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Old 9th December 2014, 06:38 PM   #1
DaveA
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Question Possible mystery - first clue

Hello all,

I have recently obtained a very interesting sword from a fellow forum dweller who is also a respected dealer. Let's call him "FFD" for now. The sword in question has what would seem like a solid identification from a respected previous owner (who indeed was so certain that he published it). However, FFD and I agree that the features don't seem to match. So what is it?

So as not to prejudice the investigation or produce a hasty conclusion, I will reveal the clues one by one.

Here is the first clue: the pommel. It is a hard wood with a deep brown-red color, lacquered. (The entire hilt, long enough for two hands, is the same and of a single piece.) The shape of the pommel is an elongated cone, at the base of which the shape is a reverse truncated cone that leads to the hilt grip proper. See the attached photo.

Anyone recognize this shape pommel?

Best Regards,

Dave A.
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Old 9th December 2014, 08:40 PM   #2
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Hi Dave,

when I not complete wrong it is the pictured chopper you ask about. It is for sure not Indonesian like suggested but a Thai or Laos chopper when I am not wrong.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 9th December 2014, 09:35 PM   #3
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Looks a bit like an old-time Aussie cane knife, used for cutting sugar-cane --- yeah, yeah, I know its not, but it has similar features.

As Detlef says:- not from the Indonesian Archipelago.
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Old 10th December 2014, 03:46 AM   #4
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Detlef:

I agree that this one is not necessarily from the Indonesian Archipelago. HOWEVER, in Anthony Tirri's book, Islamic Weapons: Maghrib to Moghul, there is a picture of the identical sword (but with a blue background) that he calls a parang beng kok from Bali (see fig. 300B, p. 424). That sword is mentioned also in van Zonneveld's encyclopedic reference on Indonesian arms, although with a different hilt and the sharpened edge is on the S-shaped section (not the straight back). This example is based on Gardner (1936), and the information provided shows that is sharpened on the opposite edge to the one pictured in Tirri's book.

Based on the shape of the pommel alone, which is the initial subject of this thread, there is a passing similarity to a Tengerrese sword that was discussed here a few months ago (see: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18718). The Tengerrese are from eastern Java. Interestingly, van Zonneveld describes a ruding lengon (p. 115) from East Java as "an ancient weapon with a heavy, fancifully shaped blade which may be thick along the back, ending in a point curving forwards. The edge is extremely S-shaped." The drawing for this one is based also on an example shown in Gardner (1936) and appears closer to the subject of this thread than a parang bengkok.

Despite the comments to date, I would not dismiss an Indonesian origin just yet based on the shape of the pommel alone. Let's see the rest of the actual sword first.

Ian.

References:

Gardner, GB (1936). Keris and Other Malay Weapons. Singapore. (reproduced by Wakefield, 1973).

Tirri, AC (2003). Islamic Weapons: Maghrib to Moghul. Indigo Publishing.

Van Zonneveld, A (2001). Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago. Zwartenkot Art Books:Lieden.

Last edited by Ian : 10th December 2014 at 02:38 PM. Reason: Corrected reference to v. Zonneveld; added Gardner reference
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Old 10th December 2014, 05:05 AM   #5
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Default Good!

This is the same sword once in Tirri's collection and depicted in his book as you cite.

Here is what sets it apart from similar style cane knives/swords: It is sharp along the flat straight edge as shown in the picture, not the curved edge.

The Laos idea is interesting.

Other ideas?
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Old 10th December 2014, 07:48 AM   #6
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Hello Dave,

Quote:
Here is what sets it apart from similar style cane knives/swords: It is sharp along the flat straight edge as shown in the picture, not the curved edge.

That does sound like what Alan is describing below, doesn't it? I'm not sure wether I'm getting the description in AvZ - sounds similar though.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 10th December 2014, 06:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Detlef:

I agree that this one is not necessarily from the Indonesian Archipelago. HOWEVER, in Anthony Tirri's book, Islamic Weapons: Maghrib to Moghul, there is a picture of the identical sword (but with a blue background) that he calls a parang beng kok from Bali (see fig. 300B, p. 424). That sword is not mentioned in van Zonneveld's encyclopedic reference on Indonesian arms, so I would guess Tirri is likely incorrect. Nevertheless, it is the exact same sword that you show in the post above.

Based on the shape of the pommel alone, which is the initial subject of this thread, there is a passing similarity to a Tengerrese sword that was discussed here a few months ago. See: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18718

Despite the comments to date, I would not dismiss an Indonesian origin just yet based on the shape of the pommel alone. Let's see the rest of the actual sword first.

Ian.


Hello Ian,

my opinion wasn't based alone by the pommel shape but by the complete sword/chopper. When it was for selling I was interested as well and have discussed it with a friend.

Hello Dave,

you have got a great bargain, this choppers are very rare. Maybe I will be able to show a similar example soon.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 10th December 2014, 07:16 AM   #8
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Aussie cane knives are sharp on the opposite side to the hook.

After the cane has been burnt to get rid of excess foliage and snakes you cut and then turn the knife over and use the hook to throw the cane behind you. Its rotten work.

Like I said:- this knife is similar to the knives used in Oz to cut cane.

Interesting thing to me is that this knife has no ferrule. Balinese tools for cutting cane, grass, light scrub have either a solid ferrule, or a socket to accept the hilt. The construction of this knife shown appears to have no ferrule, which means that it seems not intended for any sort of heavy work, and certainly not as a weapon --- first bone you hit the hilt would split. Even knives intended to cut grass in Bali have ferrules --- in fact even the fruit knives and kitchen knives have ferrules.

So what was it designed to do?

Maybe harvesting some sort of fruit, or nuts?

Place a partial cut through the stem and use the hook to pull the fruit down?

No impact that way, hence no need for a ferrule.
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Old 10th December 2014, 07:39 AM   #9
kai
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Hello Ian,

Quote:
I agree that this one is not necessarily from the Indonesian Archipelago. HOWEVER, in Anthony Tirri's book, Islamic Weapons: Maghrib to Moghul, there is a picture of the identical sword (but with a blue background) that he calls a parang beng kok from Bali (see fig. 300B, p. 424). That sword is not mentioned in van Zonneveld's encyclopedic reference on Indonesian arms, so I would guess Tirri is likely incorrect.

BTW, Albert does mention the parang bengkok from Java and Bali: p. 98, Fig. 382.

As with many utility blades, good antique examples seem to be rare; moreover, determining the origin og a given piece is also often a challenge due to the form-follows-function factor. Maybe our member billhook can lend a helping hand?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 10th December 2014, 02:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Hello Ian,


BTW, Albert does mention the parang bengkok from Java and Bali: p. 98, Fig. 382.

As with many utility blades, good antique examples seem to be rare; moreover, determining the origin og a given piece is also often a challenge due to the form-follows-function factor. Maybe our member billhook can lend a helping hand?

Regards,
Kai
Kai:

You're absolutely correct about van Zonneveld and I have amended my original post. Van Zonneveld also mentions another similarly shaped weapon from East Java.

Ian.
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Old 10th December 2014, 02:19 PM   #11
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Hello,

this blade is from an auction (Posting a link to a live auction is against forum rules.) and looks a little similar, especially the hilt. Description claims "Klewang".

Greetings
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Last edited by Robert : 11th December 2014 at 02:15 AM.
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Old 11th December 2014, 09:18 PM   #12
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Default Reiterate Dimensions & more pictures

Since this thread is getting long, for your reference here is an annotated picture of the sword showing the dimensions I reported earlier.

I also am attaching:
  • three pictures of where the hilt and blade meet
  • a top-down thickness picture
  • a tip detail picture
  • a picture showing me holding the sword with one hand -- note this was very difficult due to the weight distribution. This is not a one-handed weapon unless you are very strong.

Thank you very much for the comments and discussion thus far!

Best,

Dave A.
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Old 12th December 2014, 05:28 AM   #13
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Detlef: That Sino-Vietnamese polearm is socketed whereas Dave's sword has a tang. As far as I have seen, polearms from Vietnam are all socketed in a similar fashion to this one. Similarly for polearms from Burma, Thailand, and Laos. While the blade shape and edge seem to have the same orientation as Dave's sword, the attachment to the handle is completely different.

Dave: As I noted earlier, and I think Alan agreed, the Kabui attribution seems a bit shaky based on Rawson's description and picture, and what you have shown here. The blade of the Kabui dao has a significantly different shape from yours, having a diamond shape and being especially wide midway down its length. Also, the hilt of the Kabui dao has a ferrule and its sharpened edge appears to be on the same side as the hooked tip; both of these features are different from your dao.

Thanks for the close ups of the hilt and adjacent blade. That hilt looks as though it has been on the sword for a while. I'm also seeing a crack in the wood that runs through its end, and Alan's earlier comment about the lack of a ferrule leading to splitting in that area may be pertinent.

I agree that Assam and neighboring parts are an interesting mix of styles, with ample opportunity for blending and migration of styles at the local level. The Kuki dao, for example, is another hooked tip sword but has a solid brass hilt of various forms.

Ian.
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Old 13th December 2014, 12:25 AM   #14
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Sorry chaps , I was working from the gestalt of the piece & others from the same origin not an identical & exact specimen to the line drawing...

But of course you mileage may vary....
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