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Old 9th September 2021, 05:42 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Ian View Post
As a general observation, and by no means an absolute statement, it is customary in the last 80-90 years for Filipinos to make edged items (tools and weapons) from mono-steel when possible. In general, they cut better and break less often—mono-steel does not delaminate. Laminated blades are made either by those who could not afford or could not acquire mono-steel, or by those pursuing aesthetics and traditional cultural techniques.
I agree with much of what you are saying Ian, though i believe the jury is still out on the laminated vs mono-steel question. At least i am sure you will still find quite a bit of difference of opinion here. It has been my understanding though that mono-steel is more apt to break than laminated steel, since a laminated blade can restrict the areas of high carbon steel, which is most likely to break, to the areas where it is most needed, allowing the over all body of the blade more resistance to shattering under stress.

Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Finding a laminated blade on a gunong might suggest a few things. It could mean that the blade is from before WWII when laminated blades were more common. Refitting of old blades with newer hilts is common. However, gunong were not highly regarded as weapons and redressing them with fancy hilts for what was essentially a work knife or a concealed weapon may not have made a lot of sense. If you look at examples collected by U.S. soldiers and researchers in the period 1900–1920, these knives were very plain and had simple wooden or horn hilts. Fancier versions mostly came later, and have long been an item for sale outside the culture.
I have seen a good number of old gunong from this 1900-1920 period with laminated blades AND "fancy" dress. By fancy i don't mean extravagant, but rather well crafted from highly prized materials. If you had the means your gunong probably had ivory and silver fittings. I don't think it was so much a matter of the style of the times as what your societal status was. I have attached my own example from this era.

Originally Posted by Ian View Post
There are other small Moro knives that have been dressed up in different ways. There are all metal knives and scabbards with fancy curling guards, that have been referred to as sarimanok knives. These may date back as far as the 1930s. They feature metal (usually brass) hilts and guard, often with a brass scabbard. Blades on these knives are usually wavy, very thin and poor quality. [The sarimanok is a fanciful and mystical chicken, mostly associated with Maranao folk lore.]
Though this is probably not the place to get into a larger discuss on sarimanok, i must say i find referring to this important cultural symbol of the Maranao people as a "fanciful and mystical chicken" a bit dismissive and misleading. It is derived from the totem bird Itotoro, and is seen as a medium to the spirit world via its unseen twin spirit bird called Inikadowa. While the perceived image of this cultural totem has indeed become more "chicken" like in more recent years, it seems to have less in common with this common fowl in older artistic interpretations. It does clearly have a very deep seated position in Maranao culture even if a great deal of it's former power and place has been lost to time and cultural suppression (i.e. colonialization). This is obvious in the way this icon appears again and again in cultural representations and marketing.
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