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Old 27th December 2017, 09:12 PM   #1
Ian
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Default Is this a siraui?

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.
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Old 28th December 2017, 04:59 AM   #2
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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
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Old 28th December 2017, 12:29 PM   #3
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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.

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Old 28th December 2017, 01:14 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 28th December 2017, 02:12 PM   #5
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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
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Old 28th December 2017, 03:15 PM   #6
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Hi Detlef anf David:

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

Thanks for the comments.

Ian.
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Old 28th December 2017, 04:14 PM   #7
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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
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Old 28th December 2017, 08:05 PM   #8
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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.

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Old 28th December 2017, 08:25 PM   #9
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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
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Old 28th December 2017, 08:31 PM   #10
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Forget, what to my feeling look weird is the orientation of the handle.
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Old 28th December 2017, 09:52 PM   #11
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Hello Detlef,

Quote:
weird is the orientation of the handle.

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
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Old 28th December 2017, 09:36 PM   #12
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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
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Old 29th December 2017, 02:48 PM   #13
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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.

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Detlef
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Old 28th December 2017, 10:15 PM   #14
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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?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 28th December 2017, 10:54 PM   #15
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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.
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Old 28th December 2017, 11:27 PM   #16
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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

Last edited by kai : 29th December 2017 at 12:02 AM.
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