The first notable aspect of this barong sword and sheaf from the Philippines is its patina; it is excellent. Its age is clearly evident. The wood casing has a deep and lustrous glow from age and handling.
It comprises a doubled-edged steel blade shaped as a flattened oval; a wooden scabbard, a carved wooden hilt, and a long silver hilt collar.
The top and tip of the scabbard have been finely carved with the ukkil (‘leaf and vine’) motif (it is pronounced okir on Mindanao). The scabbard comprises two sheets of wood bound together with rattan strips.
The handle, of briarwood, is largely smooth but with a tip carved with ukkil motifs (clear on one side and deficient on the other).
According to Barados (1995, p. 36), the Muslim Tausug people on the island of Jolo, who enjoy what is perceived as higher status among the Sulu peoples, decorated their bladed weapons with the ukkil motif which was usually etched onto mother-of-pearl plaques that were attached to the hilt and scabbard, but if mother-of-pearl was unavailable then they would carve the motifs directly into the wood, as here.
The barong sword here has an excellent patina, but there are also old cracks, scratches to the wood and some losses to the carving. Overall, however, it is in a stable condition.
Barados, D., Land of the Morning: Treasures of the Philippines, San Francisco Craft & Folk Museum, 1995.
Casal, G. et al, The People and Art of the Philippines, UCLA Museum of Cultural History, 1981.