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PHILIPPINE FORGE GROUP







FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY



CHICAGO
1922



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Field Museum of Natural History r^^^

Departmknt of Anthropology

Chicago, 1922 V' tX—



Leaflet Number 2

The Philippine Forge Group

(Hall 9, Case 21)

The finest headaxes and spear-points made in north-
western Luzon (Philippine Islands) come from Balbala-
sang and the other villages of the upper Buklok, or
Saltan river, just at the boundary between the Tinguian
and Kalinga tribes. It is of interest to note that in this
and in other more or less isolated districts of the
Philippines we find the peculiar method of iron-working,
which is here described, while along the coast it has
vanished, or is of little importance.

The same condition is found in Assam, Burma,
Eastern Madagascar, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and other
islands to the east, making it evident that iron-working
was an ancient art throughout Malaysia, and that it
spread from a common center.

The Tinguian iron-workers do not mine or smelt the
native ore, although there is an abundance in their
territory, but secure the metal from Chinese traders on
the coast. In view of the fact that many of the pagan
tribes of the islands to the south do now, or did until
recently, smelt the ore, it seems altogether probable that
the Philippine tribesman also had knowledge of the
process, but gave it up when trade relations made such
arduous work unnecessary.

The forge here illustrated comes from Inalagan, one
of the small settlements which makes up the community
of Balbalasang ("the town of many maidens"). It stood
in a small structure with grass roof, but without sides
or floor. At one end of such a structure is a bamboo

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2 Field Museum of Natural History

bench, in front of which stands the bellows — two up-
right cylinders made of logs hollowed out. In each of
these is a piston or plunger, at the lower end of which
is a wooden ring packed with corn husks and chicken
feathers. When a plunger is pushed downward in the
cylinder, it compresses the air and forces it out of the
small opening in the base, but when it is drawn up, the
packing collapses and allows it to be raised without
effort. These pistons are worked alternately so that
one is rising, while the other is falling.

Two bamboo tubes, attached to the bellows, conduct
the air into a cylinder of fire clay, and this in turn
carries it into the charcoal fire. These bamboos fit
loosely into the clay cylinder, thus taking the place of
valves and preventing the drawing of the fire back into
the bellows.

Near to the hearth is a stone anvil, while a heavy
stone hammer, a small stone hammer, and pinchers of
the same material complete the outfit. The fire is
lighted, and the operator sitting on the bench raises and
lowers the plungers in the cylinders until the fire burns
brightly; then the smith puts the metal into the coals,
and allows it to remain until it reaches a white heat.
It is then removed and placed on the anvil, where his
helper beats it out with the large hammer. This is a
stone weighing twenty or more pounds, fitted inside the
handles, so that it can be used with both hands. As a
rule, it is swung between the legs, and is allowed to
strike the metal as it descends, but some of the men
raise it above the shoulder and strike a much more
powerful blow. If two pieces of metal are to be welded
together, as is often the case when broken cauldrons are
used, they are laid one overlapping the other, and are
held together with damp fire clay. In this condition
they are placed in the fire and heated, being then

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The Philippine Forge Group 3

beaten together. It often takes several firing's to bring
about a perfect weld.

After the initial shaping, the smith completes the
work with the small hammer, and the blade is again
inserted in the fire and brought to a white heat. Then
the smith withdraws it and watches it intently, until the
white tone begins to turn to a greenish-yellow, when he
plunges it into water. The tempered blade is now
smoothed down with sandstone, and is whetted to a keen
edge. Headaxes, spear heads, adzes, a few knives, and
the metal ends for the spear-shafts are the principal
products of the forge.

The blades are by no means of equal temper or per-
fection, but the smiths of the Tinguian-Kalinga border
villages seldom turn out poor weapons and, as a result,
their spears and headaxes have a wide distribution over
northwestern Luzon.

The material and data for this group were gathered
by F. C. Cole in connection with the Robert F. Cummings
Philippine Expedition during the years 1907-08. The
modeling is the work of Clyde Gardner.



REFERENCES TO IRON-WORKING IN MALAYSIA

Cole, Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao (Field Museum of
Natural History, Anthropological Series, Vol. XII, No. 2,
pp. 82-83).

Hose and McDougall, Pagan Tribes of Borneo, Vol. I, pp. 194-5.

Raffles, History of Java, Vol. I, pp. 192-3.

Mardsen, History of Sumatra, 3d ed., p. 181.

Ferrais, Burma, p. 105.

Rockhill, T'oung Pao, Vol. XVI, 1915, pp. 268-269.

Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. Ill, p. 299;
Vol. XL, p. 48.

Beccari, Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo, pp. 282-283.

F. C. Cole.



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Online LibraryFay-Cooper ColePhilippine forge group → online text (page 1 of 1)