Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Is this a siraui? (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=23493)

Ian 27th December 2017 09:12 PM

Is this a siraui?
 
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More than 10 years ago I acquired this piece from the late Hank Spierenkamp. He called it a siraui. However, it does not look like examples of siraui illustrated in several reference sources, and I'm wondering if anyone has another name for it and an idea of where it originated.

The sharpened edge is towards the bottom of all the pictures. The hilt is upturned at its end, and the blade is slightly recurved, somewhat like a rencong. The hilt is polished smooth and I looked at it hard under magnification to see if it might be rhino horn--there is a defect at the end of the hilt that suggests it may be made of some type of horn--but I think it is more likely wood. (I'm willing to be persuaded that it may be rhino horn if someone has good reasons to believe that ;)).

Your thoughts about where it comes from, what it may be called, and the hilt material are all very welcome.

Ian.

David 28th December 2017 04:59 AM

Ian, you may find this thread helpful. It seems to me that there are at least two distinctively different blades that have been identified as siraui, on that may or may not be considered a fighting blade and one that is obviously intended first and foremost as a utility knife.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=siraui

Ian 28th December 2017 12:29 PM

Thanks David. Yes, I looked through the archives also. Not much here or elsewhere I'm afraid.

Hank was an experienced guy and I think his web site may still be up in memory of his contributions to collecting Indonesian knives and swords. I accepted his description as coming from someone who had many years of experience in the field. Would just like to confirm what he said and learn more about these knives, if anyone can help.

Ian.

David 28th December 2017 01:14 PM

Well Ian, from what i understand as a siraui (both forms shown in the link i shared) i would not immediately identify your knife as one. Though the handle orientation seems similar your blade seems to be much slimmer than the siraui i have seen and most siraui seem to curve slightly upward throughout the length while yours seems to curve slightly downward. But who knows, it might just be one more variation on the theme. :shrug:

Sajen 28th December 2017 02:12 PM

Hi Ian,

I am afraid but I think like David that it fit neither the description of the classic Siraui like described nor the other form which get often named as Siraui.
Here some more threads about this knives: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=siraui, http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=siraui,
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=siraui,
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=siraui,
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=siraui

Best regards,
Detlef

Ian 28th December 2017 03:15 PM

Hi Detlef anf David:

Yes, I agree. It does not look like other examples discussed here or shown elsewhere.

Thanks for the comments.

Ian.

kai 28th December 2017 04:14 PM

Hello Ian,

Nice - that's a weird piece for sure!

I believe that it's a really far stretch to call this a siraui. Having seen quite some siraui variants, neither the blade, nor the hilt, nor the scabbard does bear any relationship with typical siraui (nor any possibly related blades).


Quote:
The sharpened edge is towards the bottom of all the pictures. The hilt is upturned at its end, and the blade is slightly recurved, somewhat like a rencong.

I don't think it's necessarily from Aceh (nor northern Sumatra, that is). I'd need some well-lit close-ups of the pommel and scabbard mouth (preferably from different angles) for gaining a better understanding. How much taper has the back of the blade and far from the hilt does the cutting edge start? An etch might also yield additional info! Dimensions?


Quote:
The hilt is polished smooth and I looked at it hard under magnification to see if it might be rhino horn

The macro shot is not good enough to be positive. However, from what can be seen in the pics, I'm fairly sure this is waterbuffalo horn.


Quote:
there is a defect at the end of the hilt that suggests it may be made of some type of horn--but I think it is more likely wood.

Is that area cleanly chipped or is there any resin/etc. remaining?

Regards,
Kai

Ian 28th December 2017 08:05 PM

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Hello Kai,

Thanks for your thoughts. I think these are better pics of the defect and the end of the scabbard. The defect appears to be filled with resin.

Blade length = 10.5 inches
OAL = 15 inches
OAL in scabbard = 16 inches

Thickness of blade in front of hilt = 5/16 inch

Maximum blade width (at hilt) = 3/4 inch
Minimum blade width (near mid-point of blade) = 0.5 inch

The blade does taper towards the tip but not a great deal until about a half-inch from the tip where it tapers fairly acutely to the point. The sharpened edge starts about 3.5 inches from the hilt. For a blade that is not very wide it is quite sturdy and thick. Probably a good thrusting weapon.

Ian.

.

Sajen 28th December 2017 08:25 PM

Hi Ian,

the hole in the hilt seems natural to my eyes, I have a Kalasan hilt with a very similar hole at this place.

Regards,
Detlef

Sajen 28th December 2017 08:31 PM

Forget, what to my feeling look weird is the orientation of the handle. :shrug:

kai 28th December 2017 09:36 PM

Quote:
the hole in the hilt seems natural to my eyes, I have a Kalasan hilt with a very similar hole at this place.

A pic would be great, Detlef!

This is very unlikely to be a natural defect/malformation: The end of the hollow portion of a horn is a fairly acute and rounded "cone" - here we're looking at the endgrain and such a shallow depression does not make any sense unless there was something inlaid. OTOH, the shape does not seem to be perfectly regular and the whole piece is a rather plain ensemble without extant decorative elements...

Regards,
Kai

kai 28th December 2017 09:52 PM

Hello Detlef,

Quote:
weird is the orientation of the handle. :shrug:

One might argue that this may point to northern Sumatra.

However, neither blade nor hilt nor scabbard do seem to vibe with any established pattern - another possible oddball...

Regards,
Kai

kai 28th December 2017 10:15 PM

Hello Ian,

Thanks for the additional data!


Quote:
The defect appears to be filled with resin.

As mentioned above I'd guess there was something inlaid here; probably nothing too fancy though IMHO.


Quote:
Blade length = 10.5 inches
Thickness of blade in front of hilt = 5/16 inch
The blade does taper towards the tip but not a great deal until about a half-inch from the tip where it tapers fairly acutely to the point. The sharpened edge starts about 3.5 inches from the hilt.

To have one third of the edge unsharpened is certainly unusual for Southeast Asia.


Quote:
For a blade that is not very wide it is quite sturdy and thick. Probably a good thrusting weapon.

Yeah, it does look like a very simple rencong/sewar blade (without bolster and other bells and whistles). However, the hilt does not really look optimized for stabbing, doesn't it? (The gripping area appears to be rather long: when you keep the pommel inside your palm, you pretty much loose contact with the blade and vice versa if you snuggle up on the blade?)

Apparently the 2/3 edge got resharpened quite a lot, too - IMVHO quite excessive if this blade got predominantly utilized as dagger...

Maybe a utility knife with more specialized function? Or a really convincing attempt at a sharpened pry-bar at last? ;) :D

Regards,
Kai

Ian 28th December 2017 10:54 PM

Kai,

It feels much more natural in the hand if the knife is held with the sharpened edge up and the thumb resting on the end of the blade. Perhaps that is why the edge is not sharpened for the first few inches. A stab to the abdomen and a slice upwards would be a devastating wound and likely to hit major blood vessels.

Ian.

kai 28th December 2017 11:27 PM

Hello Ian,

Quote:
It feels much more natural in the hand if the knife is held with the sharpened edge up and the thumb resting on the end of the blade.

There are quite a few utility/EDC/status knives/tools which are mainly utilized with an edge-up grip: peurawot, lopah petawaran, luju celiko(?), piso raut, sanggi, etc.


Quote:
Perhaps that is why the edge is not sharpened for the first few inches.

Yeah, for the first inch or so - 3.5" is quite a lot for human thumbs though! ;)


Quote:
A stab to the abdomen and a slice upwards would be a devastating wound and likely to hit major blood vessels.

That does work with a rencong hilt. However, with your piece the gripping hand would be much more likely to slip onto the blade (unless you lend support with the second hand - a risky strategy to bet your life on in a brawl, I'm afraid).

Regards,
Kai

Sajen 29th December 2017 02:48 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
A pic would be great, Detlef!

This is very unlikely to be a natural defect/malformation: The end of the hollow portion of a horn is a fairly acute and rounded "cone" - here we're looking at the endgrain and such a shallow depression does not make any sense unless there was something inlaid. OTOH, the shape does not seem to be perfectly regular and the whole piece is a rather plain ensemble without extant decorative elements...


Hi Kai,

here you go.
Like said, at least by my kalasan handle I feel very confident that the hole is natural. When you look close you see the natural grain around the hole which is in the middle, I think to see the same by Ian's handle. Buffalo horn is hollow in the most of it's length and only at the end massive. I think it's a inadvertent accident from the carver. The hole in the handle from Ian's knive look very similar to my eyes. And the knife isn't fancy at all so I doubt that the hole is extra carved for a jimat.
Just my thought which is worth like any other thought since we just don't know if the hole was carved with aim. :shrug:

Best regards,
Detlef

Ian 29th December 2017 03:24 PM

Thanks Detlef. Yes, a very similar defect and I agree that there appear to be a couple of concentric rings around my example also.

Ian.

kai 29th December 2017 03:52 PM

Hello Detlef,

Thanks, that makes a good comparison!


Quote:
Like said, at least by my kalasan handle I feel very confident that the hole is natural. When you look close you see the natural grain around the hole which is in the middle, I think to see the same by Ian's handle. Buffalo horn is hollow in the most of it's length and only at the end massive.

Yes, your's looks like the natural cavity. Notice the relatively smooth inner surface and the depth of the hole (compared to the surface of the opening).

However, what throws me with Ian's example is the considerable area of the opening and the relatively shallow depression: Considering the rather limited diameter of the pommel, one would expect the cavity to reach the front of the pommel or at least very close! (There is a slight angle to the grain - it might be possible that the tip of the cavity extends into the gripping area.)

Ian, can you ascertain whether the bottom of the hole is only resin/fillings or is there also solid horn? An X-ray would be nice to have... ;)


Quote:
I think it's a inadvertent accident from the carver. The hole in the handle from Ian's knive look very similar to my eyes. And the knife isn't fancy at all so I doubt that the hole is extra carved for a jimat.

True, maybe the resin was just supposed to patch the hole.

BTW, I don't think this really is an accident or missing skill of the carver - most likely these are lesser examples made to a budget while the largest horns or best pieces were reserved for VIPs...

Regards,
Kai

kai 29th December 2017 04:12 PM

Hello Ian,

Quote:
I agree that there appear to be a couple of concentric rings around my example also.

Yes, the hilt of your example obviously includes the central part of a horn.

I'm less convinced that the opening really follows the growth rings - it does look a bit unregular/polygonal (anyway, waterbuffalo horn is not perfectly round to begin with) and, more importantly, several rings seem to (partly) touch the opening which might point to human intervention/carving.

Regards,
Kai

Sajen 29th December 2017 05:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
BTW, I don't think this really is an accident or missing skill of the carver - most likely these are lesser examples made to a budget while the largest horns or best pieces were reserved for VIPs...



Sounds like a very likely reason. The kalasan is an average example, eyes from bullen-nails are the only metal adornments but with a good blade.

Regards,
Detlef

Ian 31st December 2017 10:32 PM

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A couple more knives that might have some similarity to the topic of this thread. The top one (OAL = 14 inches) has a blade of similar shape with its edge towards the bottom of the page. The second one (OAL = 12.5 inches) has its edge facing upwards. Both have bone handles, the second having most of the humerus bone of a monkey. The second one also has a small copper coin worn smooth for a disk guard and a strip of copper wrapped around the blade adjacent to the hilt.

I don't know where the first one came from--perhaps one of the hill tribes from MSEA. The second one is from Vietnam where it was collected in the early 20th C.

These village quality knives have always impressed me with their utility and generally high craftsmanship given the fairly basic tools that went into making them.

Ian.

.

Sajen 31st December 2017 10:50 PM

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Hi Ian,

the first one is a Nias knife, very nice and rare piece! Here a you can see my one: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...&highlight=nias

Best Regards and a Happy New Year,
Detlef

Ian 31st December 2017 11:19 PM

Thanks Detlef. I like the word “rare”. Best wishes for the New Year. Ian

Ian 1st January 2018 05:50 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Following Detlef's kind identification of my pisau Nias, I came across this one on eBay and acquired it today. It looks like a mini-balato, but has an overall length of only 16 inches. Note the wire loop on the scabbard throat that looks very similar to Detlef's example.

The pics come from the auction site.

Ian.

Sajen 1st January 2018 07:30 PM

Beautiful antique example with a much newer scabbard. Love the brass handle. But I wouldn't call it parang, by this length it's a piso/pisau. The wire near the scabbard throat I've seen by it's big brother, the balato as well.

Regards,
Detlef

Ian 1st January 2018 08:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Beautiful antique example with a much newer scabbard. Love the brass handle. But I wouldn't call it parang, by this length it's a piso/pisau. The wire near the scabbard throat I've seen by it's big brother, the balato as well.

Regards,
Detlef
Hi Detlef:

Sorry about the "parang" terminology. I was copying that from the old thread that you linked to. I will amend that to pisau Nias. :)

Yes, I think the scabbard probably is more recent that the knife. Once I get this one I will clean it up to examine the brass hilt better, and will try to post more pics here.

Interestingly, this knife had been online for a while and the price had just been dropped to a third of its original asking amount. I guess someone felt generous over the Holiday Season.

Ian

Sajen 1st January 2018 08:17 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Interestingly, this knife had been online for a while and the price had just been dropped to a third of its original asking amount. I guess someone felt generous over the Holiday Season.


Hi Ian,

good that I haven't noticed the listing! ;) :D

Sajen 2nd January 2018 12:26 PM

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This little beauty was sold last night by ebay, sadly I wasn't able to win it! :mad: It could be that this thread raised the bids!? :shrug:

Ian 2nd January 2018 12:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
This little beauty was sold last night by ebay, sadly I wasn't able to win it! :mad: It could be that this thread raised the bids!? :shrug:
Detlef, I'm sorry to hear you missed out on that one. It would not be the first time that something said here subsequently affected the price of an item online. There is sometimes a price to pay for sharing knowledge. :(

I have been contacted in the past by people who acknowledged that they bought a sword or knife because it was discussed here, and then offered to sell it to me because they knew I was interested in it! That was before eBay masked the names of unsuccessful bidders.

Sajen 2nd January 2018 01:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Detlef, I'm sorry to hear you missed out on that one. It would not be the first time that something said here subsequently affected the price of an item online. There is sometimes a price to pay for sharing knowledge. :(


Hi Ian,

thank you for your sympathy! And very well said! :)

Regards,
Detlef


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