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Ian 11th October 2020 12:19 PM

Old karambit
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I have had this karambit since the late 1990s. I bought it from a woman who had lived in Jakarta for 30 years and she acquired it from an antique dealer in Jakarta in the late 1960s. She was told by the dealer it dated from the early 19th C.

This is the only karambit I have seen with a pamor blade, and I would like to ask our Indonesian experts whether this type of blade was common on karambit, particularly older examples. An estimate of age would be appreciated.



Sajen 11th October 2020 04:48 PM

Hi Ian,

It's not the first one I have seen where the blade was etched. I guess that it's a Javanese way of restoration. Many different blades where I doubt that the ever was etched with warangan I have seen which seems recently been restored this way. Just my guess! :shrug:
And my further guess is that old karambit blades are always laminated but normally polished.


mariusgmioc 11th October 2020 08:03 PM

I have seen quite a few with pattern welded/pamor blade, so I would assume this would be the norm for older blades.

Maybe you should ask Alan as I am sure he can give you a very educated answer. :shrug:

Bob A 11th October 2020 09:15 PM

I have at present eight of these knives. The only two with pamor style blades are modern.

I've not seen pictures of any older ones with pamor/damascus blades.

A. G. Maisey 11th October 2020 10:01 PM

Ian, I have seen a lot of kerambit, lawi ayam, siraui & similar little knives with pamor blades, mostly they have been pretty recent.

I have had several older ones that were already in Australia before WWII, but the vast bulk of older knives of these types that I have seen and owned have been plain laminated iron or steel.

Similarly with keris bahari and other styles of keris that are normally thought of as not having pamor blades, I have seen, owned, and own now a number of these types of keris with pamor blades. None are particularly old. I rather suspect this trend towards pamor construction in these blades probably commenced in the early 20th century.

Ian 13th October 2020 05:30 AM

Alan, Bob, Marius, Detlef,

Thanks for your responses. When I mentioned "pamor" previously I was referring to warangan-etched blades on kerambit, which have been uncommon in my (limited) experience.

Thanks Alan for your thoughts about the earlier forms of these knives not being etched in this manner, which Detlef and Bob also mentioned. Laminated blades are obviously common on new interpretations, including those from the Philippines.

My inquiry was primarily about the use of warangan on these blades, and whether this represented an older style of kerambit. Alan has answered my question and indicated that it is a 20th C feature.

Thanks guys!

A. G. Maisey 13th October 2020 06:11 AM

Ian, the effect of warangan is to darken ferric material and to leave material containing nickel a lighter colour, If the contrasting material is pure nickel, it leaves it bright, if it is a mixture of nickel and iron the contrast will still be there but subdued in direct proportion to the percentages of iron and nickel.

There is a type of pamor called "pamor sanak", "sanak" means "related", so we can get a subdued type of pamor even when the contrast is created by a different type of iron. Very often we do not know whether a blade is made from a low contrast material until it has been etched and stained.

Where a blade is made with a high contrast material we should always expect to see a steel core to the blade. Iron blades, whether containing nickel or not, do not hold an edge particularly well. This is perhaps not all that important if the blade is a stabbing weapon, but many of these small knives are are work knives as well as weapons, so they must hold an edge.

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