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Old 26th May 2024, 08:57 PM   #1
RobT
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Default Extreme Plamenko?

Hi All,

I picked up this knife the other day at a flea market and can’t decide whether it was intended for fighting, camping, or kitchen. I said to the seller that I was sure that it was from the Philippines but I had never seen anything like it. The seller, who is from the Philippines, confirmed the knife’s origin and said that he bought it from a fellow countryman but didn’t know any special name or specific use for it. For me, the blade sort of looks like some kind of weird plamenko, Although it has a blind tang, the eight sided horn hilt with its eight sided steel ferrule is not at all like the plamenko hilts I have seen. The blade is 9” (22.86cm) long, 2-5/8” (6.66cm) wide at the widest, and 1/8” (3.175mm) thick at the hilt without distal taper. The steel is very rigid and the blade resists flexing even out by the tip. When I bought it, the blade and ferrule were well coated with rust but after an overnight soak in EvapoRust and a quick clean-up with a 3M pad, both the blade and ferrule turned out to be remarkably pit free. The mono-steel blade is very sharp, symmetrically ground, and shows no evidence of differential heat treatment on the edge. There is no sheath which, for a kitchen knife, wouldn’t be unexpected but, I have to say, it is one heck of a mean piece for a kitchen knife. To me, it even seems too aggressive for a camping knife and wouldn’t look out of place as a fantasy gamer character’s side arm.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 27th May 2024, 06:28 AM   #2
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Rob, that's an interesting knife. I note that the main area of use is the distal half of the blade, where it is approximately straight. This suggests to me that it has been used regularly for a specific purpose, and is more likely to be a tool, perhaps for harvesting of fruit. For some reason, bananas come to mind as I think I have seen a similar shaped blade used for that purpose in Mindanao. Then again, I've also seen bananas cut with a sickle shaped knife.

I'm not sure what it was used for, but agriculture would be my first guess. It seems to be quite old and much used.
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Old 27th May 2024, 07:29 AM   #3
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Is the edge grind on only one side?
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Old 28th May 2024, 12:17 AM   #4
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Default Hadn't Considered Farming

Ian,
I hadn’t thought about a possible agricultural use but yes, I can see that as a distinct possibility. The only problem that I have with the tool scenarios (either kitchen or agricultural) is that the hilt and ferrule treatment on my piece is more fancy than one would expect for a relatively small tool knife. I think a plain wood hilt (without faceting) and a ferrule would be more typical. On the other hand, the width of the blade and bulky nature of the hilt (1-1/8, 2.85cm thick) would make concealed weapon carry problematic. Furthermore, the blade on my knife seems too thin to be sturdy enough for weapon or camping use. I also wonder how well the extreme point would hold up either as a weapon or as a tool. I really like this knife but it just doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. I did an online search of banana knives and, save for a guy holding a straight bladed knife that looked a bit like a puukko and another guy holding a Philippine bolo, all the knives I saw were hawksbills or sort of sickle shaped.

Helleri,
The blade is symmetrically ground.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 28th May 2024, 01:51 AM   #5
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Rob, a horn hilt and an iron ferrule are common on Filipino agricultural tools. Both are inexpensive materials in the Philippines. Horn is only a little fancier than wood, but it is more durable than wood in the tropical heat and wet. The biggest threat to horn are insects, which have been chewing away at the hilt you show. Faceting of the hilt is also common on agricultural knives and bolos. It is a simple construct made with a draw knife and enhances the grip relative to a circular cross-section. It is actually easier to make a faceted hilt than a circular smooth one using traditional tools.
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Old 28th May 2024, 05:53 AM   #6
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Is there any indication that the hilt might have been shortened, due to having been damaged? It seems rather awkward/unbalanced in that dimension.

I could see it as a kitchen implement, myself.
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Old 28th May 2024, 06:47 AM   #7
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Bob, given that the blade is 9 in. long, it appears that the hilt is about 4.0 to 4.5 in. in length. That's plenty long enough for most Filipino hands. There is also an option to move the hand forward and place the thumb and forefinger on the blade for more precise work. There is actually a small curved area where the end of the blade meets the ferrule where a finger could rest comfortably when using a pincer grip.
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Old 28th May 2024, 12:32 PM   #8
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In Java, there are variations on the shape of knife that is intended to slice tobacco. I do have several at home, one of it has the awkward handle shape just like this knife (family heirloom, it was belong to my late grandpa). But one of it treated as kind of "pusaka", it had warang in the past, and has handle just like a golok handle.
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Old 20th June 2024, 02:16 AM   #9
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Default It Is A Plamenko

Hi All,

I did an online search using “philippine butcher knife” and, to my complete surprise, got a positive ID. My knife is a plamenko variant called a kutsilyo de busong (bellied knife). A Filipino guy posted a picture and comments on reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/chefknives/..._a_tradtional/). He says that the knife is no longer commonly used domestically but can still be seen in wet markets where it is used for cutting up meat. There is also a U-tube video called “The Original Bolo de Ilonggo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7i19CDrPmU) where another Filipino guy shows and describes a number of knives and bolos. The kutsilyo de busong is the fourth piece described and the narrator uses that name for the knife.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 20th June 2024, 02:48 AM   #10
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Default Literal Busong Translation

Hi All,

This just in. An online search reveals that busong literally means pregnant in Ilonggo.

Sincerely,
RobT
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