Silver hilted Luzon Bolo
Region: Luzon, the Philippines
Period: Late 19th century
Materials: Steel, Iron, Silver, Brass, Horn
The Luzon bolo knives:
The ‘bolo’ or in Tagalog ‘Guloc’ is a general type of knife or sword found in the Philippines. Shapes, sizes and names vary in every district and the ‘bolo’ is used as both weapon as utility tool in the dense forests. The term ‘bolo’ is Spanish and means ‘knife’. In Luzon, the Northern region of the Philippines, a small group of high quality examples can be found. Often with engraved blades, elaborately carved horn hilts, silver fittings and horn scabbards with wonderful carved openwork details. Many of these bolo’s are attributed to the ‘Katipunan’ a revolutionary movement which fought against the Spanish colonials to prevail the independence of the Philippines.
Officers and high ranked members carried bolo knives with chiseled blades with brass inlay or silver-plated floral designs. The manufacturing of these knives was most likely manufactured independently in the area of Quezon and Manila, however they were also purchased and ordered by Spanish colonials.
A fine ‘bolo’ which most likely belonged to an officer. The hilt is oval with a segmented buffalo horn grip, laid in with brass wire and decorated with a silver ferrule and pommel cap. The pommel cap shows a decoration of chiseled silver flower petals and has a ball on top where the tang is peened. The blade is well made and in perfect balance for slicing and chopping, while the clipped tip makes it also suitable for thrusting. The left side of the blade is flattened while the right side shows some concaveness on the entire cutting edge. The overal style shows Spanish colonial influence which was often seen in the Luzon area.
Condition: Very good condition, some traces of ware and minor pitting on the blade, missing the leather scabbard.
Hilt length: 16.5cm
Blade length: 38.2cm
Blade spine thickness: 5mm
Total length: 54cm
Provenance: United States private collection.
– The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York (similar blade with different hilt) acc. no.36.25.2897a, b
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