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Old 26th August 2022, 12:14 PM   #1
xasterix
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Default Hybrid kris for comment

Just got this kris with a Luzon animal horn hilt. Open to comments and analyses. My initial assessment is that it's a late 1800s kris blade that was re-hilted in Luzon sometime during the American era, early 1900s-preWW2 (the knot holding the scabbard looks non-Moro). Also wondering if anyone else has a similar hybrid combo (Luzon peened hilt + Moro weapon). TIA!
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Old 26th August 2022, 03:54 PM   #2
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Always interesting to see hybrid Filipino blades. I remember seeing kris with traditional hilt from Aklan or Iloilo and another one with traditional hilt from Rizal, it never looks bad.
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Old 26th August 2022, 09:31 PM   #3
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From the top of the blade, the okie, and the scabbard, this was originally a Maguindanao kris that might have belonged to a datu, but rehilted and "roped" at a later time.

I LOVE the blade. I finished re-inlaying the missing silver into a similar design in another Maguindanao blade not too long ago. (I'll be working on the hilt sometime in the near future....).
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Old 27th August 2022, 03:32 AM   #4
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I agree with Jose that the blade and scabbard are Maguindanao.

Blade looks turn of the century to early 20th c. to me (a close-up of the base of the blade taken exactly vertical from the plane of the blade really helps).

I doubt that this is a peened tang though: While it is possible they extended the original tang, this looks more like a nail holding the pommel plate and washer IMHO. Xas, can you possibly sense with a really strong magnet?

The hilt looks like Filipino work but could as well be US/European (that's quite a big piece of stag). Ferrule is Moro. The rope/knot work on the scabbard most likely being added by an US service man or later owner.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 27th August 2022, 10:57 AM   #5
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Thanks for the kind words everyone!

Kai, here's the gangya pic. The blade measure from the base of the gangya is 20 inches long. It's monosteel, very light, and flexible. The fuller is wide and deep. It's the lightest sword I've ever held for its size, to the extent that I can do flicking moves with it.

I ran a magnet over the hilt; it's confirmed that it's a peened setup. A guy familiar with Tagalog peens commented that the "punch" used (the 'nail' at the butt) looks very much like a ship rivet. It's the largest punch he's seen used on a traditional blade.

I've disassembled kris before with abnormally long tangs- some had their original tangs extended (additional material welded), or seemed to have been grafted with replacement tangs. Whichever the case it was for this particular kris- whoever put together this peened setup for the kris had a good sense of the wield "balance."

Also to add, regarding possible location of retrofitting: I've seen a few American-era Batangas or Cavite-made blades utilizing the same material (antler) and peen setup, so I'm betting this piece was modified there. There were also Pangasinan and Ilocos Norte blades of the same era made of antler, but their peen setup was different.
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Old 29th August 2022, 12:42 AM   #6
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Kai I agree with your dating of the blade. My nearly identical blade has lamination, and thus I would put mine at a little earlier.

Xasterix, I would agree that this type of peening or nail is Tagalog.
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Old 29th August 2022, 02:27 AM   #7
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Kai I agree with your dating of the blade. My nearly identical blade has lamination, and thus I would put mine at a little earlier.

Xasterix, I would agree that this type of peening or nail is Tagalog.
Thanks for the response sir Jose!

If you would allow me some topic deviation already- I'm curious regarding the monosteel / laminated impact on age estimation. As I understand- there was an archaic kris or two that was discussed here before as being monosteel. I've also encountered an archaic kris (it looked exactly like small forum samples) that, when it was etched, also yielded monosteel. Another instance that I remember- I had a barung with carabao-horn sleeve, large junggayan pommel, and chop-mark that surprisingly yielded monosteel.

In light of these samples, perhaps it can be assumed that certain locations with resourceful panday/artisan outfits had early access to monosteel? As I understand, monosteel is superior to laminated steel in terms of resilience and overall quality (thus if it was available, it would be prized by the pandays of old).
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Old 29th August 2022, 02:35 AM   #8
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Sorry I don't have better pictures...but here are two of my friend's archaic krises which are both monosteel.
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Old 30th August 2022, 05:08 AM   #9
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Here is one of my kris that although being 17c, has a mono-steel blade. Hilt is made of sea cow ivory, silver, and swassa. The asana-asang is silver also.
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Old 30th August 2022, 04:30 PM   #10
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Here is one of my kris that although being 17c, has a mono-steel blade. Hilt is made of sea cow ivory, silver, and swassa. The asana-asang is silver also.
Nice and elaborate piece sir!

In the context of these odd monosteel pieces...can it then be assumed that an old Moro or Filipino traditional blade's status as a laminated piece, doesn't automatically guarantee it as being older than say, a monosteel piece of the same type? And that a monosteel blade doesn't necessarily equate to post1900s?
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Old 30th August 2022, 06:16 PM   #11
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Battara, could it be possible to get close up picture of your blade ?
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Old 30th August 2022, 07:01 PM   #12
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Battara, could it be possible to get close up picture of your blade ?
I would also like to see close-ups.
Also wondering Josť, how you have identified this pommel as Dunong (sea cow).
Dunong tusks can be up to about 25cm, but they tend to be rather slim. I'm not sure they have the mass for creating a pommel like this. Is it possible it might be whale tooth instead.
And also also wonder how you place this in the 17th century? It is a simpler form than what we generally consider to be "archaic" form keris from that era. Is there something besides it being a slim stabbing style form that leads you to such an early dating?
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Old 31st August 2022, 02:02 AM   #13
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Dear all,

None of the pieces shown in this thread so far is in well enough polish (and etch/stain) to really prove them actually being monosteel if defined as modern homogeneous steel from highly standardized industrial production processes, usually of western origin.

Steel of decent quality and carbon content could just as well have been obtained by selecting suitable raw material(s), folding it multiple times onto itself (i.e. "washing" out impurities and homogenizing the internal structure of the steel during this standard blacksmithing process) if you accept the associated loss of the expensive material (and coal/coke) as well as possible changes to its carbon content during this lengthy process. If you do a high polish and possibly fine etching, you can usually still see the laminated structure of such a steel (as in most Japanese sword steel); if you keep folding, the structure tends to disappear and you may only be able to detect hints from the placement of any remaining isolated imperfections. This is the traditional approach to obtain "monosteel" which was usually too precious to utilize for fully forging any blade from it. While one may find such examples crafted for affluent customers, for the majority of blades only a minimum amount of such steel got utilized though (for the middle layer of a sandwich construction or only for edges of the blade ).

Even before the availability of mass-produced western steel, steel got imported into SE Asia from China, India, and even Europe.

Regards,
Kai

Last edited by kai; 31st August 2022 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Adding "homogeneous" to the definition
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Old 31st August 2022, 04:22 AM   #14
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Dear all,

None of the pieces shown in this thread so far is in well enough polish (and etch/stain) to really prove them actually being monosteel if defined as modern steel from highly standardized industrial production processes, usually of western origin.

Steel of decent quality and carbon content could just as well have been obtained by selecting suitable raw material(s), folding it multiple times onto itself (i.e. "washing" out impurities and homogenizing the internal structure of the steel during this standard blacksmithing process) if you accept the associated loss of the expensive material (and coal/coke) as well as possible changes to its carbon content during this lengthy process. If you do a high polish and possibly fine etching, you can usually still see the laminated structure of such a steel (as in most Japanese sword steel); if you keep folding, the structure tends to disappear and you may only be able to detect hints from the placement of any remaining isolated imperfections. This is the traditional approach to obtain "monosteel" which was usually too precious to utilize for fully forging any blade from it. While one may find such examples crafted for affluent customers, for the majority of blades only a minimum amount of such steel got utilized though (for the middle layer of a sandwich construction or only for edges of the blade ).

Even before the availability of mass-produced western steel, steel got imported into SE Asia from China, India, and even Europe.

Regards,
Kai
I'm not that well-versed in metallurgy, Kai- but to clarify, isn't monosteel simply defined as one layer of steel? For example, stolen railroad tracks- 1084 steel, if I researched correctly- was mentioned by several historical references to have been used by pandays in the mid to late 1800s (mid- from foreign trade, late- exclusively in Luzon) and sold/bartered as "quality steel." This steel source became even more popular during the American era (early 1900s-preWW2). Parts of certain ship vessels made of steel were also cannibalized for trade. In these cases- if such steel sources were used to make swords, won't the end product qualify as monosteel?
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Old 2nd September 2022, 03:04 AM   #15
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Hello Xas,

Yes, I should have added "homogeneous" to my quick & dirty attempt above at defining monosteel: A single layer of homogeneous steel is pretty much only possible with modern production technology (or heating wootz to red heat or even less and thereby destroying its crystalline microstructure).

OTOH, most cultures had no choice but to start with selected bloomery produce and obtain more or less laminated steel by multiple folding upon itself. If continuing with this process long enough, this results in almost homogeneous steel. However, one might argue that in most cases this is not fully equivalent to modern monosteel (more macro-/microscopic impurities and alloyed elements with negative impact as well as remnants of laminations).

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Kai
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Old 2nd September 2022, 03:30 AM   #16
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Hello Xas,

Quote:
For example, stolen railroad tracks- 1084 steel, if I researched correctly- was mentioned by several historical references to have been used by pandays in the mid to late 1800s (mid- from foreign trade, late- exclusively in Luzon) and sold/bartered as "quality steel." This steel source became even more popular during the American era (early 1900s-preWW2). Parts of certain ship vessels made of steel were also cannibalized for trade. In these cases- if such steel sources were used to make swords, won't the end product qualify as monosteel?
Yes, if a sword would be fully made from these common sources of modern steel with limited forging, the resulting blades would be monosteel. 1084 steel is an especially good choice in a low-tech setting since quenching will be successful under a fairly wide range of process parameters; also the hardened blade can still be easily sharpened and will not be prone to breaking. 1095 steel could yield better edges/hardness if quenched correctly but this is more difficult. Thus, 1084 is a good choice for longer blades in a rural setting.

If monosteel would be folded onto itself several times in a traditional SE Asian blacksmithing forge, it might exhibit (non-contrasting) laminations again.

In many cases though, this precious steel would have been only utilized as the central layer of steel for the later edges of the sword and sandwiched between 2 layers of laminated mild steels made from salvaged other materials (cheaper and less likely to break due to lesser carbon content).

BTW, leaf springs from Japanese trucks continued to be of laminated steel (IIRC even after WW2).

Regards,
Kai
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Old 2nd September 2022, 08:51 AM   #17
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Hello Xas,


Yes, if a sword would be fully made from these common sources of modern steel with limited forging, the resulting blades would be monosteel. 1084 steel is an especially good choice in a low-tech setting since quenching will be successful under a fairly wide range of process parameters; also the hardened blade can still be easily sharpened and will not be prone to breaking. 1095 steel could yield better edges/hardness if quenched correctly but this is more difficult. Thus, 1084 is a good choice for longer blades in a rural setting.

If monosteel would be folded onto itself several times in a traditional SE Asian blacksmithing forge, it might exhibit (non-contrasting) laminations again.

In many cases though, this precious steel would have been only utilized as the central layer of steel for the later edges of the sword and sandwiched between 2 layers of laminated mild steels made from salvaged other materials (cheaper and less likely to break due to lesser carbon content).

BTW, leaf springs from Japanese trucks continued to be of laminated steel (IIRC even after WW2).

Regards,
Kai
Dear Kai:

Thanks very much for the deluge of info and learnings! Really good stuff. One really needs to do legwork (in this case, metallurgy knowledge) to connect the dots and figure out the hows and whys of PH+Moro tradblade construction.
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Old 2nd September 2022, 03:25 PM   #18
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Polished or not, flaws can help identify if it comes from bloomed steel, that was forge folded. Also some part of structure can be seen sometimes, such as layers, quench, pattern welded, even without polishing/etching. So please, dont hesitate to share close up picture in order to get more responses
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Old 2nd September 2022, 10:07 PM   #19
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I fully agree, Julien! Sharp and well-lit close-ups would be great.

Actually, Jose's piece seems to exhibit enough activity making it a candidate for possibly being laminated...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 3rd September 2022, 04:30 AM   #20
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I'll try to get pics this weekend.
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Old 3rd September 2022, 04:26 PM   #21
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Default Let's make sure we are talking abougt the same thing here ...

There is frequent mention of homogenous steel in the comments above. The adjective homogenous requires some thought, being a relatively recent alternative to homogeneous, which indicates uniformity of composition or structure.

There is a concise discussion of homogeneous versus homogenous in the Gammarist web site:
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Homogeneous means (1) of the same or similar nature, and (2) uniform in structure or composition. Its corresponding noun is homogeneity.

Homogenous, whose corresponding noun is homogeny, is a little-used biological term whose old sense has mostly been lost. Today, it’s primarily a variant of homogeneous in general usage, though it still has uses in science, where spelling it any other way would be considered an error.

Though some careful nonscientific writers continue to try to keep the words separate, it is a lost cause in popular usage. And the change is not new; people have been using homogenous in place of homogeneous throughout the English-speaking world for at least a century, ... so trying to preserve the distinction is probably a losing battle.

https://grammarist.com/usage/homogenous-homogeneous/
Using this now accepted meaning of homogenous, then homogenous steel would be steel that is produced with a uniform chemical composition and microscopic structure.

If we take this homogenous steel and then fold it on itself several times by heating and forging, do we still have homogenous steel? I would argue that the faces of the various layers when heated and exposed to air would have different chemical and structural characteristics from the subsurface steel, thus introducing heterogeneities (at least at the microscopic level) to the various layers of steel.

I think the only way to preserve the homogeneity of the original steel would be to forge a blade without laminations. Even then, the homogeneity would again be lost through any differential heat treatment/quenching.

Using various steels of different composition to start with, and then forging them into each other, obviously introduces much greater heterogeneity to the final product than starting with a homogeneous stock.

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Old 3rd September 2022, 05:07 PM   #22
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Also wondering Josť, how you have identified this pommel as Dunong (sea cow).
Dunong tusks can be up to about 25cm, but they tend to be rather slim. I'm not sure they have the mass for creating a pommel like this. Is it possible it might be whale tooth instead.
Hi Josť. I don't know if you missed this question or not, but i am still curious. I am just not sure how one can carve a relatively chunky kakatau pommel out of dugong ivory.
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Old 3rd September 2022, 06:06 PM   #23
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Homogeneous steel in my opinion, have an uniform structure and composition. So it can correspond to only modern steel, or steel coming from High furnace (cast iron that is heated to lose carbon and make steel).

Japanese sword of extremely good quality, are almost considered homogeneous steel. The bloomed steel, heterogeneous at the origin, is so much folded that it's almost homogeneous.

But, all the blades coming from bloomed steel are forge folded, and considered heterogeneous in composition.
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Old 4th September 2022, 04:00 PM   #24
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I fully agree, Julien! Sharp and well-lit close-ups would be great.

Actually, Jose's piece seems to exhibit enough activity making it a candidate for possibly being laminated...

Regards,
Kai
Here's some pics...I only used the "macro" mode on my mobile phone camera though, and the shots appear somewhat dark even with adequate lighting...hoping they'll still offer clues.
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Old 4th September 2022, 07:38 PM   #25
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There is another possibility that occurs to me years later - could what I have be hippo ivory, because the grain structure is not elephant.
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Old 4th September 2022, 10:54 PM   #26
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Hi XasteriX ( )
In my opinion, some of the visible flaws would indicate a forge folded structure.
Did you do the etch on it ? (it seems to me from the quench line quite discernable on your above picture that it was etched).
I think it could be worth to open a window on some part and to etch it again. Could show us more.

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Old 5th September 2022, 01:07 AM   #27
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Hi Jose,
In my opinion, some of the visible flaws would indicate a forge folded structure.
Did you do the etch on it ? (it seems to me from the quench line quite discernable on your above picture that it was etched).
I think it could be worth to open a window on some part and to etch it again. Could show us more.
Hallo just to clarify: that's my kris- Jose's kris is different I'll etch it again as you suggested though. The previous etch on it was a side-effect of cleaning it via white vinegar (it originally came to me partly rusted).
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Old 5th September 2022, 03:52 AM   #28
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In the tip of Xasterix's kris blade it does look like laminaton. Sometimes an etch will not reveal this because the steels are too close in carbon content, but etching will usually bring most of them out.

Also it looks like the groves once had silver inlay.
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Old 5th September 2022, 03:46 PM   #29
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There is another possibility that occurs to me years later - could what I have be hippo ivory, because the grain structure is not elephant.
Can you show us some close-ups of the pommel. It could be hippo or possibly whale tooth. I was just remarking about your original statement as seacow because i don't believe dugong tusks have enough girth to be able to carve such a pommel from it. It certainly looks like some kind of ivory though. Close-ups might help answer your question.
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Old 6th September 2022, 09:49 AM   #30
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Finally got to etch and take better close-ups of my kris blade:
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