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Sword Spotlight: the Panabas

October 30, 2017

Sword Spotlight: the Panabas


The Panabas is a large sword that originated from the Philippines. While the Philippines has created dozens of swords and bladed weapons throughout its history, the Panabas is arguably one of the most notable.

The term "Panabas" is a shortened version of the word "pang-tabas," which translates to "chopping tool." This sums up the sword nicely, because unlike most other swords, the Panabas wasn't used strictly as a weapon. It was a versatile tool with a variety of applications. To learn more about the Panabas and how it became known as one of the most widely recognized swords in the Philippines, keep reading.

Panabas Characteristics

As shown in the photo above, the Panabas' design differs from those other traditional swords like the katana. While it also has a curved blade -- like the katana -- the Panabas' handle was often the same length as the blade itself. A typical Panabas featured a 24-inch blade with a 24-inch handle. The general idea behind this design was to provide the user with greater leverage. Since the handle was just as long as the blade, the user could leverage his or her body weight when using the Panabas.

The Panabas was typically stored in scabbard made of wood. These scabbards have since become nearly extinct due to warriors discarding them before battle. Instead, warriors preferred to carry the Panabas by securing it to cloth and wrapping it around their back.

The Panabas was also designed for use with either one or two hands. Normally, however, warriors wielding the Panabas used two hands for extra stopping power.

Construction and Design

The Panabas was designed with laminated steel, allowing for a strong and durable blade that would withstand countless hours of use. While there are several variations, though, most Panabas blades became thicker towards the tip. Around the hilt, for instance, the blade was relatively thin. As it progressed towards the tip, the blade became wider and sometimes even thicker.

Common Uses for the Panabas

The Panabas was used primarily as a cutting weapon. It's often compared to the western battle axe in this regard, as both weapons feature a relatively short but thick blade.

In addition to being used as a weapon, the Panabas was also used as a cutting tool. The large blade proved to be highly efficient at cutting through meats and fish. Furthermore, farmers would use to clear dense brush and vegetation from their land.


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