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Old 25th January 2021, 06:51 PM   #1
shayde78
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Default Sickle for comment - tool or weapon?

Hello all -

I wanted to offer for comment the below sickle and read your opinions of this being solely for agricultural use or, was it intended to serve as a weapon. Of course, I fully acknowledge the line between these applications is nebulous at best. A garden rake or shovel can make a serviceable weapon in a pinch. However, some are more purpose designed to serve in a martial capacity.

For starters, I searched through the archives here, and didn't see anything that looked like this. Perhaps because it is indeed a simple tool. Of the example below, it is approximately 21" long, is sharpened on both the inside AND outside edges, has damage to both of these edges suggesting contact with something harder than vegetation.

The grip, and the 'ricasso' of the blade are wrapped with rattan. The part on the blade is particularly ornately done (to my untrained eye). I'm not sure if this is something that the owner would have taken the time to do for a tool. However, given that a person would likely use a tool far more often than a weapon, it is entirely possible that such attention to detail would be paid.

The blade itself is of an octagonal cross section. This seems like a very robust design for something that would be typically used on soft vegetation.

I think this matches some of the rattan work I see on pieces from South-east Asia. It has the tang peened in a manner I've seen on Central/East Asian cooking knives (although I'm sure it isn't unique to that part of the world).

Finally, if anyone has any insights into the collection/ascension numbers on the blade. I'm doubtful that there is consistency in how such numbers are used, but on the off-chance someone knew how to interpret, that could help to at least narrow down a time period. My guess, based on the oxidation of the blade, the condition of the rattan, and the overall robust construction is this is no younger than the early 20th century, perhaps late 19th. To account for buyer bias, you probably need to knock off 20 years from my estimate!

As always, I eagerly await your impressions, and thank you for taking the time!
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Old 25th January 2021, 08:06 PM   #2
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I would say that you have a Budu sickle knife from Congo there.
Compare "panga na visu" from Zirngibl & Kubetz, page 152, item 351. Also here you can see a similar piece: http://www.africanarms.com/gallery?budu-37-cm
The rattan or plant fiber looks indeed a little bit like SEA work but the metal wrapping is typical Central Africa, so I have had a look inside "panga na visu"! The local name is "alala".
The nicks suggest that it is a weapon.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 25th January 2021, 09:16 PM   #3
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And here the one fom panga na visu in comparison with your example.
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Old 26th January 2021, 10:16 PM   #4
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I don't see why this thing couldn't serve equally well as a farm tool or a weapon. I'm thinking of its Okinawan equivalent, with has a martial technique developed for it (used singly or in each hand) practiced to this day. Ditto for the grub hoe, also used for fighting in that culture and in the Philippines.
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Old 27th January 2021, 02:11 AM   #5
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Brilliant work, Sajen!
Two comments, though:
- there is no wire wrap (not that it matters as I agree it appears to match the African type you found)
- I can't find other examples of "alala" when I search online. Is there another name that may apply?

Thanks much for the impressive detective work!
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Old 27th January 2021, 10:38 PM   #6
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Hello Shayde,

you are welcome.

I don't write wire wrap, I speak from metal wrap, or I am wrong what I see on these two pictures?
BTW, the way how the tang is peened is as well typical Central African!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 28th January 2021, 02:49 AM   #7
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Those wraps are actually more rattan (vs metal), although much more simply wrapped than the sections of rattan on the blade. Easy to confuse given the poor quality of my camera!
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Old 28th January 2021, 02:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
I don't see why this thing couldn't serve equally well as a farm tool or a weapon. I'm thinking of its Okinawan equivalent, with has a martial technique developed for it (used singly or in each hand) practiced to this day. Ditto for the grub hoe, also used for fighting in that culture and in the Philippines.
Yep - I agree, in general. Although, the example featured in this thread seems heavier and more stout than what would make sense for a strictly agricultural tool. It would be tiring to swing this for 8-10 hours a day. However, perhaps it made a lot of sense to have your tool able to serve as a functional weapon. You don't always get to choose when you're attacked, and the weapon at hand is more useful than the one you left at home.
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Old 28th January 2021, 06:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayde78
Those wraps are actually more rattan (vs metal), although much more simply wrapped than the sections of rattan on the blade. Easy to confuse given the poor quality of my camera!
Beg to disagree, that's flat copper wound around above the rattan. That stuff was a common trade item in Africa back in the day.
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Old 29th January 2021, 12:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Beg to disagree, that's flat copper wound around above the rattan. That stuff was a common trade item in Africa back in the day.
Ha! My eyes are evidently worse than my camera! Shawn and Rick, you are correct. Those are thin, flat strips of copper. When I realized this last night, I was wondering if this copper would ever be pulled off and used as currency? This would turn the hilt into a wallet or purse, of sorts.
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Old 30th January 2021, 02:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayde78
Ha! My eyes are evidently worse than my camera! Shawn and Rick, you are correct. Those are thin, flat strips of copper. When I realized this last night, I was wondering if this copper would ever be pulled off and used as currency? This would turn the hilt into a wallet or purse, of sorts.
Hello Shayde,

I don't know who Shawn is! I see on your pictures directly under the plant fiber a binding most possible from irion, test it by magnet, I bet that I am correct.
Down from the handle I see renants from a former longer copper binding.
The plant fiber binding isn't rattan IMVHO.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 3rd February 2021, 05:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen

The plant fiber binding isn't rattan IMVHO.
Sajen, sorry, but I don't understand why you say that in your opinion that is not rattan ... to me it appears that there are various species of plants called "rattan" also in Africa, and that these plants are used in the same way as in Asia.
Am I wrong?
On the other hand, I believe that it can be said with certainty that it is not an agricultural tool, in consideration of the vegetable intertwining, which certainly has no functional purposes, but only aesthetic purposes, and which is in a position such as to be easily destroyed during the work. I think it is more likely a ritual object, in fact the use of scythes is very frequent and documented, in the course of dances and rituals connected to the harvest, and consequently to fertility.
Saluti.
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Old 3rd February 2021, 06:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duccio
Sajen, sorry, but I don't understand why you say that in your opinion that is not rattan ... to me it appears that there are various species of plants called "rattan" also in Africa, and that these plants are used in the same way as in Asia.
Am I wrong?
Hello Duccio,

So far I know is the real rattan from South-East-Asia and coming from a palm, Calamus Rotang, see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calamus_rotang

Best regards,
Detlef
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