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Author Topic:   Klewang Timor by Valiant Co. -- review
ruel
Senior Member
posted 05-20-2002 21:07     Click Here to See the Profile for ruel   Click Here to Email ruel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Valiant Co. of Australia had a sale back in March, and I picked up three pieces to sample their quality. Due to various mishaps, I didn't actually get them in my hands till yesterday.

By fortunate coincidence, yesterday was the official Independence Day of East Timor, and one of the pieces was a Timorese klewang, so it arrived just in time.

* HILT:
The grip has an akward shape but is accurate; nearly identical ones are pictured in the book Indonesia in Focus. It takes some getting used to, but it can be swung without too much discomfort. Again, if historical accuracy is our standard, then VC has certainly succeeded.

You can't really see from the pic, but the pommel has holes for the attachment of headhunting victims' hair (again, see the photo in Indonesia in Focus). The same embellishment associated with those other two famous head-taking swords of the region, the Dayak mandau and Moro kampilan, is apparent.

Again like the kampilan, the Timorese klewang's hilt has the suggested appearance of some kind of dragon or crocodile.

* BLADE:
Still further, observers will note the little spike that forks off the tip of the blade, just like on most kampilans.

Indeed, it's very tempting to say that the Timorese klewang is just a short kampilan.

Purists may complain about the homogenous steel used for the blade, but no complaints can be made about its strength. At a local park, I tested it against the branches of a large bough that had broken off a tree during a previous night's storm. A single stroke was capable of cutting through branches of more than 1.5" diameter.

All in all, this is an excellent piece, made even more attractive by the price.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 05-21-2002 00:23     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I HAD POSTED A HEADS UP ON THE SALE 03/19/02 IN THE SWAP FORUM THE LINK IS STILL THERE. I BOUGHT ONE OF THE KLEWANGS LIKE YOURS AND WAS PLEASED WITH MINE ALSO. I ALSO GOT A KLEWANG TEBAL UJUNG CAT.#AS-02 AND A PEDANG BATAK CAT#US-01 I WAS ALSO PLEASED WITH THEM. I LIKE TO USE THEM FOR PRACTICE ALSO ALTHOUGH THE GRIPS ARE A LITTLE SMALL FOR MY HANDS SO I CAN'T GET TOO CARRIED AWAY . I HAD ORDERED A DAMASCUS HORN KERAMBIT L CAT.#AS-10DL BUT IT GOT DAMMAGED IN SHIPPING AND WAS SOLD OUT , SO THEY MADE IT UP TO ME BY SENDING ME THE BATAK PEDANG WHICH COSTS MORE. I WILL HAVE TO PICK UP THE KERAMBIT LATER. THEIR PRODUCTS ARE ATTRACTIVE , STURDY AND FUNCTIONAL AND WELL PRICED. I HAVE 5 OF THEIR BLADES AND HAVE NOT BEEN DISAPOINTED.

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Freddy
Senior Member
posted 05-21-2002 13:45     Click Here to See the Profile for Freddy   Click Here to Email Freddy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, the Valiant Company has very attractive items. I recently bought a keris from their antique gallery. It's a keris kebo lajer. It can be seen at : http://www.valiantco.com/antique/3081KerisKeboFS.JPG .
Althought the sheath and handle are new, they are of excellent quality. The fit is very good. It was mentioned that the keris had been restored at some point. When I asked about this, they immediately send me a picture with indications where this had been done. It's a very nice keris for an attractive price.
I can only agree with Vandoo in saying that it's a company to recommend.

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ruel
Senior Member
posted 05-21-2002 20:08     Click Here to See the Profile for ruel   Click Here to Email ruel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
* Freddy: Nice keris.

* Funny (or maybe not), I also incurred damage during shipping, part of the reason for the delay.

* I'm curious as to the exact relationship between the klewang Timor and the kampilan. Are they indeed the same weapon? Two ways to go about answering that would be comparing

1. the techniques employed in the handling of each, and
2. the various rituals associated with them. We already know that it was common practice for both to attach headhunting victims' hair to the pommels.

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john
Senior Member
posted 05-21-2002 21:20     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations on the new acquisitions Ruel, Freddy. Nice pieces.

Ruel, I take it you like to test your swords; did I read in the archives, you once tested your antique "Han" jian by striking on one of the doors? I used to test mine on banana trunks.

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 05-22-2002 13:57     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All of these straightish, single-edged oceanic SE Asian cutting swords with wide, abrupt, often decorated (fretted, stepped, etc.) tips are obviously closely related. Whether one would say they are "the same"....well I've had my own troubles out of using that particular elocution ....an interesting variation is in the bevels being central vs. "chisel ground" (ie. beveled from one side, flat or concave on the other). Another is in the "lean" of the blade compared to the handle; forward or backward? More nebulous is their relation to the wide-tipped, rounded-tipped style known as parang nabur, which seems related to dhas, and perhaps, through them to Chinese cutting swords. A wide tip is nice on a cutting sword; it cuts down on vibration.

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Federico
Senior Member
posted 05-22-2002 14:59     Click Here to See the Profile for Federico   Click Here to Email Federico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In regards to the klewang/kampilan question. I personally believe that it should be looked at in the opposite situation. Not as things falling off as offshots of the kampilan, but the kampilan emerging as an off-shoot of the klewang. Supposedly Moro society/culture is newer than its Western brethren eg. Indonesian, Malaysian, Bornean, etc... Also if we follow the history Islam was brought from the West to Moroland through Bornean linkages. So it is not un-reasonable to assume that the new missionaries brought with them not just a religion but at least a few cultural artifacts, that later evolved into their more recognizable forms. To me one of my big questions is when did the kampilan start to evolve into its finalize form. What are the proto-type forms. With Moro kris we can see some evidence of evolution in real early kris resembling the more typical Indo/Malay keris, but how did the kampilan evolve.

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ruel
Senior Member
posted 05-22-2002 21:39     Click Here to See the Profile for ruel   Click Here to Email ruel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
* John:

Yes, I put that bronze jian, which I'm quite sure now is a late 19th/early 20thc fake, through a wooden door that was going to be recycled anyway. Who could resist the temptation?

* Tom, Fred:

Though the mandau and kampilan are often mentioned together, it seems like the klewang Timor is closer to the kampilan than the mandau. As Tom mentioned, the mandau's cross-section and bevel are different than the other two.

Timor, though, seems a bit removed from the "center of activity" of mandau & kampilan types (Sabah-Sulu Sea area), and doesn't seem to have been much affected by the same martial Islamic influences that shaped Borneo and the Morolands.

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Federico
Senior Member
posted 05-22-2002 22:34     Click Here to See the Profile for Federico   Click Here to Email Federico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In Robert Cato's book Moro Swords pg 48 he sites Dr. Mamitua Saber as holding the opinion that the most likely candidate for the prototypical kampilan is the klewang as found in Celebes. He also notes that variants of the kampilan/klewang are found all over insular South East Asia.

In his book Muslims in the Philippines, Cesar Majul notes many instances in times of strife, that many of the sultanates in the region would support eachother. The inter-Sultanate ties throughout this region were historically very strong. Also often in Spanish descriptions of various battles involving multiple groups (Ternatans, Borneans, Sumatrans, etc...) the warriors are said to be bearing kampilan. It must be considered though, that Spanish accountings were often very ignorant of the various groups, and often did not distinguish between the various peoples, eg. every particpant was just simply Moros, despite the actual divesity of the combatants. So it is not unreasonable to think that the Spaniards seeing similar weaponry would lump them all together under one name, despite the variation.

However lacking properly provenanced proto-kampilan we are left to speculation.

[This message has been edited by Federico (edited 05-22-2002).]

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 05-23-2002 13:24     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My suspicion is that the chisel grind is the earlier, more "primitive" form. That the kampilan is a more recent (and distinct) offshoot of this general type I have little doubt, particularly the Moro type kampilan; it seems to me likely that the fighting longsword is a more recent variant than the short dual purpose sword, but this is all pretty speculative on my part.

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ruel
Senior Member
posted 05-28-2002 17:06     Click Here to See the Profile for ruel   Click Here to Email ruel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Correcting my earlier description, the klewang Timor is chisel ground, though on the left side (ie. opposite the way a mandau is beveled).

Fred,

You've cited Spanish sources on several threads. Where are you getting them from? Are they in Cato's book? The only one I'm familiar with that mentions Philippine weaponry is the "Tratado Completo De La Esgrima Del Sable Espaņola," available online at http://flybynight.korolev.com/schoolofarms/TratadoCompleto/

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 05-28-2002 18:44     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is my understanding that such a bevel would be for a left handed user.

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Federico
Senior Member
posted 05-28-2002 21:09     Click Here to See the Profile for Federico   Click Here to Email Federico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately I do not know of anything online that's particularly any good, but as for books Dr. Najeeb Saleeby's History of Sulu; Studies in Moro History, Law, and Religion are pretty good references. Also look at Cesar Majul's Muslim's in the Philippines, and Blair and Robertson's History of the Philippines (I cant remember off hand the correct volume that covers the Moro wars). All cite to varying degrees Spanish Documentation, and particularly with Saleeby's work contains copies of various Spanish comminque. Dr. Saleeby in particular was in charge of the initial US survey of Moro-Land and its people, and later became very influential in US Moro policy. Much of what has been written about Moro's refer back to his groundbreaking work. There are some more books that make varying references and uses of Spanish Documents, but these are probably the best that I can think of at the moment.

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ruel
Senior Member
posted 05-30-2002 16:16     Click Here to See the Profile for ruel   Click Here to Email ruel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Suppose I'll have to get those books eventually, especially Cato.

Tom,

Even though it may be lefty-beveled, the scabbard is decorated for a left-sided wear (meaning a right-handed draw).

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Federico
Senior Member
posted 05-30-2002 16:38     Click Here to See the Profile for Federico   Click Here to Email Federico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Saleeby and Blair and Robertson are long out of print. Both were originally published near the turn of the century. There was a re-print of Blair and Robertson in the 70s. A good library though should have copies. No ideas on where to get Robert Cato's book anymore. There was rumor that Graham Brash, Singapore were going to do a re-issue sometime this year, but that hasnt materialized yet. It may be worth writing to them to find out.

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 05-30-2002 19:41     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is an interesting point, Ruel. It is possible it is meant to be worn edge-up, like a mandau (though the position of the belt-catcher projection at the throat does argue against this.). However, I have also heard that some right-handers like a left-bevelled blade for making some types of cuts that give them difficulties with a right-bevelled one. BTW, does the sheath have an open edge to pass that wide tip? It almost seems that it must.

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ruel
Senior Member
posted 05-31-2002 16:47     Click Here to See the Profile for ruel   Click Here to Email ruel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tom,

The scabbard is indeed slotted along the top (ie. spine side) seam for nearly the whole length, so it could only have been worn edge down. This also is how the Timorese seem to be wearing it in "Indonesia in Focus" and in several pictures in "Power and Gold: Gold and Jewelry from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines." As for the beveling, I wouldn't know, but it does beg the question of why the Dyaks did it one way and the Timorese did it another...

Fred,

Looks like I'll just have to wait till interest in the Moros picks up again.

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