SOLD 19 9/16" Carbon Steel Bicolano Barong / Barung / Bolo / Itak / Tabak from Tabaco City

SOLD 19 9/16" Carbon Steel Bicolano Barong / Barung / Bolo / Itak / Tabak from Tabaco City
Product Code: Product 351
Product Length: 49.69 cm
Product Weight: 23.00 oz
Reward Points: 0
Availability: Buyer's Payment Pending
Price: $85.00
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These bolos are the Bicolano version of the classic barung. While most associate the barung with the Tausugs, in reality, the barung is commonly used throughout the Visayas and Mindanao as an everyday tool. Bicol is often considered Visayan in culture, and the region’s blades alone can show you the historical ties between Bicol and the Visayas.

Of course, the shape of these bolos is significantly different from the more commonly seen style of barung from Sulu. The bellies on the blade are further forward. This is a working blade from the town of Tabaco City in Albay, which has long been famous for its tabaks, or bolos.

The name of the city actually comes from the tabak. When the Spanish first entered the city, they asked a local man what the name of the city was. Obviously not being a Spanish speaker, he feared the men had come to take his daughter away. He yelled, out, “Tabak ko! Tabak ko!” (my bolo) to his daughter, as he was ready to fight to the death to protect her. The Spanish guys probably went, “Muchas gracias!” and recorded the name of the city down as Tabaco. As far fetched as this might sound, similar stories are in the oral histories of many towns and cities around the Philippines (which actually means King Phillip’s Pines!).

 

This bolo measures in at 19 9/16” overall. The blade is hand forged and well hardened carbon spring steel. It is convex ground: definitely the toughest choice for a working blade. 

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The handle is local hardwood. The wood portion of the handle is 5.5” long, or 6” with the polished carbon steel bolster.

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The blade is 13 9/16” and 9/32” thick at the bolster. The blades from Tabaco are renowned for their hardness and durability: often they are tested for hardness by using them to shave metal off inferior bolos. There are some minor forge marks and several patches of surface pitting on the blade, but this is purely cosmetic. Filipino bolos are traditionally only ‘cleaned up’ when sharpened and allowed to gain a patina through use. I have hand polished and waxed the blade to protect it in the meantime.

The blade is 2 3/4” wide at its widest point and the balance point is 4” in front of the bolster: this is a very weight-forward bolo (as it should be).

The blade of course needs final sharpening before use: this is common to almost all working blades in Southeast Asia.

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This bolo has been stamped by the forge with TABACO, the name of the town.

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Like many blades from this part of the world, the shape of the handle ensures a secure hold when swinging hard.

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The tang is secured at the end of the handle through a rough steel washer. It is peened to prevent movement: a nice feature you don’t find everywhere in the Philippines.

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This bolo weighs 1 lb 7 oz. $85.

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