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Old 25th May 2014, 03:38 AM   #1
Battara
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Default 1735 Bicol ba'id chopper

Greetings,

I got this little beauty a while back. Confirmation from Nacho and Migueldiaz, I believe this to be a ba'id, a "chopper" from Bicol. It is dated "1735 AD" on the ferrule with dark patina inside the engraved date upon deep magnification.

As far as I know, we have not seen a piece this early.

The hilt is made of carved horn with the tang going through the hilt (see pictures). The quality ferrule is brass, and the mounts are silver with silver nails. I believe the pommel to be a form of aso, a dog/dragon.

You can see the shape of the blade. Engravings are on one side only, and there are 2 grooves on top, ending with a bird and flower. There is a lot of pitting on the blade, especially on the back, but you can still see laminations in the blade. In fact, the distill end of the blade where it is concave, it looks like to me that there is an inner core of steel surrounded by other steel.

These first pictures are as I got it, half of the silver mounts remaining, and many nails missing.
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Old 25th May 2014, 03:48 AM   #2
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Now here is the piece after my restorations. I based these on what was already there, and on the pin holes present and where they were placed.

I did the silver mounts in sterling silver sheet, and had to make roughly 34 silver nails by hand. After that, I saw evidence of lamination, so I etched it and found it as well as being surprised by a core.
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Old 25th May 2014, 03:50 AM   #3
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Finally here are some close ups of the blade:
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Old 25th May 2014, 09:34 AM   #4
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Wow, what a beautiful chopper! And the age! Never have seen such a beautiful piece. Are there other documented choppers like this? For which use have been such a nice piece; pure representation?

Jose, you really need a new camera!

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 25th May 2014, 04:08 PM   #5
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Jose, What a rare and wonderful find !!! I have never seen another exactly like this before though I have seen one other Philippine chopper with the exact same blade shape only minus the fullers but it was fitted with a much planer hilt. Excellent restoration work as usual. I do see that the small retaining plate where the tang extends through the hilt is still missing. Do you think that it would have been made of silver to match the rest of the more decorative bits, or possibly steel or brass for more strength? Could you possibly post the dimensions of this piece for future reference. My sincere congratulations to you on not only having the good fortune in finding such a rare piece, but also on the great restoration work that you have done to preserve it for later generations to admire.

Best,
Robert
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Old 25th May 2014, 04:22 PM   #6
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well done.......................jimmy
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Old 25th May 2014, 05:00 PM   #7
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That is a seriously beautiful thing Josť.
Any thoughts on who engraved the date or why? Seems likely it would have been a European hand, especially with the addition of "AD", which i assume is "Anno Domini" (though i suppose it could be someone's initials). If this is a date of collection i suppose the piece might even be a little older.
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Old 26th May 2014, 02:36 AM   #8
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The dimensions are from ears to the end of the blade is roughly 11 inches and the width of the blade at the front where the crescent is measures roughly 2 3/8 inches. It is a very heavy piece too.

David on your note on the date inscription, by this time there was a lot of Spanish influence when it came to European engraving and in the mid and northern parts of the Philippines under Spanish rule, Filipinos were taught the arts of European engraving. Of course it is also possible that a Spanish hand did this for a subsequent Spanish owner of this or Filipino data as well.

Again thank you folks for your feedback. Took a while in between working on other people's jobs.

On other note: Robert, there may have been a silver plate on top of the exposed round tang sticking out between the ears. The only problem is that I don't see any nail holes to indicate one was present. I will leave this alone for now until I see something that proves otherwise (nail holes, research, etc). If you folks come up with any, please enlighten me........
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Old 26th May 2014, 11:36 AM   #9
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Hi Jose, I would guess that the butt plate would have been a small piece of either silver or brass. It would have been fit over the round end of the tang and would have rested against the shoulder were it has been filed from square to round. The cross pattern on the very end of the tang would have been made by a small chisel and was meant to expand the end of the tang to secure the plate. By looking at the photos I would guess the the plate might have been kind of egg shaped with the whole drilled toward the center of the wider end. I do not believe that any nails were ever used to help hold the plate in place, but that it was held in place only by the expansion of the metal caused by the cross pattern being stamped into the end. I would also think that to make the plate more decorative it would have been incised with line patterns to match the ones carved into the horn around it. JMHO.

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Robert
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Old 26th May 2014, 04:17 PM   #10
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Agree with Robert,

there has been most proable a butt plate. But I think this will be a difficult undertaking to replace this butt plate since the construction is like Robert explained. But maybe this plate can be glued.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 8th June 2014, 07:22 AM   #11
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After your advice and my consultation with Miguel Diaz, I designed and made a plate for the top based on the floral motifs already present. I did have to make 3 silver nails to pin it down to the top, but made a hole to integrate the tang into the design, close to what it may have been.

Miguel Diaz also thinks that the "s"s on the blade probably represent nagas (which I agree) and the top plate in the form of a triangle is to represent a mountain, sacred to our ancestors.
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Old 8th June 2014, 09:32 AM   #12
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Look good! And the pictures good as well!

And again, what a beautiful chopper!

I have asked in up already, are there other ba'id choppers to show?

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 8th June 2014, 08:35 PM   #13
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Great work Jose, now the top of his head doesn't look naked.
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Old 9th June 2014, 12:46 AM   #14
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Thank you. Yeah - not bald anymore.

As far as I and some PI collectors know, this may be the only one. There may be other collectors and museums with these and don't know it. What we have seen are the decedents of these pieces.
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Old 9th June 2014, 03:05 AM   #15
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Jose, as you are referring to this as a "chopper" would I be wrong (because of its small size) in assuming that it was intended for chopping betel nut?

Best,
Robert
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Old 9th June 2014, 02:56 PM   #16
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I remember when you got this Jose. It wasn't bad then, but you have really made it "pop" with your restorations.

Working and fitting all those small silver pieces could not have been an easy chore.

Really stunning!
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Old 11th June 2014, 01:28 AM   #17
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Thank you Charles.

Robert, I think that if it were for betel nut it would be much smaller, since most of the betel nut knives I have seen are small, much smaller. However, this size and weight might indicate a ceremonial piece for sacrifice. But this is just pure speculation. I have seen others of later manufacture but the same region of the same size and are not for sacrifice. I will therefore stick with the common usage for now.......
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