Dahong palay

Last updated
Dahong Palay
Luzon dahong palay.JPG
A contemporary Dahong Palay, made in Majayjay, Laguna, Philippines. Overall length is 20 inches (50 cm). The hilt is made from carabao horn, and the scabbard is made from narra
Type Sword
Place of origin Philippines
Length18-30 in. (45-75 cm)

Blade  typeSingle-edged, straight bladed, pointed tipped; a normal blade
Hilt  typeFull tang
Scabbard/sheath Wood
Haft  typeWood

The Dahong Palay (also spelled Dahon palay or Dahompalay), literally "rice leaf" in Tagalog, is a single-edged sword from the Philippines, specifically the Southern Tagalog provinces of Batangas and Mindoro. The sword's name could either be a reference to the similarity of its shape to the leaves of rice or to local green snakes "dahong palay", purported to be extremely venomous. [1] [2] The snake is probably green specimens of the Philippine Pit Viper, Trimeresurus flavomaculatus , [3] [4] though it is sometimes identified as various relatively harmless green snakes, like vine snakes. [5] The dahong palay was originally used as a farmer's tool, for clearing thick grass growths. However, during the Philippine revolution of 1896, farmers from Batangas soon came to favor it for its slashing and thrusting "feel". [6]


Physical description

The dahong palay's size is about the same as most Filipino swords such as the kalis, golok, or ginunting, measuring about twenty to thirty inches.


The blade is single-edged and has what is classified as a normal blade pattern that is, it has a curved cutting edge, and a back which is virtually flat at the tip.

The width of the blade is at its fullest at the hand guard, and from there the sharp edge tapers smoothly, with only the slightest curve or "belly" as it moves towards the tip of the sword. In contrast, the back of the blade only begins to curve downward as it nears the hilt, which in turn also curves downwards, completing the "rice leaf" tapering profile of the sword.

The tip of this "rice leaf" profile is an acute and very sharp point, which gives the blade its penetrating capability when used in a thrusting motion. The balance and steep profile of the sword, in turn, gives it its cutting ability when used in a slashing motion.


The sword's full tang is embedded in a long hilt, traditionally made of Kamagong wood. As previously explained, this hilt tilts downwards, contributing to the sword's unique profile. Aside from that, however, the exact shape of the hilt, varies significantly from piece to piece, with the pommel and grip not always distinct parts of the hilt, and a crossguard that isn't present in all pieces. In addition, the dahong palay's origins as an agricultural tool means that the hilts are often simple and practical, rather than ornate as is often the case in the kalis or kampilan.

In history

The dahong palay was initially used for agricultural work since pre-colonial times, and later on, was used for dambana practices as well. As a weapon, the dahong palay was a mainstay during the many conflicts that have plagued the Southern Tagalog region since its first use during the Philippine revolution against the Spanish used by farmer-warriors whenever they could not acquire firearms. It is noted for having been used by Filipino soldiers under the Philippine Commonwealth Army and Philippine Constabulary units and the recognized guerrillas in the region during World War II.

See also

Related Research Articles

A sword is a bladed melee weapon intended for cutting or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

Falchion One-handed, single-edged sword

A falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the modern machete. Falchions are found in different forms from around the 13th century up to and including the 16th century. In some versions the falchion looks rather like the seax and later the sabre, and in other versions the form is irregular or like a machete with a crossguard.

This is a list of types of swords.

Filipino martial arts

Filipino martial arts (FMA) refer to ancient Malay and newer modified fighting methods devised in the Philippines. It incorporates elements from both Western and Eastern Martial Arts, the most popular forms of which are known as Arnis, Eskrima, and Kali. The intrinsic need for self-preservation was the genesis of these systems. Throughout the ages, invaders and evolving local conflict imposed new dynamics for combat in the islands now making up the Philippines. The Filipino people developed battle skills as a direct result of an appreciation of their ever-changing circumstances. They learned often out of necessity how to prioritize, allocate and use common resources in combative situations. Filipinos have been heavily influenced by a phenomenon of cultural and linguistic mixture. Some of the specific mechanisms responsible for cultural and martial change extended from phenomena such as war, political and social systems, technology, trade and practicality.

<i>Jian</i> Chinese double-edged sword

The jian is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. The first Chinese sources that mention the jian date to the 7th century, during the Spring and Autumn period; one of the earliest specimens being the Sword of Goujian. Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 45 to 80 centimeters in length. The weight of an average sword of 70-centimetre (28-inch) blade-length would be in a range of approximately 700 to 900 grams. There are also larger two-handed versions used for training by many styles of Chinese martial arts.

Swordsmanship or sword fighting refers to the skills of a swordsman, a person versed in the art of the sword. The term is modern, and as such was mainly used to refer to smallsword fencing, but by extension it can also be applied to any martial art involving the use of a sword. The formation of the English word "swordsman" is parallel to the Latin word gladiator, a term for the professional fighters who fought against each other and a variety of other foes for the entertainment of spectators in the Roman Empire. The word gladiator itself comes from the Latin word gladius, which is a type of sword.

Kampilan Type of Sword

The kampilan is a type of single-edged sword, traditionally used by various ethnic groups in the Philippine archipelago. It has a distinct profile, with the tapered blade being much broader and thinner at the point than at its base, sometimes with a protruding spikelet along the flat side of the tip. The design of the pommel varies between ethnic groups, but it usually depicts either a bakunawa (dragon), a buaya (crocodile), a kalaw (hornbill), or a kakatua (cockatoo).

Bolo knife Type of Knife or sword

A bolo is a large cutting tool of Filipino origin similar to the machete. It is used particularly in the Philippines, the jungles of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as in the sugar fields of Cuba.

Kalis Type of Sword

A kalis is a type of double-edged Filipino sword, often with a "wavy" section, similar to a keris. Just like the keris, the kalis's double-edged blade can be used for both cutting and thrusting; except that the kalis is much larger than most keris, making it a sword rather than a dagger.

Weapons of Moroland

"Weapons of Moroland" is a plaque or crest containing miniature models of weapons used by warriors from the indigenous peoples of Mindanao in the Philippines. As a souvenir, it is fairly common in gift shops, and is considered a pop culture icon. Displaying the plaque in one's home is one of several indications of "how Filipino" one is. It is jokingly used as a description of resistance to colonialism.

Barong (sword) Type of Sword or knife

The barong is a thick, leaf-shaped, single-edged blade sword. It is a weapon used by Muslim Filipino ethnolinguistic groups like the Tausug, Sama-Bajau, or Yakan in the Southern Philippines.


The gunong is a knife from Mindanao and the Visayas islands of the Philippines. In ancient past, it was called bunong by the Tagalog people. It is essentially a diminutive form of the larger kalis or kris. The gunong serves both as a utility knife and as a thrusting weapon used for close quarter fighting—usually as a last defense. It is most often associated with the Maranao, among whom the gunong was traditionally carried by both sexes, although it exists in other cultures throughout Mindanao and the Visayas. The weapon is generally tucked into the back of a waist sash.

Panabas Type of Sword

The panabas, also known as nawi, is a large, forward-curved sword or battle axe used by certain ethnic groups in the southern Philippines. It can range in size from 2 to 4 feet and can be held with one or both hands, delivering a deep, meat cleaver-like cut. In its heyday, it was used as a combat weapon, as an execution tool, and as a display of power. Occasional use as an agricultural and butchering tool has also been noted.

Cultural achievements of pre-colonial Philippines

The cultural achievements of pre-colonial Philippines include those covered by the prehistory and the early history (900–1521) of the Philippine archipelago's inhabitants, the indigenous forebears of today's Filipino people. Among the cultural achievements of the native people's belief systems, and culture in general, that are notable in many ethnic societies, range from agriculture, societal and environmental concepts, spiritual beliefs, up to advances in technology, science, and the arts.

Bangkung Type of Sword

The bangkung or bangkon, is a short sword originating in the Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines. The bangkung was used primarily by the Moro people of the Sulu and is not associated with Moros in other areas such as Mindanao, although it is sometimes found in coastal regions. The bangkung is a slashing weapon, meant to deliver hacking type blows. While the bangkung is a very effective sword, it was not popular unlike the panabas and the pirah and for this reason it is one of the most rarely found Moro edged weapons. Few were produced and even fewer survive.

Pirah Type of Knife or sword

Pirah or pira is a type of Philippine bolo sword or knife characterized by a heavy blade and a wide tip. It superficially resembles a falchion but is much heavier. It is the traditional weapon favored by the Yakan people of Basilan Island. It usually features a kakatua ("cockatoo") hilt, which among the Yakan is distinctively elongated to function as arm support. Among Cebuano people and other Visayans, a similar sword is also known as the pira, but differs in that it has an acutely pointed tip. Like other bolos, pirah were commonly used as farm implements, in addition to being used in combat.

Balasiong is a Filipino sword used by Muslim Filipino ethnolinguistic groups in the Southern Philippines. It is a type of kalis but differs in that the double-edged blade isn't wavy but instead slightly convex. It also tapers sharply to the tip. The hilt, like in the kalis is shaped like a pistol handle, an element known as the kakatua (cockatoo).

The batangas or batangas malapad, is a sword originating from the Tagalog people of the Philippines. It is a type of bolo that widens near the tip. It is around 24 to 28 in long with a hooked hilt grip.


  1. Dahong Palay by Arturo B. Rotor
  2. Manuel Sastrón (1895). "Filipinas: Pequeños Estudios; Batangas Y Su Provincia". Estab. tipo-lit. delAsilo de huérfanos. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  3. Dong Ampil de los Reyes (March 24, 2008). "Stuck with rice". Kulamnista. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  4. "Pinoywood Central Casting". Pinoywood. February 12, 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  5. Gerry S. Rubio. "Study on snakes, its ecosystem, is best CSC undergrad research". csc.edu.ph. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  6. "Dahon Palay" . Retrieved 2009-02-01.