Let’s travel to regions with a less known swordmaking culture – The Philippines!

The Spanish claimed and colonized the Philippine archipelago around 1565. The Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legaspi was the first to set a Spanish foot on these lands. Later, about 1543, Ruy López de Villalobos named two islands of archipelago (Samar and Leyte) Las Islas Filipinas. This goes after King Philip II of Spain.

When the Spanish arrived to the Philippine islands, they discovered that these places are not as wild as they imagined. Reach culture and technology was discovered to be quite advanced.

The Filipinos were very skilled in making a specific type of cold steel weapons. They used to forge of bronze and even iron. Their war inventory was rich in portable cannons of different size.

Moros

If you are fond of rare swords then you undoubtedly have heapanoplierd about the Philippine Moro Weapons. The Moro name comes from Muslim tribes situated mainly on the Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao Island in Southern Philippines. There are known four major Moro tribes: the Samal (Zamboanga), the Maguidanao (Mindanao), the Maranao (Mindanao), and the Tausug (Sulu).
The Maro tribes were the most war prone tribes on the Philippine islands. This is why they developed a wide weapon inventory which distinguished by its high efficiency. Some of the Moro edged weapons are: Tombak, Golok, Kampilan, Barong, Kris, Panabas, Parang Pida, etc.

Sword ceremonial

The notorious sword makers of Philippine swords were Piray, Viray, etc. Their sword forging tradition can be even called ‘school’, as it lasted for centuries in many parts of the Philippines. The swordmakers created a special social category forming guilds of smiths. Most of them followed the Piray lineage.

The interesting and distinguishing fact about Philippine sword makers was that they also were astrologers who waited for auspicious conjunctions of planets before proceeding with each elaborate phase of the sword making ritual. Thus, a sword crafting could last a very long period. It is not actually a secret that sword making was considered a ritual. Another completing ritual was passage of the sword from the maker to the owner.

Weapon diversity

Blades …

Kampilan Kris
kampilan kris

Machined arm

lantaka-suluLantaka (swivel gun) one of the most awesome weapon of the Filipinos. When conquering some of the Philippines islands, the Spanish had faced a much trouble fighting against lantakas. Later they included Moro type of lantakas on native ships.

These guns were placed on flexible swivels which was not characteristic for Spanish technology. This thought-out construction allowed to quick-track a moving target. The lantaka’s construction featured two revolving barrels. It is curious to know that these guns eventually reached South America and are considered ancestors of the Gatling gun.

Armor

The Filipinos have also elaborated efficient armor for use on the battlefield. And again the Moro tribes were the ones to develop it! They had an armor type which covered the entire body from the top of the head to the toes.

Originalities

Some of the Filipino weaponry was quite unusual! For example, one type of weapon was the prototype of the modern yoyo! It functioned in the following way: the weapon was flung at an opponent and then it returned to its owner.

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