Antique Philippine Kalis Wavy Bladed Sword
AGE: – Possibly 18th – early 19th Century
CONSTRUCTION: – Steel & wood
BLADE LENGTH: – 54.5cm
TOTAL LENGTH:- 70cm
WEIGHT: – 800gms
Antique Philippine Kalis Wavy Bladed Sword also referred to as a Moro Keris is a traditional Weapon with a double-edged blade similar to the Javanese Keris but differing in that the Kalis is a sword rather than a dagger. There is a small chip on one side of the hilt where the two sides meet.
The most common blade on the Kalis is those which are straight from the tip but wavy near the handle, although those with full straight or full wavy blades also exist.
This kalis sword may have a possible connection to Admiral Horatio Nelson. We have endeavoured to research the wording on the sword’s hilt which mentions Admiral Nelson and would make the assumption that the kalis likely found their way to Australia through a descendant of Lord Nelson, our research indicates that a nephew of Lord Nelson was granted land in N.S.W in Australia.
Our Research into how this Kalis sword may have found its way to Australia
The Matcham Estate was a grant of 2,560 acres to Charles Horatio Nelson Matcham, a nephew of Lord Horatio Nelson. Charles was born in 1806 and died on 11th March 1844 in Bookham, NSW, Australia. He is the son of George Matcham and Kitty Nelson who was the daughter of Lady Hamilton and Lord Horatio Nelson’s illegitimate daughter Horatia)
Charles Horatio Nelson Matcham left England in 1828 as a cabin passenger aboard the SURRY and arrived in Sydney on 22 Jan 1829 as a settler. The Matcham Estate was a grant of 2,560 acres to Charles Matcham of the Murrumbidgee River who was promised the land as a primary grant and authorised to take possession from 18 October 1831.
We are unable to decipher the writing fully due to damage to the parchment but what we can make out is that the style of writing is highly likely to be of the period:
The words we can decipher are: “……… ……. …….. present from the ……… ……… Timorese??? to Admiral Lord Nelson”.
Admiral Nelson was never recorded visiting Timor, but he did have his first taste of action in the Indian Ocean where he contracted Malaria and was repatriated back to England. Whether he was gifted this keris during this stint is unknown, but just one of the possibilities.
Another guess is that Captain Bligh’s explorations prior to the battle of Copenhagen in 1805 in which he served under Admiral Nelson took him to Timor in 1787 after the famous mutiny when his crew placed him in an open boat with 18 companions and meagre rations navigated his way to Timor, he possibly acquired the kalis in Timor bringing it back to England and gifted it to Lord Nelson.
It is believed that the kalis sword from the Philippines evolved through the influence of Malaysian immigrants who settled in the Philippines several hundred years ago bringing with them the art of metal smelting.
Although the Malay and Indonesian kris was used for both fighting and ceremonial purposes the kalis were generally used as a weapon. The Moro’s redefined and developed their own version of the kris tang to a thicker, longer and more rectangular cylindrical version of the Malay and Indonesian pointed tang which could better withstand the stresses of slashing and edge-to-edge fighting.
Similarly to the Malay and Indonesian keris, the kalis sword was custom-made to suit the status and particular wishes of the individual who requested it. The Moros believed in the existence of spirits and that they could be enticed to reside within objects and people.
To this end, rituals were performed to entice patronage and favour of beneficial spirits by the Moro in the Mindanao regions before going into battle to protect him from his enemies.
The Moro Kris is said to have been from the Gods. The inhabitants of Mindanao were still reeling from the effects of the tumultuous storm that had only just subsided. The deluge had pounded their lands for what seemed to be an eternity of days and nights.
Massive floods swept away everything in their path. The island had become so engorged with water that it actually began to sink. In Cotabato, the waters of the swollen Rio Grande de Mindanao began to recede.
This new day brought forth a few weary residents, who milled about, assessing the damage and making temporary repairs. None of the natives had time to notice the elderly man on the river bank. He had come to pray and to beseech his God for reconciliation on behalf of himself and his people.
An object lingered in the water not being affected by the swift currents of the river and it submerged and lay in the water before him. The object suddenly flew from the water onto the lap of the astonished worshiper. When he had regained his composure, the old man saw that the object was a “Sundang” (Kris sword).
Referenced From the book: “Moro swords” written by Robert Cato