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Old 7th April 2020, 03:26 AM   #1
tanaruz
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Default Philippine Bolo

Hello friends. Greetings from Manila. My first post. I bought this beautiful blade recently- I can't identify it properly. My gut feel tells me it is a Lumad Tagakaolo bolo (but i'm not really sure). It has Japanese (or Chinese) characters on the scabbard, and on the blade itself - plus a pagoda.

Could this be a war trophy of a Japanese soldier (if the characters is Japanese)during WW2 and recaptured back to the US forces? Are the characters Japanese or Chinese? what does it say/translate?

Really appreciate any feedback/info on this lovely blade.

Regards and keep safe,

Yves
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Old 7th April 2020, 01:41 PM   #2
Lee
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Here is the inscription, rotated and sharpened...
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Old 7th April 2020, 04:22 PM   #3
Ren Ren
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This is extremely interesting! Black characters 奉公袋 in Japanese read "hokobukuro" and mean "service records bag" http://www.nambuworld.com/hokobukuro.htm
I donít understand how these scabbards and the Japanese soldierís bag are connected, and this is a very interesting case!

For red characters, a separate photo is required - now it is impossible to read them.
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Old 7th April 2020, 04:30 PM   #4
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Very cool knife , even with the odd translation
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Old 7th April 2020, 04:45 PM   #5
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Hello Yves,

Welcome to the forum! I also think that your very interesting bolo is from the Kaolu or Tagakaolo, very interesting with the painting and lettering.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 7th April 2020, 09:18 PM   #6
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Thumbs up Kaolu hilt

Hello Yves, and welcome to the Forum!

Thanks for posting this very interesting example. The only thing that is definitively Tagakaolu/Kaolu on your piece is the hilt. The curious "ears" to the pommel are uniquely Kaolu as far as I know.

Attached is a picture showing various hilts from Bagobo/Kaolu swords. The oldest is the traditional Bagobo hilt in the upper left. In the bottom right corner is an example of the same form of hilt as shown on your bolo.

In looking at your sword, the edge appears to have a prominent bevel and I wonder if it has a chisel grind. This would be very unusual for a Kaolu blade as the Bagobo/Kaolu knives and swords have a V-grind. If it does have a chisel grind, then the blade is likely Visayan with a hilt from the Kaolu. Since the Kaolu live on Mt. Apo, a dormant volcano on the outskirts of Davao City, and a large population of Visayans live in Davao City, it would not be at all surprising to see a combination of a Visayan blade and a Kaolu hilt. That blade form is certainly produced in many Visayan areas. Overall, I think your bolo was a working tool, as evidenced by the many knicks and chips to the blade, rather than primarily a weapon. The humble, roughly carved hilt, would fit with that use also.

The scabbard may be Kaolu but has been decorated by another culture. The Japanese inscription suggests it was the product of a Japanese soldier during WWII, who perhaps adopted the bolo as his personal jungle knife or machete.

A very interesting piece. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Ian.
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Last edited by Ian : 7th April 2020 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 8th April 2020, 01:57 AM   #7
Battara
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Welcome to our little forum (and Mabuhay!)!


I totally agree with Ian. All I can add is that the manner of the carvings, the paint, and the manner of blade was made all point to me to WWII.

And I agree with you that many weapons (including copies of Japanese katana) were made locally for Japanese soldiers during the occupation.
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Old 8th April 2020, 06:40 AM   #8
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It should be remembered this nice sword Ian has shown a long time ago: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=Tagakaolo
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Old 8th April 2020, 12:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
Welcome to our little forum (and Mabuhay!)!
And I agree with you that many weapons (including copies of Japanese katana) were made locally for Japanese soldiers during the occupation.

In the auxiliary units of the Japanese Imperial Army, not only the Japanese served, but also the peoples from the occupied countries. Or I'm wrong?
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Old 8th April 2020, 07:11 PM   #10
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A box used to hold service records may have been repurposed into a scabbard when the service of the Japanese was terminated and the box remained when he didn't.
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Old 8th April 2020, 09:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ren Ren
In the auxiliary units of the Japanese Imperial Army, not only the Japanese served, but also the peoples from the occupied countries. Or I'm wrong?

There were some collaborators, but most of the people hated the Japanese soldiers and government, especially if you include little things like forced labor,
forcing girls from 10 years old to women of 40 to become "comfort women" to "serve" the Japanese soldiers, and other atrocities from the minute they arrived. They hated them so much that Filipinos, Moros, and all tribes united fought against them (instead of each other). My 10 year old father had to flee with my lolo to the forested mountains to escape forced labor camps and his little sister and my lola put dirt on their faces and dirty clothes so that the Japanese soldiers would not rape them both.

Sorry, I'll stop now. This is just to give folks a very tiny taste of that time there.

To further answer your question, many Koreans were forced to be in auxiliary units, and perhaps others.
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Old 8th April 2020, 11:19 PM   #12
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Thank you for answer, Battara! Believe me, I didnít want to offend your feelings - we in Russia know well how the invaders behaved in the occupied territory.

But I would like to return to the Japanese soldier "service records bag". From the information that I could find in Russian and English, it follows that this was an important thing, which was not only the subject of military ammunition. For the Japanese reservist, the bag was a symbol of his connection with the Army - he was kept in a place of honor in the house in the wall hollow "tokonoma". I suppose that decorating scabbard of the bolo with the inscription "hokobukuro", its owner wanted to show his connection with the Japanese Army. But the Japanese soldier had nothing to do for this - he had his own genuine bag. This was probably done by a person who was not so familiar with Japanese rules and customs.
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Old 10th April 2020, 03:19 AM   #13
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Oh no offense taken. The Nazi's were insanely brutal occupiers to the Russians as well, unfortunately.
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Old 11th April 2020, 09:19 AM   #14
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Default philippine bolo

Hi Friends,

Great info! Very much appreciated. This piece will be in my private gallery (along with about 250+ blades; moro, lumad, visayas, luzon and foreign swords). I was just afraid that once I have displayed it (as a conversational piece), I may not be able to answer and share why a Lumad kaolo blade has Japanese markings

Again many thanks and hope you are all well. Keep safe!

Yves
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Old 12th April 2020, 04:42 AM   #15
tanaruz
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Default kaolu bolo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
Oh no offense taken. The Nazi's were insanely brutal occupiers to the Russians as well, unfortunately.


Hi friends.

additional info on the kaolu bolo:

1) blade: flat on one side, then convex on the other side with strong beveled edge (chisel grind,right?)

2) pics of the RED characters and other characters on the scabbard and on the blade itself.

Thanks and be safe everyone.

Yves
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Old 13th April 2020, 09:15 PM   #16
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Thanks for these pics! What I see, in my opinion, was written by three different people.
Red characters 章書記 are read in Japanese Akira shoki - a secretary / clerk named Akira, in Chinese Zhang shuji with the same meaning. Combined with the inscription "service records bag" is a bit like humor?
The character on the blade 昋 is read in Chinese Gui and means the surname (also possible 吞 surname Tun), in the Japanese dictionary I did not find these characters.
The characters on the handle are difficult to read, I will deal with them later.
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Old 14th April 2020, 09:07 AM   #17
Ian
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Question Just gets more curious

I don't recall seeing a Kaolu blade with a chisel grind before. Then again, my experience with Kaolu blades is pretty limited.

Maybe it's Visayan. A very interesting bolo in many respects! Maybe some of our Filipino experts have some other ideas.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 14th April 2020 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 14th April 2020, 11:09 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
I don't recall seeing a Kaolu blade with a chisel grind before. Then again, my experience with Kaolu blades is pretty limited.

Maybe it's Visayan. A very interesting bolo in many respects! Maybe some of our Filipino experts have some other ideas.

Hi Ian,

Have had similar thoughts and I agree, it could very well a Visayan bolo, this handle style is common there as well.

Regards,
Detlef

Last edited by Ian : 14th April 2020 at 12:18 PM.
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