not too far from Moro areas.
Attached Images
xasterix is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th June 2024, 08:44 AM   #32
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,215


I didn't adress anything you wrote about in your previous post.

What I did address is the wildly speculative attempt to set back in timeline a 20 inches long blade for about two hundred years - and the sentence "The pre-1800 designation comes from Cato following his study of museum pieces (including Spanish examples), plus statements he obtained from Moro informants."

Oncemore - after looking into the subject for some time I am not aware of any Kris in Spanish museum collections with documented provenance that would pre-date 1800, and I very much doubt we can find kris with such provenance in PH.
Gustav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th June 2024, 06:58 PM   #33
Vikingsword Staff
Ian's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Posts: 4,108


Thank you for your spirited comments. I take no offense from your description of "wildly speculative" and "amateurish attempts" to push back the dating of this kris. In fact, I fully expected to receive responses such as yours from several people. As a retired academic I understand your frustration with what I wrote above. However, as a longstanding visitor to the Philippines and collector of PH weapons, I am no less frustrated by statements from those outside the local cultures who wish to label so many older examples as 19th C when those indigenous cultures report that much older examples existed.

With respect to museum specimens, the apparent absence of provenanced pieces pre-1800 might be traced to the way many museums document their acquisitions. They can usually date when the item entered the museum's inventory, but there is no further information about the possible age of the item before its acquisition by the museum. As a result, the formal age of such items is dated from the when it was acquired. To try to gauge how old these items may actually be, it is necessary to speak with museum staff, and this is what Cato says he did. Museums also have far more items than are displayed. Simply looking at what is on display can be very misleading with regard to the breadth of the collection, and what is displayed over time can vary. What a curator chooses to display may be based as much on the condition of the item or its artistic merit as on the desire to display an historical perspective.

Thus, I believe your statement regarding no provenanced kris pre-1800 in Spanish museums is misleading. There may well be, and likely are, pre-1800 examples in those museums that are simply not described as such in museum documents or placed on display. I have not visited Spanish museums nor contacted staff at those museums to address pre-1800 kris in their collections. Perhaps you have. Cato says he did, and I give his efforts some credence.

Mr. Cato has not defended the criticisms of his work. I can understand that. Why get into acrimonious debate? He put his ideas and findings out there, and we can make of them what we wish. One should not decry his efforts for doing so. A lot of work went into his book and it is thought provoking.

My approach in presenting this kris for discussion has been to take a controversial position and to stimulate discussion of the age of an old kris example. I am perfectly willing to be proven wrong. However, I know of no firm data that would contradict what I have said here.

Xasterix has provided some of the (very limited) data available on old kris. In the plate he has posted of archeological findings, there is an example (j) that resembles a keris buda.


Ian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th June 2024, 09:13 PM   #34
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,215


thank you for your well tempered response - what you say in this last post resonates with me, because my viewpoint on Keris in early european collections is similar - the earliest firm provenance for a certain specimen is from 1607, but there are blades, which could be considerably older (there are records of early collections starting with 1512) and possibly from the late Majapahit period. Saying that was and perhaps still is regarded as some kind of blasphemy.

As I wrote, I simply don't see all this in the Kris blade of this thread, and I won't repeat it oncemore.

Regarding "inoficial" information about objects in museums, even very good ones - I must say, that the curators always (in my experience) have only the information which is found in their database (sometimes with significant errors) and not a iota more.

Regarding the artifact from Bohol and its relationship to Keris, we have been through that already, here a quite good thread about it:

Gustav is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 10:00 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.