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This sword known as a barong is from the Islamic Sulu islands of the southern Philippines. It has a single-edged blade that has an elongated, leaf shape and which comes to a point. It was used for chopping, slicing and thrusting.
The hilt is of a stylised cockatoo and is decorated with bands of silver, and natural fibre twine.
The wooden scabbard (taguban) has an elongated ‘S’ shape. The top of the scabbard and the chape are both finely carved in low relief with vegetal scrollwork and inlaid with bands of flat mother-of-pearl. (Mother-of-pearl has long been a prominent export from the Sulu archipelago.)
The body of the scabbard is covered with fine bands of wicker or rattan.
The mother-of-pearl and wicker decorations on this barong suggest it was made for presentation.
Related examples are illustrated in Tirri (2003, p. 441), Fernando-Amilbangsa (2005, p. 245) and Casal (1981, p. 175).
The barong is in fine condition. There are no losses, importantly to either the carving or inlay. There is some minor looseness to the canework wound around the scabbard, probably caused by shrinkage. The blade has old, minor rust stains.
Casal, G. et al, The People and Art of the Philippines, UCLA Museum of Cultural History, 1981.
Fernando-Amilbangsa, L., Visual Arts of the Sulu Archipelago, Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2005.
Tirri, A.C., Islamic Weapons: Maghrib to Moghul, Indigo Publishing, 2003.