Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Moro Armor is Ottoman's

Another reason why Moro armors are not Mindanaoan is the chain linking design. Ottoman metal arts produced different kinds of complex chain designs. Such designs can be seen in Turkish dresses, jewelries, hats and helmets, weaving, decorative arts, drawing and painting, architecture, and even in geometric Arabic calligraphy. The Muslims of Mindanao have no tradition of chain mail and linking designs. Even their jewelries do not have complex designs like the ottomans'.

It would be easy to consider the armor above as Moro due to the inlaid okir leafy designs in gold on the chest part since okir is considered as the traditional art form of the Mindanaon Muslims, specially among the Maranaos. Actually okir is not traditionally unique to Mindanao. Indonesia and Malaysia also have ukir- an art form that uses the same floral and leafy designs found in Mindanaoan drawing, carving, dyeing, architecture, etc.

Okir or ukir is also a proof that supports the idea that the Ottoman Turks reached the Malay archipelago and Sulu. Okir designs are the same arabesque art symbols and images found in Islamic arts of Turkey that can be traced back to Persia. A sixteenth century Ottoman ax below shows leafy curlicues. Leaves and flowers were often used in early Turkish arts because images of humans and animals were forbidden in Islam.

Even the word ukir or ukil is also a linguistic proof suggesting that indeed the Ottoman Turkish and the Madjapahit Hindu cultures met and mixed. There are historical accounts that suggest the participation of the Ottomans in the demise of the Majapahit empire in Java in 1500's. The Sultanate of Demak, the enemy of the Javanese Hindus, had ties with the ottomans.

Ukir or ukil is Tamil for fingernail or claw. No wonder okir floral and leafy designs are in curves, curls, and curlicues. In Mindanao, ukir became okir or okkir. This also proves that the Turkish influence and the people who originally made and wore the Moro armors did reach Sulu and the surrounding areas. Ok is turkish for arrow, tongue, pole, shank or quill. It denotes points, curves, and lines which are present in okir.

Basically, the Turkish ok linguistically changed the Tamil ukir, which resulted to the Mindanaon okir or okkir. The change of uk to ok is significant since in Malay and Philippine languages, the u sound is not changeable or replaceable. In early Cebuano or Visayan languages, o was not even a vowel. There were only three: a, i, and u. The use of o in okir or okkir shows a foreign influence-- in this case, Turkish.

Next: Similarities among armors of Sulawesi, Brunei, Mindanao, and Ottoman Turkey.