Moro Tuba Knife

Moro Tuba Knife


Code IN47

A rare Moro tuba knife from Mindano, Philipines c. late 1800's to early 1900's. A paper tag on the back of the scabbard ("tagub") states, 

 Old Collection Tag on scabbard, “VAN LEER COL.
acc 6379
orig 11.
Cat. 1336
Philippine T??”

VAN LEER COL.

acc 6379

orig 11.

Cat. 1336

Philippine Is.

[Click picture for full size.]

"Van Leer" may refer to Captain Sam Van Leer, a volunteer officer serving in the Philippines during the "Philippine Insurrection" (Source: "Officers of Volunteers for Service in Philippines", Congressional Edition, Volume 5269, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1908 p.85)

The hilt is 3 inches long, of hardwood, carved in a floral motif that suggests the frond of a fiddle-head fern emerging from the forest floor.  The blade is 8 ¾ inches long, 1 inch wide in the middle, and just over ⅛ inch thick at the hilt with slightest taper towards the tip.  The edge of the blade is straight, sharpened on one side only.  The back side of the blade is convex continuing the curve originating in the hilt.  The scabbard is very light wood yet remains in good condition. it is a single piece with an open area carved to accommodate the blade. The scabbard features a deep notch along the edge side of the blade, helping to secure it in the scabbard.  A pair of very worn woven strings also spans the open side of the scabbard.

From: George Cameron Stone, 
"A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor", 
Courier Corporation, p. 641

From: George Cameron Stone,
"A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor", 
Courier Corporation, p. 641

The tuba knife is a relative of the kerambit which originated in Java, Indonesia and spread throughout the archipelago, Malaysia and to the Philippines.  The kerambit was a weapon of the agrarian peasantry, making it a subject of condescension in Java among the warrior class.  Nevertheless, the kerambit was sometimes carried by warriors as a backup weapon.

The term tuba, with a straight edge, is conflated with the term sanggot ("sickle") which has a pronounced concave blade. The sangot, like the tuba, has Indonesian origins