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Thread: Luzon (Philippines) blades

  1. #1
    Knows the secret handshake Eskrimador's Avatar

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    Default Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Here are some blades from Luzon:

    These are from Bicol in Southern Luzon.


    This is the Bicolano version of the ginunting. As you can see, it is very different in shape to the ginuntings of Negros and Panay. This is primarily an agricultural blade while those of the visayas are primarily for fighting.

    There is a preference to keep "agricultural" blades unpolished to save the few microns of blade thickness that would be lost to buffing. They are also less expensive that way.



    Here's a "baby" Bicolano ginunting with a shorter blade.



    This one is called the "Sinampaloc". Sampaloc is the tagalog word for tamarind. It is so-named because the blade is similar in shape to a tamarind fruit. This is great for chopping coconuts.



    And here's a "baby" version.




    I forget the name for these blades, but they have a better pedigree than the preceding models. The brass guards, thinner polished blades, and lively balance make them more useful for martial applications.





    The tangs on most Luzon blades go all the way through the handle, and are peened over a washer at the pommel. That gives a more solid attachment than Visayan products where the tang only goes part way into to handle and is held in place by friction and glue.


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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Moving north from Bicol (still in Luzon) we come to Quezon province.

    Here is one of the more famous blades on Quezon, the "Dahon Palay" which literally means "rice leaf" after which the blade takes its shape. This has a leather sheath with its own belt.

    This has very good balance and would work well as a fighting blade, though its use is primarily agricultural. Handle is of carabao horn.





    The pommel is nicer than the ones on the Bicolano bolos.


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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Thanks for sharing! I've never been to Bicol, although I have been as far north as Baguio. Interestingly, I have a pinuti like blade from Loay, Bohol that looks a lot like the ones from Bicol. I'll post pics up when I get a chance.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Just north of Quezon is the province of Batangas, famous for their balisong knives. The smiths who make balisongs also make larger blades like the following:

    This is a Batangas bolo generally called a "tabak", "itak" or "gulok". It has a thick heavy blade, brass guard, and a carabao horn handle. Sheath is made of synthetic leather lined with thick plastic.

    Before buying a bolo like this, have the seller test it on a 1/4-in diameter iron nail. The bolo should chop the nail in half without any damage to the blade.

    I don't like them too much as I find them too heavy.



    Here's a field knife version. Test it on smaller nails.


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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    From Batangas we go further north through Manila and on to Zambales. Zambales is known for its jungles and the aeta tribesmen who are experts in using bolos for jungle survival. (Aeta tribesmen used to train US military personnel at Subic Bay Naval Base on jungle survival).

    It so-happens that I have a friend based in Zambales, and he gave me these two jungle bolos that he ordered from the smith who makes them for the Aeta. Of the Luzon bolos that I own, only these pieces feature full-tang blades. They are very sharp too.

    These would be my hands-down choices if I had to survive in the jungle.

    This one has the traditional carabao horn handle


    This one is a version with a rubber handle made from a truck tire.


    Carabao horn is favored as a handle material because it is tough and gives a non-slip grip when left unpolished. Also, powdered carabao horn is good at stopping bleeding. Just shave a few slivers from your bolo handle and apply them to cuts.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    North of Zambales is Pangasinan where this bolo came from. It is their version of the "baby sinampaloc" but with a fancier handle of cast aluminum and wood.

    I should have more Pangasinense blades...







    Note the nut locking the tang to the pommel.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Finally, here are Ifugao bolos from Ifugao province in the northern highlands. The Ifugao used to be headhunters and used bolos and head axes to claim their trophies.

    These were made by an Ifugao blacksmith in the town of Kiangan, said to be the cradle of the Ifugao culture. I plan to visit him again to have a head axe made. He didn't have bandsaw steel (which he said made the best head axes) during my last visit.





    The handles are rolled from the same steel as the blade and wrapped with rattan. They are very solid pieces.





    I hope you enjoyed viewing them.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    I really like the Ifugao pieces. I'm quite interested in seeing the Aeta and Ifugao. I've seen an Aeta in Manila. He made a beeline for me and my buddy since my friend was black. We thought he was an addict at first--then we realized he was just down on his luck.

    By the way, I've heard the Batangas itaks like the one you have were actually made in Pangasinan. I have a bolo and a kris in the same style (carabao handles, brass bolsters and synthetic sheaths).

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    I like the Ifugao pieces a lot.

    Thanks so much for the interesting thread.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by Eskrimador View Post
    Finally, here are Ifugao bolos from Ifugao province in the northern highlands. The Ifugao used to be headhunters and used bolos and head axes to claim their trophies.

    These were made by an Ifugao blacksmith in the town of Kiangan, said to be the cradle of the Ifugao culture. I plan to visit him again to have a head axe made. He didn't have bandsaw steel (which he said made the best head axes) during my last visit.





    The handles are rolled from the same steel as the blade and wrapped with rattan. They are very solid pieces.





    I hope you enjoyed viewing them.
    Socket handles are the best for choppers--I love these! How much did those cost you?

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Very interesting! Thanks so much for sharing with us

    And yes, a sense of price-range of these blades would be cool to know, just to get a general idea - that is, if you would want to share, no probs if you'd rather not.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    I love the Ifugao blades! They're absolutely wonderful!

    The Quezon province blades always take me back, too. My grandmother still has one she uses to butcher meat.. even though it's more balanced for matial applications. I've had a lot of good meals prepared from a similar bolo. I don't know how she got it here to Canada. Probably in a balikbayan box. Also, my family isn't from Quezon so I wonder why of all blades she chose to use one from there.


    Pangasinan blades I'm not too fond of. The newer made ones have thinner spines than the antique examples I have handled. Older pangasinan blades werw wonderful, but these new ones I just don't feel safe using. they feel almost flimsy if I may be so bold to say.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Pepper, Pangasinan is pumping out both junk tourist blades and some of the best blades produced in the Philippines. The junkier ones are just as you describe, but the guy Eskrimador suggested I go see produces really, really good stuff.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    I like the Dahon Palay.

    The Ifugao blades have a lot in common with Taiwanese aboriginal blades... and of course I have a positive bias for Taiwanese aboriginal knives! The hollow handles can be odd and yet comfortable.
    ~Vinny

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    eskrimador, thanks for the nice pics and the good info

    there's more coverage in the internet of visayan (central philippines) and sulu-mindanao (southern phil.) blades. thus, info on luzon (northern phil.) blades sure is very much welcome.

    pampanga is a province in luzon which blades is also not well known. i was there the other day (in apalit town, the home of panday pira) and i picked up a pangtabas.

    it's the one in the middle and i placed it between two mindanao panabas, for comparison.

    the one on top is a lumad (non-moro mindanao) panabas, and it is 63 cm (25") long overall. the one at the bottom is a moro panabas, and it's 84 cm (33 1/2") long overall.

    during the philippine revolution (1896-1898) and the philippine-american war (1899-1902), three out of four filipino soldiers were bolomen. in central luzon, some of the soldiers did carry the pangtabas, side by side with their fellow revolutionaries who carried the traditional bolo.

    incidentally, the one identified as batangas has a hilt that is traditionally identified as coming from pangasinan.

    thanks again, and regards to all (this being my first post here).

    aside from the blog below by the way, i also write about phil. weapons here: facebook filhistory page. hope those interested in phil. weapons can check it out

    More Filipino weapons are at Filhistory

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Hello filhistory, welcome!

    The blog and facebook page is excellent. A little dose of Filipino martial history for me every few days when I log onto facebook.
    ~Vinny

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    thank you, sirs, for the welcome
    More Filipino weapons are at Filhistory

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Welcome, Filhistory!

    As an avid reader of your blog I am contented to see you in my neck of the internet woods! I'm not sure if you remember, but I commented on a Kris you posted: the five-waved one with the gold and ivory hilt. We discussed the possible origins of that particular piece in terms of location.

    Anyways, keep doing what you're doing and I hope to see you post here more!

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by ThePepperskull View Post
    Anyways, keep doing what you're doing and I hope to see you post here more!
    True that, keep it up!
    ~Vinny

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Mabuhay! Looks like there are lots of Manilenyos on here now, and you and eskrimador both have knowledge we appreciate! I might head up to Pampanga to have some sisig at Aling Lucing's before they shut it down.

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    Not just here for Hot Babes© filhistory's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    @ThePepperskull, thanks (and now i remember)! and i always read with great interest your posts in the other forum.

    @KuKulzA28, i surely read all your posts too whether it's taiwanese aborigine or otherwise. the commonality between our cultures is amazing.

    @jayinhk, thanks too. i've heard of that place but have not had the time to go there. but you're right, i should also check it out soon ... and take lipitor too beforehand

    on luzon blades, i guess luzon being nearest the colonial government's headquarters (i.e., manila), thus the traces of the original ethnic blades' design got erased the most ... unlike in the visayas and mindanao.

    just the same, i'm sure the original luzon blade designs can be figured out.
    More Filipino weapons are at Filhistory

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by jayinhk View Post
    I really like the Ifugao pieces. I'm quite interested in seeing the Aeta and Ifugao. I've seen an Aeta in Manila. He made a beeline for me and my buddy since my friend was black. We thought he was an addict at first--then we realized he was just down on his luck.
    The best place to see Aetas is at the JEST (Jungle Environment Survival Training) Camp inside Subic Freeport Zone where they used to train US Servicemen on jungle survival.

    They still do demonstrations of jungle craft using their bolos, but alas, they do not sell bolos there.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by filhistory View Post
    eskrimador, thanks for the nice pics and the good info

    there's more coverage in the internet of visayan (central philippines) and sulu-mindanao (southern phil.) blades. thus, info on luzon (northern phil.) blades sure is very much welcome.
    So true! Actually this thread was inspired by a separate thread where we were discussing ginuntings, pinutis, and other visayan blades.

    I figured I'd post pics of my Luzon blades to balance things out.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    thank you all for your posts I love phil. knives.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Great thread. Farmer is gonna love this one.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    How could I forget... These are pictures of the Philippine Army issue machete. It has a thick parkerized steel blade, full-tang construction, and rubber handle scales. The sheath is of hard plastic and features the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) crest. It is a heavy chopper, and is a poor match to the hand-forged bolos in the above pics.

    One wonders why the Army had to go with something like this when very effective traditional designs abound. Then again, these look like they were mass-produced to uniform specs; something very difficult to accomplish in traditional smithies.





    I don't think these are still being issued at present. It seems that the troops are given the freedom to buy their own utility bolos. Good thing I got this specimen (in unissued condition) before they became hard to find.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Here are my Pangasinan blades and some balisongs...


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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    yep, he does. I am gettin pics of some of mine.
    Wanna lick??

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Great thread! Everybody thanks for posting pics and info, really informative! filhistory, I will be reading your blog with much interest.

  31. #31
    Rio is a cheap bastid, I NEED A TITTLE dfarmerknives's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    A few pics of some of my favorites

    An espada y daga set with thousands of hours of training on it

    some golok type blades

    Ifugao pieces

    Bolos and workhorses
    Last edited by dfarmerknives; 06-30-2010 at 08:31 PM.
    Wanna lick??

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    Rio is a cheap bastid, I NEED A TITTLE dfarmerknives's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Valiant pieces

    Other cultures, including a Thai e nep


    enjoy.
    Wanna lick??

    HISTORY WAS MADE. BE AFRAID OF THE LEGACY.
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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    My socket handle forging work on a small piece. I'll get better and go to larger stuff...... These are forged from 5160 and hemp wrapped. My rattan stripping came in today and I will do more with rattan wraps.



    Wanna lick??

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    Dream warrior KuKulzA28's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    dayyyyum....

    goodstuff DFarmer!
    ~Vinny

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    I think Farmer's got more wares made by the same folks that do blades for Suwandi in that collection than those listed in the Valiant pic!

    Also, I love this thing:

    /*ॐ माँ निषाद प्रतिष्ठा त्वमगमः शास्वती समः यत् क्रोच मिथुनादेवकमवधी काममोहितं*/

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    I couldn't get all the Valiant pieces in one pic..... I like that piece, too, C.S. Graves. Got both the utility and defense bases covered.
    Wanna lick??

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  37. #37
    I can't remember outside any more ferguson's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Thanks for the great post Eskrimador. Here's an old pic of some of my Northern PI pieces.
    Steve


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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarmerknives View Post
    .... Got both the utility and defense bases covered.
    True. This Dahon Palay has the balance of a fighting blade.

    The weakness of Dahon Palays in general is their relatively fragile point. It is not unusual to see working Dahon Palays (that get used in the field everyday) with broken points.

    With this particular specimen, I consider the leather sheath a weakness because it is very easy for a sharp blade to cut through it when it is soaking wet from sweat, rain, water crossings, etc. And even if the blade doesn't cut the leather, the moisture promotes rust.

    I personally prefer wooden sheaths.

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    Dream warrior KuKulzA28's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    ferguson, your collection never ceases to amaze me!



    Quote Originally Posted by Eskrimador View Post
    True. This Dahon Palay has the balance of a fighting blade.

    The weakness of Dahon Palays in general is their relatively fragile point. It is not unusual to see working Dahon Palays (that get used in the field everyday) with broken points.
    Could they just make the spine thicker and have less distal tapering... or would that make it more tip heavy and make it a different animal altogether? Maybe farmers care less about the point since they rarely use it for stabbing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eskrimador View Post
    I personally prefer wooden sheaths.
    I agree. They can be clunky and uncomfortable at times, but well-treated wooden sheaths last awhile, can store the blade, and can hold it without rusting it. They also don't usually get cut through by the blade unless they're meant to be.
    Last edited by KuKulzA28; 07-04-2010 at 11:31 PM.
    ~Vinny

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by KuKulzA28 View Post
    Could they just make the spine thicker and have less distal tapering... or would that make it more tip heavy and make it a different animal altogether?
    That might be the idea behind a blade that I just heard about, one called the "Batavia". My friend describes it as being like a Dahon Palay, but with a heavier straight spine, full-tang construction, and a flared pommel.

    One wonders how people here come up with names like "Batavia" and "Sansibar"... they are certainly not local words.

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by Eskrimador View Post
    That might be the idea behind a blade that I just heard about, one called the "Batavia". My friend describes it as being like a Dahon Palay, but with a heavier straight spine, full-tang construction, and a flared pommel.

    One wonders how people here come up with names like "Batavia" and "Sansibar"... they are certainly not local words.
    Well, they have names like Canton, Peking, India, China, etc. Corruptions of local words. Beijing somehow becomes peking. India comes from Sind. China from Qing. Even titles such as GuoShingYe or in Cantonese, KokShingAi... the Dutch turn it into Koxinga. ...or even Moroland... hell they weren't called Moros before the Spaniards came and labeled them after the North Africans they had fought for independence against.

    People butcher names. Victors write history. They also have the right to name things.
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    Y'all's brains are local, mine is long distance!

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Ferguson's collection yet again leaves me drooling!!! as does DFarmer's and others' blade collections shown here. You guys keep on showing off such stuff I'll be blowing holes in my bank account yet again trying to play catch-up!!!

    KukulzA, good point about name-butchering down the ages!

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by sta94 View Post
    Ferguson's collection yet again leaves me drooling!!! as does DFarmer's and others' blade collections shown here. You guys keep on showing off such stuff I'll be blowing holes in my bank account yet again trying to play catch-up!!!
    Yes but don't forget you showed off lovely kukris some time ago.

    Mhm, kharma's a funny one, everything comes full circle.
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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by KuKulzA28 View Post
    Well, they have names like Canton, Peking, India, China, etc. Corruptions of local words. Beijing somehow becomes peking. India comes from Sind. China from Qing. Even titles such as GuoShingYe or in Cantonese, KokShingAi... the Dutch turn it into Koxinga. ...or even Moroland... hell they weren't called Moros before the Spaniards came and labeled them after the North Africans they had fought for independence against.

    People butcher names. Victors write history. They also have the right to name things.
    Your knowledge always astounds me

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    Dream warrior KuKulzA28's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by jayinhk View Post
    Your knowledge always astounds me
    Same to you.
    I just a know a little here and there. I read, listen, and ask questions. I had to have learned it from SOMEBODY. As for this stuff, I know a decent amount of history, have some martial arts background, and know a bit about the blades of China, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, and India... but it's very shallow knowledge. You, Eskrimador, and Dave (Pepperskull) know hella lot more than I do about Filipino and Moro blades... truth betold, I'm learning from you guys.
    ~Vinny

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Thank you, but I actually know very little about Pilipino blades. Indonesian and modern blades are more my thing, and when it comes to Indonesian blades, some of the guys at vikingsword.com have more knowledge of keris, golok and rencong (among others) than I could ever hope to have!

    Pepper: Batavia is the old name for Jakarta--it was given that name during Dutch occupation.

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    Dream warrior KuKulzA28's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    A thought occurred to me. The fittings on many Luzon blades are deeply influenced by Spaniards. Well, if you went back in time 500 years, all the Luzon blades probably would have been in wooden sheaths instead of some being in leather. What's the likelihood of many of those sheaths being open-faced sheaths? I have been wondering what caused some Austronesian and SE Asian cultures to keep the open-faced sheath and others to have a closed sheath when they both inhabit the same environments. Did cultural differences make ethnic groups less willing to adopt others' sheath styles? Was it a matter of "this is traditional, it works just fine, and it's the way we do it"? I'm sure a lot of traditional cultures stressed some level of conformity through tradition, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by jayinhk View Post
    Thank you, but I actually know very little about Pilipino blades. Indonesian and modern blades are more my thing, and when it comes to Indonesian blades, some of the guys at vikingsword.com have more knowledge of keris, golok and rencong (among others) than I could ever hope to have!
    Some of those guys at the Entho.Arms & Armor forum know or have access to a bewildering amount of information. I know enough for a lil' conversation, they know enough for weeks of intense discussion.
    Last edited by KuKulzA28; 07-14-2010 at 04:57 PM.
    ~Vinny

  48. #48
    so smooth she looks like she walks on water Michelle's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    What an awesome thread!

    Love the pics. Really love the couple of Kris pictures. I bought a Kris from Northern Luzon years ago and it was amazing.

    One of my favorite knives I ever owned was a punal, from Mindanao region. Light and quick in the hand.

    Really really great thread. Some of you have really impressive collections!

    m1

  49. #49
    Knows the secret handshake Eskrimador's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Quote Originally Posted by KuKulzA28 View Post
    ... What's the likelihood of many of those sheaths being open-faced sheaths? I have been wondering what caused some Austronesian and SE Asian cultures to keep the open-faced sheath and others to have a closed sheath when they both inhabit the same environments. Did cultural differences make ethnic groups less willing to adopt others' sheath styles? Was it a matter of "this is traditional, it works just fine, and it's the way we do it"? I'm sure a lot of traditional cultures stressed some level of conformity through tradition, etc... .
    I had the good fortune of spending a few hours talking with a traditional Ifugao blacksmith, and he said the primary reason for the open-faced sheaths on their bolos is a combination of religious beliefs and a bit of "machismo".

    He said that Ifugao men like to show-off the shiny blades of their bolos, and the open-faced sheath allows them to do so while they are simply walking around. He also said that "Anitos" (nature spirits) are afraid of shiny blades, and a shiny bolo in an open-faced sheath acts as a talisman to ward off the malevolent spirits.

    I have a theory however (and it is just my theory) that the open-faced sheaths used almost exclusively by the mountain tribes of North Luzon have to do with protecting the steel blades from moisture and therefore rust. An open-faced sheath keeps the blade at ambient temperature (it can get cold up in the highlands) and therefore prevents condensation on the metal. I imagine that condensation (and therefore rust) would be more of a problem on enclosed sheaths, specially when worn next to the body. The blade can get relatively warm that way and condensation would be almost sure to form on the metal when drawn and exposed to the cold mountain air.

    Going back to the Ifugao smith... when I asked him what the preferred weapon is in the highlands today, his answer was straight and practical: M14 rifle, but an M16 will do.

    One more thing... When I got the Ifugao bolos (Pinahig) from him, he told me of a strange method of preparing the steel to take a very keen edge. He told me to whack a thick banana tree trunk with the bolos and make sure that most, if not all, of the blades' edges are embedded in the trunk. Then I was to leave the bolos there overnight, retrieve them the next morning, and only then would they take a keen edge. I wasn't sure if that was born of superstition, or if doing that had some effect on the temper of the steel. The blades are sharp enough as they are... Maybe he was referring to the "head-chopping" kind of edge needed by their headhunter forebears..

    I've never heard anything like that from the other smiths that I know/met, and I make it a point to pick their brains whenever I can.
    Last edited by Eskrimador; 07-15-2010 at 04:24 AM.

  50. #50
    Dream warrior KuKulzA28's Avatar

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    Default Re: Luzon (Philippines) blades

    Good points. To prevent rust is the main reason most people (Taiwanese aborigines, Cordillera, Kachin, etc.) have open faced scabbards, but many of them DON'T... which begs the question why? MOST Taiwanese aboriginal blades have open-faced scabbards, with some exceptions. But look at parangs, goloks, klewangs, pedangs, dha, darb, mandau, bolos, talibon, moro sandata, etc. they mostly have closed scabbards... the moisture and rain didn't go away, but the open face did.... So what advantage does a closed scabbard have?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eskrimador View Post
    I've never heard anything like that from the other smiths that I know/met, and I make it a point to pick their brains whenever I can.
    I have. In south India, they have these bill-hook machetes called aruval. Some blacksmiths will make the blade and then hack it into a certain type of tree and will collect it later. Supposedly makes it sharper. I wonder if there's any acidity or something in the tree.... I wouldn't be surprised if a combination of superstition and old traditional knowledge has contributed to the practice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eskrimador View Post
    Going back to the Ifugao smith... when I asked him what the preferred weapon is in the highlands today, his answer was straight and practical: M14 rifle, but an M16 will do.
    Makes sense. I'd get an M16 if I could. Especially if my enemies had guns, or even if they had axes and bolos....
    ~Vinny

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