Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1902 Moro datu
Subjectdatu chief
Culture: Tausug, Magindanao Moro
Setting: Spanish, American wars, Mindanao-Sulu 1851-1913
Object: swords


* Cato 1996 p34 
"The barong (or 'barung', as it is actually pronounced in the Tausug dialect) is a single-edged, pointed, cleaver-like sword.  It features a laminated, leaf-shaped blade which is generally from thirteen to eighteen inches in length.
​    "While the kris sword was commonly found throughout the Morolands, the barung was used only in and around the regions that comprised the Sulu Sultanate.  It was not widely known or distributed in most of the Mindanao areas.
​    "[...] The Tausugs of the Island of Sulu have a chauvanistic feeling for the barung that is quite similar to the preference exhibited by the Maguindanao and Maranao Moros for their special weapon, the kampilan."

* Wiley 1996 p120
"The leaf-shaped barong was traditionally an indispensable part of the Moro's attire.  They are carried in flat wooden scabbards decorated with elegant carvings, and carried tucked in the front of the sarong (waist cloth).  Barong were often an accompaniment of the Moro while running juramentado.  ... [B]arong were often etched with the following Arabic slogans: 'There is no god but Allah,' and 'This barong has killed a score of enemies and must not be drawn from the scabbard except with intent to kill.'
​    "Barong often range from sixteen to eighteen inches in length, are nearly six inches wide at the center, single-edged, guardless, and have simple pommels for fighting and elaborately stylized ones for ceremonial purposes.  Whether simple or elaborate, the handle of the barong is stylized after the kakatua (cockatoo beak) which prevents it from accidentally slipping out of the wielder's bloody hand during combat.  The slashing capabilities of the barong are difficult to match and are said to have the capacity to sever a man's arm with one blow.  Barong are the favored weapon for close quarter combat among Tausug, Samal, and Yakan warriors."

* Fryer 1969 p84
"Barong  An edged weapon with broad leaf-shaped blade about 16 inches in length, carried by the Moros of North Borneo and others in that area.  The guardless hilt has an intricately carved angled pommel usually with ornamental terminals.  It may be of wood, horn or ivory, with a silver or brass ferrule."

* Arnold 2011 p47
"[T]he barong [was] a short, leaf-shape bladed knife usually sixteen to eighteen inches long.  Single-edged and deliberately forged to be heavy, the barong was a superb chopping weapon.  Easily concealed beneath a warrior's robes, in one flashing stroke the razor-sharp barong could slice off a head before the victim realized his peril."

* Tarassuk & Blair 1979 p74-75
"barong  A term of the same common origin as parang for a knife used mostly by the Moro tribes in Borneo, Sulu, and Mindanao. Its heavy, spatulate blade is usually single-edged, but there are examples of barongs that are double-edged for about half of their 40 cm. (16 in.) blades. This well-balanced knife has no guard, and the hilt may be of wood, horn, or silver, often worked with ivory. The hilt of a war barong, however, is made of black horn and kept severly simple.
    "One of the main characteristics of a barong is its pommel, which is formed into two lateral extensions resembling the head of an exotic bird or animal. Invariably the flat, wooden scabbard is elaborately carved."


* Stone 1934 p159-160
"CAMPILAN, KAMPILAN.  A Malayan sword, apparently originally the national weapon of the Sea Dyaks of Borneo, which has been adopted by the Moros of Sulu and Mindanao.  It has a carved hilt, usually of wood, with a forked pommel and guard of the same material as the hilt, with wire staples projecting from it on one or both sides.  It is usually decorated with tufts of hair dyed either red or black.  It has a long, straight, single-edged blade much wider at the point than at the hilt, frequently with a scroll-shaped projection from the back near the point.  The usual scabbard is made of two pieces of wood shaped liek the blade and only held together by a fastening at the lower end and another a short distance above it.  These allow the two parts of the scabbard to spring apart sufficiently to admit the blade, the lower end of which is much wider than the upper end of the scabbard.  This peculiar construction of the scabbard make it possible to clear the blade without drawing it; as when a blow is struck the upper lashing is cut and the scabbard drops off.  This makes the campilan a favorite for court wear.  It would have been an unforgivable offense for a subject to have appeared at court with a bare weapon, but there were occasions when an attack was likely immediately after leaving; on such occasions a sword that would clear itself had obvious advantages."  [CONTRA Macaraeg 2009 p47.]

* Arnold 2011 p47
"The traditional weapons of choice for the men of Mindanao was the kampilan, a single-edged war sword up to forty inches in length carried in a special breakaway scabbard.  A peaceful-seeming Moro could turn into a fanatical assailant in a twinkling of an eye merely by striking the kampilan while it was still in the scabbard to cut the binding holding the two halves together, thereby freeing the weapon.  [CONTRA Macaraeg 2009 p47.]  The ensuing two-handed stroke was deadly, cleaving through skull and  bone before a startled victim had time to react."

* van Zonneveld 2001 p60
A long sword usually held in both hands.  Generally speaking, the blade has a straight back and edge, diverging from each other towards the point.  Here the back slants towards the edge.  On the slanting part we often see a protrusion or spike.  The hilt has a large upper part.  It is often decorated by means of hair (red or black), inlay and carvings.  A large symmetrical cross-piece is found at the hilt's base.  The scabbard is usually made of two flat pieces of wood or bamboo.  Both parts are held together by means of rattan strips, only on the lower part.  When the blade is drawn from the scabbard, the two parts bend apart to allow the kampilan to be removed.  Therefore, the entire scabbard need not be of the same width as the broadest part of the blade. 
​    "In the Philippines we find a type of scabbard made of a single piece of wood with a grip in the centre.  This scabbard can thus also serve as a shield."

* Fryer 1969 p85
"Campilan  A Borneo sword with somewhat large hilt, the crosspiece of the same material as the grip adn forked pommel.  The lattter is often decorated with hair tufts.  The blade is single-edged and widens towards the tip."

* Brody 2010 p67 (describing a kampilan in the drawing "Formidable Knives of Filipino Warriors," Evening Journal February 1899)
"The ominous nature of this weapon goes beyond its sharp and dangerous appearance; here a symbolic manifestation of a maimed body -- a lock of disembodied hair -- is present."

Kalis / Kris

* Demetrio 1991 p593 (quoting Wilkes 1906 p156)
"The People Of Sulu Of The 1880s Used Kris As Standard Weapon.
The kris is a weapon in which the people of Sulu take great pride; it is of various shapes and sizes, and is invariably worn from infancy to old age; they are generally wavy in their blades, and are worn in wooden scabbards, which are neatly made and highly polished."

* Arnold 2011 p46-47
"The kris was about twenty inches, akin to a short sword by Western standards, and was well balanced, featuring a double-edged steel blade.  Warriors used the kris to slash rather than thrust."

* Demetrio 1991 p593 (quoting Casino 1978 p1704)
"Few persons realize that the kris comes in two basic shapes -- the sinuous and the straight.  In Sulu the classical, or wavy type is called kalis seko (elbow) and the straight is kalis tulid (straight).  The sinuous types have subtypes according to the number of elbows, or bends, in the blade.  Preference is given to blades with odd-numbered bends -- three, five, seven or nine.  Each has its own peculiar name.  In some types the lower half of the blade is straight and the upper half sinuous."

* Demetrio 1991 p593 (quoting Majul 1978 p1168)
"In general there are two types of kris, the wavy and the straight.  In the first (called kalis-seko by the Sulu), one of the cutting edges has one more wave than the other, because no wave crest is directly opposite another.  The waves give the sword a serpentine quality.  In some instances the waves are few in number, say three, and give the kris a sort of flame shaped outline.  They all inflict horrible wounds."

* van Zonneveld 2001 p133
A heavy type of keris to stab or cut with  The blade has a round tang.  In order to prevent the blade from turning in the hilt when used as a cutting weapon, one or two strips (sigi) are attached to hold the blade firmly to the hilt. This connection is characteristic of the sundang.
​    "The blade has two sharp sides.  It may be either waved or straight.  It can be smooth, or have ribs of channels lengthwise.  Its point is blunt and its base is asymmetrically broad.  The least protruding side has a stylised elephant trunk, the other side has a notched rim.  The hilt has a straight, round lower part often wound around with thread or metal wire.  Its knob usually has the shape of a stylised bird's head.  The scabbard has a broadened upper part into which the blade's base fits." [NOTE: Contrast Frey 1998 below.]

* Frey 1998 plate 10(c)
"The term sundang should not be used for Moro krises, as in the Philippines the word denotes an agricultural tool."

* Fryer 1969 p88
"Moro Kris  A distinctive form of kris used by the Moros of Mindanao, Philippine Islands.  It is larger than usual, with broad double-edged wavy blade of even width.  The hilt often has an elaborately carved wood or ivory pommel of recurved form, similar to a barong."

* Cato 1996 p64-65 
"Each Moro group had its own specific set of rituals to win the favor and patronage of beneficient spirits.   In the Maguindanao regions, for instance, where such spirits are known as 'jens', warriors sought to persuade the jens to enter themselves and their krises before going to battle.  The installation of the jen helped a warrior to align himself with Allah and the positive spiritual forces of the universe.
​    "An elaborate ceremony was needed to facilitate the induction.  Symbolic objects such as thread, oil, water, swatches of red adn black cloth, grass, stones and sand were all needed to invite jen to perform its duties as desired.  After assembling and arranging these items in the prescribed fashion, the warrior unsheathed his kris and cleansed it with a special elixir made partly of oil or water.  He then sat cross-legged, with eyes open, and recited a prayer asking the jen to come and reside within him and his weapon.
​    "More prayers were recited as he slowly ran his finger along the flat surface of the blade, from the hilt to the point.  In so doing, the warrior specfically requested that the jen enter the blade for the purpose of killing his enemies.  This ritual stroking of the blade was repeated until the blade mysteriously softenend and could be easily bent -- the signal that the jen had passed into the weapon.  Thereafter the blade would become rigid once again, with an even greater hardness than before.
​    "Following the induction, the jen was believed to lie dormant within the combatant's body and his kris.  When the time for battle came, he had merely to make a small magical sound and the spirit awakened immediately, ready for action.  However, if any portion of the kris became detached, the jen would depart at once."

* Cato 1996 p83-84 
"The largest danganan krises (and sometimes kampilans) were carried on retainers' shoulders in processions when, for instance, a sultan or datu paid a call on another important Moro personage. (This custom is also observed by some of the tribes in Java and other regions of the Malay world.) The purpose of these huge danganans was to express the awesome power and prestige of the owner."

* Ghiringhelli 2007 p44 
"This keris has an exceptionally big size in consideration of its function of representing the Sultan during ceremonies and public processions in case he couldn't attend them. The keris was sent by the Sultan himself in his stead."


* Crossing the Sulu Seas 1996 film [Additional Scenes 4: Cotabato]
"The panabas or tabas literally means 'for chopping or hacking.'  ...[T]he panabas was used in public executions of the past."

* Stone 1934 p480
"PANABAS.  A kind of Moro jungle knife said to be used for executions.  It has a long, straight hilt without any guard.  The blade is widest near the point and bends sharply backward close to the handle."