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Old 12th July 2020, 10:57 AM   #1
tanaruz
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Default BARUNG OR BADUNG?

Hello,

Here's a blade my father acquired last year in an antique shop in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

The over-all-length is 23 inches, with a 17.25 inches blade.

My first impression on this blade is that it is a barung (Sulu)- not sure if tausug, samal or yakan and not a badung.

Description:
1) Hilt- banati wood; silver hilt and ferrule with silver-braided shank collar (budbud/baykaskas).

2) there are Chinese character marks on the blade. I had it translated- "MEMORY OR SCRIBE.' Thus making this piece an ANGKUN BLADE.

3) scabbard: wood with okir engravings on the mouth and end- with fine NYLON strands on each side of the scabard to hold tha scabbard parts together.

There's also a provision for a rope to pass through for fastening the blade to one's side

Question:

is it a Sulu barung or a palawan badung? what characteristics would point the blade to be a barung? or badung?

Any imput/info would be highly appreciated.

Kind regards

Regards,

Yves
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Old 12th July 2020, 01:40 PM   #2
Ian
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The sword is a Sulu barung. The scabbard is Palawano, and probably more recently made than the blade. The blade has Chinese characters, not uncommon on Sulu barung, and indicate it is of Chinese manufacture. The hilt is hard to see in your pictures and we need better pictures of it. I think the pommel may be Palawano but it is hard to tell. The scabbard, however, is of characteristic Palawano form: multiple strips of binding material passing through "tunnels" in the wooden face of the scabbard; there is also a drilled hole for a suspension rope. None of these features are seen on typical Sulu barung scabbards.
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Old 13th July 2020, 01:42 AM   #3
tanaruz
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Default BARUNG OR BADUNG?

Hi Sir,

Many thanks for the info. Here are additional pictures of the pommel and of the okirs along the scabbard.

If, the blade is sulu- could it possibly me yakan, samal or tausug? I've read some reference articles regarding the types of barung provenance- and this piece (my opinion only)- points to having the characteristics of a Yakan piece: i.e., a) hilt - crest rises to a height of several inches and WITHOUT THE CURVES that are found in other barung kakatuas; b) the plume is beveled(reduced to a sloping edge) and rather thick at the uppermost point; c) instead of the typical 3-inch punto, Yakan barung sleeves are approximately one and a quarter inches (on a regular-sized barung yes perhaps) but my blade is quite small and the punto is less than 1 inch.- ref.: cato's plate # 21.

What if the blade's pommel features indicate that it's probably not sulu? then the only other posibility is that this is a Palawan'on Saptunggal buna-buna badung blade? Just thinking though ha ha.

Regards

Yves
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Old 13th July 2020, 03:17 AM   #4
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I hope you don't mind but I edited your pictures a little to highlight some of the features. I need to check some reference books to comment further. While I do that, perhaps someone else may like to comment on the pommel and scabbard decorations.

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Old 13th July 2020, 05:42 AM   #5
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I'm thinking that the barong itself is not Palawano like the scabbard.
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Old 13th July 2020, 06:44 AM   #6
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Hello again Yves,

The scabbard is Palawano. I have checked some aspects of the carving at the throat and it is certainly Palawano. A further picture is attached of this area. There are horizontal linear elements of triangle and diamond shapes (black arrows) intersected by similar vertical lines (white arrows) that segment the carvings into squares containing similarly carved motifs. Above that are further carved vines and leaves, but if one looks closely the carving is asymmetrical.

The segmented elements are typical Palawano work, as shown by the second attached picture which is from a Palawano bangkung scabbard. My sword and scabbard are of mid-late 20th C. manufacture and the carving is not as detailed as on your barung scabbard.

The asymmetric areas on the barung scabbard are not typical of Sulu carvings, so I don't think this scabbard started out as Sulu. Yakan carvings can be asymmetrical, as can those from Zamboanga. However, given the other features that I described earlier that clearly point to Palawano work, I think we can say that the entire scabbard is Palawano work.

As I mentioned previously, I am confident the blade is Sulu (most likely Tausug) in origin and made by a Chinese smith. There are numerous examples of such blades, some of which appear to be from the 19th C. or even earlier. The pommel is made from banati wood, with its typical "striped" appearance. This is a common and prestigious wood used for pommels on Sulu barung, and I have not seen it used on Palawano weapons. The carved kakatua hilt also strikes me as Sulu, probably Tausug, although there may have been some recarving of the beak and crest--hard to say. The punto looks typical Sulu work: silver or silver wash over brass, uniform width, and simple circumferential line decoration. Many Palawano ferrules are brass and have a fluted "bell" shape at either or both ends. There appears to be a plaited silver wire ring at the end of the punto, again a common finding on higher quality Sulu barung. Plaited rings on Palawano hilts tend to be hemp or rattan, although I imagine silver could be anticipated also on higher quality pieces.

So, I come back to my original thoughts--a Sulu (Tausug) barung in a Palawano scabbard. The barung is a higher end piece, datu quality perhaps, and the blade may be 100 years or so old. It's small size may mean it was a child's or woman's barung, or perhaps made for concealment.

Thanks for showing this interesting piece.

Ian.
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Old 13th July 2020, 10:14 AM   #7
tanaruz
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Default BARUNG OR BADUNG?

Hi Sir,

Thanks so much for the information. Now I rest content knowing what my blade is and probable history/provenance.

A Sulu blade(tausug probably). Scabbard lost in time or broken, and a new scabbard was made by those who migrated to the southern part of Palawan (which was a part of the Sulu sultanate then).

Note: In addition, I've read an article on chinese-marked blades, to quote:'Some barong blades were made by Chinese smiths (due to the similarity in style to certain Chinese cleavers) for import into the Sulu sultanate. These blades tended to be of EXCELLENT QUALITY and often feature Chinese characters stamped into the forte'.

Kindest regards,

Yves
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Old 14th July 2020, 01:59 AM   #8
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I agree with Ian on everything but one. The chop marks on the blade need to be checked out by someone who knows Chinese. There have been several times when such chop marks are actually nonsense to look Chinese to sell the blade easier at a higher price.
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Old 14th July 2020, 10:12 AM   #9
tanaruz
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Default BARUNG OR BADUNG?

Hi,

My father had it translated. They are Chinese characters which means 'MEMORY' OR 'SCRIBE."

Regards
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Old 15th July 2020, 12:00 AM   #10
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Great!
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