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wolviex 3rd December 2004 08:52 PM

Tombak for comment
4 Attachment(s)
This is next piece from National Museum.
As for me it looks like tombak with sheath... and this is the end of my knowledge :) The question is, can you tell me how old is it, and where came it from (Java?)

lenght: 40 cm (15,7'')
lenght of the blade: 23 cm (9'')
width at the base: 2,4 cm (0,9'')
lenght of the sheath: 34,5 cm (13,5'')

It's not complete. There is no handle, sheath needs restore becouse of many scratches. Is there a notch at the beginning of the sheath, or it's just one of the damages ?
So what do you think about it?

Best regards

PS. Larger photos are here:

Henk 3rd December 2004 09:27 PM


I'm quite sure that this is a javanese tombak with a very nice and old scabbard. Why should you restore this scabbard? it is showing his age in a great way. If you want to restore it I would start with arsenic on the blade to bring up the pamor. It's very hard to give the blade a date but maybe one of the other members can tell us more about this beauty.

Rick 3rd December 2004 09:53 PM

2 Attachment(s)
A mounted one with a very similar shape .

wolviex 3rd December 2004 10:04 PM

Henk, you're right, I shouldn't restore it, I admit, I gone to far with plans, fortunately I don't make decisions about restorating only by my self in this museum :), but with few experts, real masters in what are they doing.
About dating it, it's not younger then end of the 19th century. Could it be older, what do you think ?

After seeing few tombaks I found their scabbards are often carved, this one from Museum is very simple.

Henk 4th December 2004 09:14 AM


It is always pleasant to have some experts around you to decide and to discuss. The only restoring I would like to do on such a piece is the traditional etching with warangan to get up the pamor. It can be smashing such a result. I brought some rusty kerisses to a friend of my who can do the washing. When you see the keris without rust completely white metal and then the warangan doing its job and the complete unexpected pamor coming up, that's exitement.

The one Rick is showing us is mounted as a dagger. The mounting is probably maduran. Yours was mounted as a spear. Considering the patina of the scabbard it is certainly not younger than late 19th century. There are carved examples of these scabbards known but this scabbard is the most usual one. At the top and at the bottom it had a cord with a knot like you see on european military sabres. The blade could be older because the mountings where often replaced. The wooden parts where rotting away in your hands as they use to say. You can see at the edges and the blade itself that this washing with warangan was frequently done. The surface of Rick's tombak is smoother. Rick's one is younger but is also dated.

Nice tomback too, Rick!!

wolviex 4th December 2004 11:25 AM

Thank you Henk for your comments. I'll ask experts of metal conservation, what are their possibilities about getting up pamor.

By the way, did you noticed red paint at the end of the scabbard ?

Best regards

Henk 4th December 2004 03:40 PM

You're welcome Wolviex, and make sure if the experts wants to do something that warangan is used in the right way. Can you imagine how nice it would be if the conservator of the museum is willingly to ship it to someone of the forummembers who is able to do the washing?

I noticed the red tip of the scabbard. I also see some black spurs. Is that dirt or remains of black paint? I've tombak with a scabbard that is completely red painted.
I will try to scan some drawings of a tombak next week at school so that you have an idea how your tombak must have looked like.

nechesh 4th December 2004 07:19 PM

Wolviex, Henk makes a good point. Don't be surprised is your expert in metal conservation looks at you cross-eyed and in confusion when it comes to raising the pamor on this tombak. This is a cultural skill which i doubt you would come across in many museum conservators. There are real experts in this craft that your museum could send this blade out to, but knowing museum they will probably chose not too. Often museums are more concerned with merely maintaining condition rather than restoring it.

wolviex 4th December 2004 08:37 PM

The truth come to light
Well, I didn't wrote it Nenesh, but I think the same about museums (O boy! and I work in one of them :eek: ). I was afraid you'll think about Krakow's National Musuem - what a backward ruin, they don't know how to make pomor, but now I see that my afraids are the same what yours :o
I admit, chances are not big, but I'll try. Knowing the financial situation, Musuem won't decide to send it elsewhere, especially, this object isn't such important "for Polish historical and cultural aspects" and dspite it's nice, it isn't special. :(

Adni Aljunied 7th December 2004 04:08 PM

Both tombaks have similar features, but closer look at the "metok" or ferrule shows that the one wolviex has is seperated whereas Rick's has it made one with the blade, or "seiras".
More commonly seen from Sumatra or Malaysian regions are the seiras tombaks, while the other type are more Javanese inclined, although there are exceptions. The not very contrasting pamor on Rick's tombak also has less Javanese features, and I'm sure with a good washing, wolviex's tombak will show good contrast.
Do retain the sheath please, and give it some good old English oils or other wood oils to "relive" it back again, and maybe a longer shaft for the handle. On that note, I would consider both pieces more as a "lembing", a throwing spear, rather than a "tombak" (lance) from it's more slimmmer and rather "aerodynamic" features. But again, there are a few views on the diffrences between a tombak and a lembing, as it is with a lance and a spear.

Rick 7th December 2004 04:12 PM

Adni , I was suprised at how smooth the surface of my piece is .
Can you make any comment on that ?
It's good to see you here . :)

Adni Aljunied 7th December 2004 04:45 PM

It mutually good to be here too Rick. :)
The smoothness on the surface of your tombak may be seen as a common Balinese styled finnish, but I don't think the tombak is of Balinese in origin. Without handling the piece it's hard to tell, but the metals used looks more "compact" and "stronger" if I may say. Arranged in the "miring" technique with the pamor "adeg", stronger metals, and of course made with an experienced empu, the fusion of the layers are more "tighter" and "compact" which when finally finished traditionally with limestone, can result in a more smoother surface. Not usually done in Malaysian blades, but not uncommon on Sumatran pieces.
Also note of the temper mark from the darker shades on the top half of the blade (especially the edges) where it is submerge during temper quenching. Another feature pointing it more towards a Sumatran origin.
The presence of a wax coating for preservation may also make the surface smooth, but removing the wax layer will expose the courser surfaces.

Henk 9th December 2004 08:06 PM


I understand the museum problem and that is something common in every museum. Adni was the one I was thinking of for the washing.

As promissed I scanned some drawings how this tombak or lembing like Adni says ,and he's right we should talk about lembing, was dressed.

wolviex 9th December 2004 09:53 PM

Thank you thank you
:) Henk, it's great, I suffer because of lack of terminology. It will be helpful.
Best regards

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