Ethnographic Arms & Armour

Ethnographic Arms & Armour (
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tanaruz 23rd July 2020 08:38 AM

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Hi all,

A Tausug barung which my father bought from the US 2 years ago. Circa: 1st quarter of the 20th century(the seller told me).

But there are 2 things that caught my attention. The rope around near the mouth of the scabbard (supposedly to tie around the waist). Is this typical of Tausug barungs? or barungs for that matter?

The 2nd thing is the pommel design. I've read an article on barung characteristics and classes (first class, datu, ceremonial; middle class/commoner and the low class/fighting-combat class). On the low class/fighting pommel " combat barongs are distinguished by short protrusions which are a little more than mere suggestions on the crest and the beak of the kakatua motif."
Question: kindy look at the pommel of this barung. Is this a low class/ combat type barung?

Thanks and regards


Ian 23rd July 2020 10:57 AM

Hello Yves,

On the two points you raise. The cord around the neck of the scabbard is not a suspension device for wearing the sword IMHO. Barung are worn either tucked into the waist of the pants or, more commonly, tucked through a sash around the waist. The cord on your piece is intended, I think, to hang the piece as a display item. The braiding of the cord looks Western in style, and probably was put there by the previous owner in the U.S.

The pommel is a 20th C, pre-WWII style. The absence of a "crest" may suggest that it was intended primarily as a fighting sword rather than for wearing at social events, although the silver punto is an attractive feature and the scabbard has some nice lime-filled okir carving. I don't think this is a peasant's barung, but was owned by someone who could afford a silver punto and well carved scabbard. While not a datu quality piece, it is certainly attractive and well made for a moderately prosperous, sensible Tausug gent--good for a fight but with a bit of "bling" as well. :D

Battara 24th July 2020 01:54 AM

I agree with all Ian said.

One other possibility is that there was a little semblance of a "tail" crest that was broken off and then the remnants carved out. I base this possibility on the was the carving in that area is cruder than the rest of the work on the pommel and have seen this on other pieces with broken off tails. Again a possibility.

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