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Old 24th March 2020, 07:27 PM   #1
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Post Review of 'Steel and Magic'

Title: Steel and Magic. Edged Weapons of the Malay Archipelago.
Author: Sixt Wetzler (ed.)
Texts: Udo Kloubert, Michael Marlow, Achim G. Weihrauch,
Peter Dekker, Runjeet Singh
Photography: Lutz Hoffmeister, Runjeet Singh
Language: English
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 316
Format: 24 x 32 cm / 2,5 kg
Price: € 75,00
Publisher: Edition Fichter, Frankfurt am Main 2020
ISBN: 978-3-947313-06-8

'Steel and Magic' is the catalogue of the exhibition shown at Deutches Klingenmuseum Solingen, from 1.12.2019 until a date to be determined.
Yes, it is a catalogue, but it is much more than that.
Not only the 140 weapons that are exhibited are shown and described, but the whole is embedded in their background of the local culture and beliefs.
Moreover, the book itself is a feast for the eye.

- Acknowledgements
- Preface
- The Development of Blade Making and Blade Types in Southeast Asia
- Religious Beliefs and Magic Symbolism in the Malay Archipelago
- Edged Weapons of the Malay Archipelago
- Keris of the Malay Archipelago
- Bibliography

The catalogue shows a choice of the multitude of different blades that the archipelago produced. It includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.
The highest level of blacksmithing mixes with equally excellent processing of wood, horn, bone, precious and non-precious metals and other materials. At the same time, many traditions attribute a magical meaning to the blades: weapons have their own, mysterious inner life.
The catalogue presents the blade culture of the Malay Archipelago in all its versatility. From the metallurgy to the symbolic meaning of the pieces to the associated fencing, from the supernatural dimension to the history of the keris, a blade shape that has been included on UNESCO's list of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind.

The chapter 'Development' briefly describes the tradition of metalworking in Southeast Asia, the connections between, and the mutual influences of, civilizations from the first millennium BC until recent times.
Chapter ‘Religious Beliefs’ describes cultural and religious backgrounds and influences, originating from areas ranging from the Asian mainland to European ones.
In chapter ‘Edged Weapons’ 104 objects are shown on 200 pages with full-page photos plus photos of details and extensive, high quality descriptions. Literature references are included in the text.
The chapter ‘Keris’ has the same setup with 36 objects on 80 pages.
As a valuable addition, maps of the archipelago have been included, which indicate the origin of the described weapons.
An extensive bibliography concludes the book.

The texts, photo’s and lay-out all are of an excellent quality.
'Steel and Magic' is thus not only an essential reference work for devotees, collectors, museum professionals and dealers, but also a beautiful look-and-read book for aficionados of ethnographic art and of the history that comes with it.

Highly recommended!

Albert van Zonneveld - March 2020
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Old 25th March 2020, 02:32 PM   #2
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I agree with Albert on the great value of this book.

I was intending to post something about, when I had finished reading it, but Albert has done a much better review of it than I would have managed.

I was also impressed with the way that blade forms and types were compared with blades of other cultures and period, in a number of the individual entries.

There are many exceptionally fine items in the book.
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Old 25th March 2020, 08:23 PM   #3
A. G. Maisey
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I have not read this book, however, it does appear to be a very well produced, high quality publication.

A video tour of the exhibition is available at the link below, and I very strongly recommend that it needs to be watched.
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Old 25th March 2020, 10:04 PM   #4
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Thank you Albert for the review, and Alan for the nice link to the video tour.

Some diversion for those who are staying at home.

Stay safe.
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Old 25th March 2020, 11:13 PM   #5
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Also my thanks to Alan and Albert. I was able to visit the exhibition by it's opening, there are shown very rare and outstanding pieces, some you will find in old threads since Michael Marlow is a member here. Other pieces are from Dr. Udo Kloubert and from the IFICA.
I hope that they will find a way to extend it until the end of the year that I will be able to visit it again.

Stay healthy,
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Old 25th March 2020, 11:04 PM   #6
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Ноw to order the English version?
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Old 25th March 2020, 11:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ariel
Ноw to order the English version?

The catalog is in English, only the booklet is in German.

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Old 26th March 2020, 12:19 AM   #8
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As I understand, one of the forum participants has loaned a significant amount of items to the exhibit.
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