Moro Kampilan sword
Region: Southern Philippines, Mindanao, Moro People
Period: 19th century
Materials: Steel, Iron, Wood
The ‘kampilan‘ is an iconic sword from the Philippines, especially the Mindanao region in the Southern Philippines. The ‘kamiplan‘ is a traditional fighting sword of the indigenous inhabitants of these areas and was initially used for war and headhunting campaigns. They are generally similar in design, the difference is ethnologically based and varies mostly in the hilts. The most common hilts are the crocodile style hilt, the ‘kakatua’ (cockatoo) and the ‘kalaw‘ (hornbill) type. The latter can be seen on our example here.
As mentioned, this example can be referred to as the ‘kalaw‘ type which represents a hornbill. It was carved out of two pieces of hardwood; a guard and a hilt. The guard is carved in horizontal curved cartouches with a complicated pattern on front facing the opponent. The hilt is slender, well balanced and has a splendid carved pommel decorated with petal motifs on all sides. The guard has a forged iron wavy protection bar.
The blade is straight, single edged and tapers towards the tip. A small protrusion near the rounded tip of the blade stands out and being called a ‘double tip’. The Moro people are known for their outstanding forging techniques which is often shown in the difficult welding structures in their blades.
Condition: Very good condition, some ware on the hilt and loss of the hair tufts.
Hilt length: 26.2cm
Blade length: 77.4cm
Blade spine thickness: 8mm
Total length: 104cm
Provenance: French private collection.
Penn Museum Philadelphia acc. no. 339,819_41-34-23A
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