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Old 11th August 2015, 06:50 PM   #1
CharlesS
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Default A Good Malay Sundang With One Piece Carved Horn Hilt

Here is lovely old Malay sundang with a fairly standard blade and scabbard(though the horn ringed mouth is a nice feature).

The unique feature of this sundang is its one piece carved horn hilt. The hilt is carved from what appears to be water buffalo horn and is carved to mimic a multi-piece hilt construction. The bolster, the illusion of a segmented grip, and the pommel, are all carved from one piece.

Note the bolster leaves no room for a clamp or baca-baca, and the blade shows no evidence of ever having one, even though the blade is chiseled to accept one. Perhaps the extra strength of the horn, rather than wooden, grip made the clamp unnecessary.

I am not quite sure if this is a poor man's version of a Malay sundang hilt or something better. Regardless, a lot of work, thought and originality went into its creation!

Comments welcomed.
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Old 12th August 2015, 12:33 AM   #2
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Hello Charles,

very nice Malay sundang. I have a picture in my database from a very, very similar piece. I first thought that it is the same one.
I don't remember if the hilt has been from horn or from tarnished silver.
This sundang has a baca-baca.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 12th August 2015, 02:53 AM   #3
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The pierce work on the kembang kacang is really cool.

Have fun,
Leif
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Old 12th August 2015, 06:29 AM   #4
Gavin Nugent
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Default Big Brother

That's a fine Sundang there Charles. I think it is a cut above the "poor" mans Sundang as the blade is a fine type...the hilt has features heading in the direction of this one I present;

Here is his big brother.

This example wears a stunning repousse silver sheath over its original timber inner and horn throat piece....the timber inner cannot be removed so I cannot comment on whether the base has a horn insert.

it carries a broad 5 luk blade with the luks to the base and broad clear hardened edge.

I really like the blade type in yours, it has very strong features.

Gavin
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Old 12th August 2015, 08:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hello Charles,

very nice Malay sundang. I have a picture in my database from a very, very similar piece. I first thought that it is the same one.
I don't remember if the hilt has been from horn or from tarnished silver.
This sundang has a baca-baca.

Regards,
Detlef


Nice sundang Charles!

The Malay sundang Detlef is refering to has a similar segments grip, covered with brass segments and silver wire. It has a horn pommel in the shape of a bird.
Maybe yours had brass or silver wire in the past too around the grip?

I will make a photo of the hilt within a few days for you as reference.

Kind regards,
Maurice
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Old 12th August 2015, 08:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
Nice sundang Charles!

The Malay sundang Detlef is refering to has a similar segments grip, covered with brass segments and silver wire. It has a horn pommel in the shape of a bird.
Maybe yours had brass or silver wire in the past too around the grip?

I will make a photo of the hilt within a few days for you as reference.

Kind regards,
Maurice


Hello Maurice,

congrats, great catch! Also the mandau is great!

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 12th August 2015, 08:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hello Maurice,

congrats, great catch! Also the mandau is great!

Best regards,
Detlef


Thanks Detlef.

The sundang is very nice, but in this lot the mandau was my first priority...

Kind regards,
Maurice
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Old 12th August 2015, 08:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
Thanks Detlef.

The sundang is very nice, but in this lot the mandau was my first priority...

Kind regards,
Maurice



Hello Maurice,

when I remember correct it is special and a great piece, but my first priority was the sundang, great piece with the bird carved pommel!
Curious to see your pictures.

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 12th August 2015, 10:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
Maybe yours had brass or silver wire in the past too around the grip?

Kind regards,
Maurice



Maurice I really don't get the sense here that there was ever silver or brass grip segments or a silver ferrule here. I think the way it is...imitating those things...is exactly what the craftsman was going for.
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Old 13th August 2015, 03:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
Maurice I really don't get the sense here that there was ever silver or brass grip segments or a silver ferrule here. I think the way it is...imitating those things...is exactly what the craftsman was going for.


I too don't think is was ever covered based on the images as I think there should be more evidence within the horn surfaces of binding application and silver soldering, unless a skilled craftsman removed all evidence through proper polishing.

Gavin
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Old 13th August 2015, 06:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
Maurice I really don't get the sense here that there was ever silver or brass grip segments or a silver ferrule here. I think the way it is...imitating those things...is exactly what the craftsman was going for.


Charles, I never said there would be a silver ferrule.
I said, that maybe, (just maybe), there would be silver wire or segments on the grip, and I meant between the higher levels carving.

I agree with you the craftsman was imitating those things, but in between there could be some silverwire or brass segments for decoration or have a better grip.

But ofcourse maybe there never was, and it is just because I am used to see that on handles...
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Old 13th August 2015, 04:07 PM   #12
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Here the photos of the handle.
A small piece is damaged at the back of the handle.
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Old 13th August 2015, 05:34 PM   #13
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Maurice:

That is a very interesting hilt! Thank you for posting this picture.

The pommel shows the clearest representation I have yet seen of a bird's head, crest and beak. For some time we have debated what the style of pommel on Charles' sword might represent. Some describe this as a kakatua (cockatoo), others have thought it might represent a sarimanok (a mythical chicken important in Maranao tradition).

Your example seems to be the "missing link" in terms of confirming that this does represent a bird's head with a sturdy beak and crest. The appearance of your example would better fit a cockatoo than a chicken IMO. Being such a realistic depiction prompts me to think that this may be a very early example of the style. Would you post a picture or two of the blade also. What do you estimate the age of this one to be?

Ian

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Old 13th August 2015, 11:49 PM   #14
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So what is the general consensus on the purpose of the Malay Sundang. Was it more a weapon of war or a weapon of status. I ask because many if not most of these seem to either have no asang-asang or one that is purely decorative and doesn't connect to the hilt. Given the tang length and methods of attachment i an not sure that the weapon could be wielded well in battle as a slashing blade without the blade coming loose from the hilt.
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Old 14th August 2015, 12:06 PM   #15
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David,

I see the Sundang as both. They can certainly be used very efficiently for fighting and look pretty darn fine in quality dress.

The tang and fixing methods are no different to that of the Dha/Daab and they survive aok and remain unquestioned about their fighting ability.

I have and have had them with and without asang asang...personally I see little value for money in having these pieces attached to Kris and Sundang...

Gavin
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Old 14th August 2015, 01:47 PM   #16
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That is one gorgeous sundang hilt Maurice! Is it possible we could see the whole thing?

I think if mine had any similar wire or other fittings at one time, they would have had to make a mark or imprint of some sort.
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Old 14th August 2015, 07:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons
David,

I see the Sundang as both. They can certainly be used very efficiently for fighting and look pretty darn fine in quality dress.

The tang and fixing methods are no different to that of the Dha/Daab and they survive aok and remain unquestioned about their fighting ability.

I have and have had them with and without asang asang...personally I see little value for money in having these pieces attached to Kris and Sundang...

Gavin

Gav, i don't know that i have ever seen a the tang of a dha, but given the length of the hilts i always imagined that the tangs were much longer and therefore provide a much better attachment of blade to hilt than kris tangs. The value that i see in asang-asang that are properly attached to the hilt is that it makes it fairly certain that the hilt will not come loose from the blade during battle use. Kris tangs are not that long relatively speaking. The asang-asang serves a rather important function as i see it.
Can anyone provide any actual accounts of Malay sundangs being used in battle?
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Old 14th August 2015, 08:15 PM   #18
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Hello,

The baca-baca clamp's primary purpose was to hold the ganja tight and ensure the spiritual aspect of the weapon was held firmly in the blade no? Federico had written something to this effect on a website years ago.

Otherwise natural resin materials were perfectly well suited to actual hold the tand in the hilt, as seen on all other weapons in the area. The clamp offers little to no nothing in terms of additional structural stability to the handle.

Emanuel
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Old 14th August 2015, 10:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Gav, i don't know that i have ever seen a the tang of a dha, but given the length of the hilts i always imagined that the tangs were much longer and therefore provide a much better attachment of blade to hilt than kris tangs. The value that i see in asang-asang that are properly attached to the hilt is that it makes it fairly certain that the hilt will not come loose from the blade during battle use. Kris tangs are not that long relatively speaking. The asang-asang serves a rather important function as i see it.
Can anyone provide any actual accounts of Malay sundangs being used in battle?


Hi David,

The tang on Dha are quite short really..as are Guom and I am sure others that I have not seen...in some instances, with relevance to the blade length & proportionally speaking the Sundang/Kris tangs are larger and longer.

I think Emanuel has nit the nail on the head in that the asang asnag only offers "additional" stability.

These longer blade types certainly generate more force over the their length and rarely falter. I have a Dah in my personal collection apart at the moment as the silver work is being professionally restored, its tang is small and my "Story" Dah was in pieces when I received it as it was taken from a Dead Japanese soldier in WWII and broken down in to a regulation US army sized box and its tang was about 3.5 inches long...all restored now and re-set...hard as nails again too and no chance of faltering unless of course it is abused.

Natural resins are a wonderful thing. They bind well with all aspects of hilt materials and offer a stable and consistent adhesive that "move" as differing materials do in hot and cold.

Gavin
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Old 15th August 2015, 03:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emanuel
The clamp offers little to no nothing in terms of additional structural stability to the handle.

I'm sorry Emanuel, but simply by method of direct examination i find this difficult to accept. I am willing to accept that resin materials can work in many instances to suitably secure a blade to a hilt, but the construction of the asang-asang is most certainly a fully functional one, meant to be strong and secure. I personally find it hard to believe that it's only function was a spiritual one. If it's only purpose was to hold the gangya in place there would be no reason for the strap that runs up the side of the hilt that effectively holds the blade to the hilt. If it's purpose was merely symbolic the robust nature of the clamping system would be unnecessary.
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Old 15th August 2015, 05:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian


Being such a realistic depiction prompts me to think that this may be a very early example of the style. Would you post a picture or two of the blade also. What do you estimate the age of this one to be?

Ian


Thank you Ian.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to make some pictures of the blade also, as after I shot the photos of the hilt, I brought it to my restorer because the scabbard needs some care.
I'm sure it is very old, looking at the patina on the grip and the all over appearance.

Kind regards,
Maurice
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Old 15th August 2015, 05:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
So what is the general consensus on the purpose of the Malay Sundang. Was it more a weapon of war or a weapon of status. I ask because many if not most of these seem to either have no asang-asang or one that is purely decorative and doesn't connect to the hilt. Given the tang length and methods of attachment i an not sure that the weapon could be wielded well in battle as a slashing blade without the blade coming loose from the hilt.


I don't know for sure, but the several ones I came across with all had at least one stirrup, not only decorative ones.
Also the blades were very sharp, and most of them not so heavy as the average moro kris, but also very deadly in my eyes.
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Old 15th August 2015, 06:11 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
I don't know for sure, but the several ones I came across with all had at least one stirrup, not only decorative ones.
Also the blades were very sharp, and most of them not so heavy as the average moro kris, but also very deadly in my eyes.

I agree Maurice, most Malay sundangs i have seen look very deadly and sharp. I'd still love to find info about their use in battle though.
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Old 15th August 2015, 09:02 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
Unfortunately I didn't manage to make some pictures of the blade also, as after I shot the photos of the hilt, I brought it to my restorer because the scabbard needs some care.
I'm sure it is very old, looking at the patina on the grip and the all over appearance.


Hello Maurice,

I still keep the auction pictures. When you don't mind I can post some of them!?

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 15th August 2015, 09:10 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hello Maurice,

I still keep the auction pictures. When you don't mind I can post some of them!?

Best regards,
Detlef


Hi Detlef,

be my guest! I don't mind ofcourse. They are both very good old pieces.
Maybe the auction pictures of the blade are good enough to compare with Charles's sundang.

Kind regards,
Maurice
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Old 15th August 2015, 10:09 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
Hi Detlef,

be my guest! I don't mind ofcourse. They are both very good old pieces.
Maybe the auction pictures of the blade are good enough to compare with Charles's sundang.

Kind regards,
Maurice


Hi Maurice,

thank's, it's your piece so I have to ask!

Kind regards,
Detlef
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Old 15th August 2015, 11:19 PM   #27
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Maurice:

Gorgeous blade to go with that lovely hilt. I agree, this one looks old. How old is hard to say without having it in hand, but I would not be surprised if this one was 18th C. The chisel and file work is excellent (as is Charles' sword).

I've often found the Malay kris to feel lighter and "faster" in the hand, and always very sharp. Perhaps that reflects a different style of combat comapred with the heavier Moro kris.

Ian.
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Old 16th August 2015, 04:17 AM   #28
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That sure is a beauty! I've never had the opportunity to actually handle any of the Malay variety.
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Old 16th August 2015, 06:12 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
Also the blades were very sharp, and most of them not so heavy as the average moro kris, but also very deadly in my eyes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
I've often found the Malay kris to feel lighter and "faster" in the hand, and always very sharp. Perhaps that reflects a different style of combat comapred with the heavier Moro kris.


What kind of weights are we talking about?

In my limited experience, older Moro kris sit at about 600-700g, and are ergonomically nice (some, even beautiful) fighting weapons (approximately the same size and weight as a Roman gladius). Hard to see much benefit from going lighter than this. (Can't see it hurting much either, to be lighter than this. Won't cut quite as well, but wouldn't make much difference in practice.)

OTOH, some later Moro kris are rather sluggish in comparison. Heavier, and even slower in handling than the extra weight suggests.

My measured weights: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=19137

Some thoughts on weight and length:
(a) Since you move hand and arm as you move the weapon, you don't get much more speed from a weapon being lighter once it is light enough.
(b) Some weight is useful for cutting weapons. Kinetic energy of the weapon is higher for a heavier weapon moving at the same speed.
(c) Longer weapons benefit more from being lighter. Moment of inertia matters.
(d) Longer weapons have more benefit from speed of the blade.
So to have a light well-cutting short weapon, you might want it to be heavier than the lightest well-cutting long weapons.
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Old 17th August 2015, 02:44 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Your example seems to be the "missing link" in terms of confirming that this does represent a bird's head with a sturdy beak and crest. The appearance of your example would better fit a cockatoo than a chicken IMO. Being such a realistic depiction prompts me to think that this may be a very early example of the style.

Ian


hello Ian,
so how did you came to the conclusion that this could be the "missing link"? correct me if i'm wrong, but IMHO, this particular sundang is Malay, and not Moro, yes?
you're right in that it's not a sarimanok, but at the same time, it doesn't look like a cockatoo either. it looks more like a parrot, a popular motif outside of moroland
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