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Old 17th July 2018, 02:48 AM   #1
Rafngard
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Default A Sumatran... something?

Hello All,

I recently acquired this Sumatran(?) knife, and it kind of confuses me. Both Zonneveld and the forum archives have yet to direct me to something that looks like this. The seller (who seems surprisingly knowledgeable) refereed to it as a sekin or perhaps a rencong, but I have yet to see an example that resembles mine. The blade and horn ferrule from this kuku rimau from the archives looks close, but the hilt and scabbard of mine are totally different, though the hilt of mind does look like it may have been modified.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=8342

I'm attaching the seller's photos, which are, until I get a chance to take better photos, better than mine.

Edit: I am removing the sellers photos. I will update with my own in the near future.

Any thoughts? The seller estimated 1900-1940 for age.

Thanks,
Leif

Last edited by Rafngard : 17th July 2018 at 03:25 PM. Reason: Seller reaues
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Old 18th July 2018, 04:07 AM   #2
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Alright, let's try this again. These photos are ones I took this evening. They are not great, but but they are mine.

Have fun,
Leif
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Old 18th July 2018, 12:01 PM   #3
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Hello,

that is an interessting dagger. The blade ist very corroded but the dress is fine. This makes me think, that the dress is much younger than the blade itself.

The blade is clearly no Rencong/Rentjong, since the base ist totally different.

I believe, this is a pretty old and nice Bugis Badek-blade from Sulawesi, 19th century or earlier, with a Rencong-based dress from 20th century.


Roland
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Old 18th July 2018, 01:16 PM   #4
kai
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Post Tiger's *tooth*, anyone?

Hello Leif,

You pretty much nailed it already!

Your blade is genuine and most likely from the 19th century. It's a dagger type which hasn't been well documented and I believe we don't know its local name yet. Until we can ascertain a local name I have pegged this type as NN03 (NN for nomen nudum, i. e. without name) in my collection.

Hilt and pommel can be quite variable with this rare blade type - a feature also seen with other blades from the central Sumatran highlands; some of them exhibit typical sekin pommels (the nose on your example seems to be a modern repair though as is the replaced scabbard). Antique scabbards seem to support an origin from the Padang highlands (most likely diffusing from there into Minang-influenced neighbouring regions).

The single Lampung blade for which Michael obtained the name kuku rimau is quite different from these dagger-like blades with pronounced central rib. A tiger's *claw* is heavily curved and sharp at the tip and on the concave side - very much like the blades we know as korambi/kerambit/lawi ayam; this seems to correspond with contemporary Malay usage of this name, too. Thus, my preference to stay with NN03 for the time being...

BTW, your blade is on the slender side for this type: What are its dimensions (length, thickness, width, weight)?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 18th July 2018, 01:27 PM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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Dress is a substitution or replacement, blade is from a beladau, that in Jawa will be called a jambiyo.

I have owned several of these but in correct dress.
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Old 18th July 2018, 02:00 PM   #6
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Seems we crossed posts, Alan!

I believe this is a class of blades distinct from the coastal Melayu beladau: the latter tend to have blades with a broader base (approaching their Arab in-laws ).

Usually beladau blades are also more strongly curved while the central Sumatran highland daggers NN03 tend to exhibit a slightly curved blade only; Leif's example shows the strongest curve I've seen so far (with most of the curve located at the base though).

Regards,
Kai
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Old 18th July 2018, 10:24 PM   #7
A. G. Maisey
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No Kai, we did not cross posts, I read your post before I wrote.

You can call this beladau or jambiyo blade whatever you wish, I think you know my opinions in respect of playing with names --- the people who are mostly responsible for the names used by collectors of ethnic objects and who have come from outside the societies responsible for the origin of these objects, as far as I can see do not and have not understood the languages involved, nor the societies of the people involved. This is a generality and can without doubt be shown to be incorrect in some instances.

So --- name it as you will.

The two names I have given I have not taken from any book, I have not heard them from another collector, I have not pulled them out of thin air, nor dreamt them up after finishing a bottle of shiraz.

Beladau was given to me first by a dealer who lived in Jogja, but came from Palembang, that was around 1980. In later years I had the same name given to me again by several people who were not collectors or dealers of weapons or artefacts, just ordinary people, housewives and their husbands. These people were from various places in Sumatra, and I seem to recall one couple came from somewhere else, maybe Malaysia.

Jambiyo is the general name for any dagger with curved double edge blade and a hilt with flared pommel and ferrule section, like the Middle Eastern jambiya.

In both cases the people I knew who used the name beladau/jambiyo did not draw any distinction between short, broad, deeply curved blades and longer narrower, irregularly curved blades, but the daggers that they saw in my possession did have the same type of hilt, something like a crude version of a ME jambiya.

So for me, Rafngard's cobbled up dagger has the blade of a beladau.

What anybody else may care to call it is up to them.

An after-thought:-

I do not know, but I suspect that "beladau" might be a generic used to refer to a class of daggers.
Reason being that "bela" means "defence", "dau" is possibly a corruption of "daun" = "leaf", the word "leaf" is sometimes used as an indirect reference to a blade.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 18th July 2018 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 18th July 2018, 10:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

The two names I have given I have not taken from any book, I have not heard them from another collector, I have not pulled them out of thin air, nor dreamt them up after finishing a bottle of shiraz.
.


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Old 19th July 2018, 12:45 AM   #9
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Firstly, thank you all for your responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
What are its dimensions (length, thickness, width, weight)?


Length
Over all: 28 cm
without scabbard: 27 cm
Blade alone: 20 cm

Thickness:
Blade tapers from .4cm near hilt to .1cm at tip

Width:
Blade tapers from 2cm to .7 cm

Weight:
95g total
72 without scabbard.



Also, I am hard pressed to come up with a better time to dream something up than after a bottle of Shiraz ;-)

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 19th July 2018, 12:53 AM   #10
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Kai,

Do you have images of a correctly dressed example of NN03?

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 19th July 2018, 01:53 AM   #11
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
I read your post before I wrote.

You can call this beladau or jambiyo blade whatever you wish, I think you know my opinions in respect of playing with names

Well, I hope you noticed that the thrust of my postings was not an easy fix regarding names but rather to suggest that we have 2 distinct classes of blades, from different cultures; confounding them won't help IMVHO.

I couldn't care less what name will eventually be established for this blade type, if any. However, I'd like to avoid prematurely affixing a wrong tag to them; and even more so confounding their originating culture and history.


Quote:
Beladau was given to me first by a dealer who lived in Jogja, but came from Palembang, that was around 1980. In later years I had the same name given to me again by several people who were not collectors or dealers of weapons or artefacts, just ordinary people, housewives and their husbands. These people were from various places in Sumatra, and I seem to recall one couple came from somewhere else, maybe Malaysia.

I don't doubt that orang Melayu and other coastal Sumatran ethnic groups might be inclined to refer to the kind of blade in Freddy's and/or this thread as beladau. However, I'd posit that this type of blades originates from the Minang highlands and is distinct from the coastal beladau type. Thus, it is pretty much a moot point what other cultures choose to say about a Minang blade. It's like asking a true-bred member of the Surakarta society about a Tenggerese blade (or vice versa; there may be people who know both (or multiple) cultures well enough to give an educated cross-cultural response - probably a rare find though...


Quote:
Jambiyo is the general name for any dagger with curved double edge blade and a hilt with flared pommel and ferrule section, like the Middle Eastern jambiya.

In both cases the people I knew who used the name beladau/jambiyo did not draw any distinction between short, broad, deeply curved blades and longer narrower, irregularly curved blades, but the daggers that they saw in my possession did have the same type of hilt, something like a crude version of a ME jambiya.

Could you post examples of the pieces which these informants commented on, please? I suspect we're speaking of a mixed lot or even different beasts...

I will also try to come up with pics from my collection for a better understanding of what I refer to as highland daggers.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 19th July 2018, 01:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Firstly, thank you all for your responses.

You're welcome, Leif!

Thanks for the stats - sounds like a fair light blade, indeed.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 19th July 2018, 02:02 AM   #13
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Hello Leif,

Quote:
Do you have images of a correctly dressed example of NN03?

I'll try to come up with pics - Freddy's example from the other thread is now in my collection and exhibits one of the typical hilt types; also sekin hilts (cp. AvZ) are a legit variant.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 19th July 2018, 05:42 AM   #14
A. G. Maisey
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No pics Kai, I had 4 or 5 of these things, all sold more than 20 years ago. Yes, certainly a mixed lot, but with blades that were sufficiently similar to be grouped as a style, and with mounts that were sufficiently similar to be grouped as a style.

Can we identify a precise cultural origin of Rafngard's example?
No, we cannot. Theories and ideas are not facts.
Can we identify a broad general geographic origin?
Very probably, yes.

Is it possible for people from this broad geographic area to provide an identity for this style of blade, when correctly mounted?
In my experience, yes it is.

So even though the name that I use might not be the exact name that is used in the exact geographic area of origin, I will continue to use this name, for the time being. One of my problems being that I do not know exactly where this style of blade originates --- seems like nobody else does either.

Since we do not yet know with any certainty the precise geographic and cultural origin for this style of blade in general, and for Rafngard's example in particular, I would most gently suggest that here we have a golden opportunity for a committed student of SE Asian edged weaponry to establish some sort of reputation for himself. Of course, he would need to first learn conversational Bahasa Indonesia as a bare minimum, and then be prepared to carry out the necessary field research , but I am certain the rewards from this endeavour would be immense.

When I learn of the correct origin, and the correct name, I might begin to use that name if it differs from the one I presently use. But then we still might have a problem, because in Jawa and Bali, names for the same artefact can change when you move from one side of the street to the other. It might be similar in Sumatra.
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Old 19th July 2018, 11:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
... I would most gently suggest that here we have a golden opportunity for a committed student of SE Asian edged weaponry to establish some sort of reputation for himself. Of course, he would need to first learn conversational Bahasa Indonesia as a bare minimum, and then be prepared to carry out the necessary field research , but I am certain the rewards from this endeavour would be immense.

When I learn of the correct origin, and the correct name, I might begin to use that name if it differs from the one I presently use. But then we still might have a problem, because in Jawa and Bali, names for the same artefact can change when you move from one side of the street to the other. It might be similar in Sumatra.



Dear Alan,

You are in direct contact with the culture where these weapons originate.
Which sounds as a pré. But how embedded in todays culture are these weapons ? Are people in Indonesia wearing beladau / jambiyo type daggers nowadays ? If not, how much value can you give to the name someone today will give to a dagger that dates from 100 years back ?

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 20th July 2018, 01:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Thanks for the stats - sounds like a fair light blade, indeed.


Absolutely, I suspect this must have been like a long straight (well, curved, really) razor, once upon a time.

Given the hilt, any thoughts on how this may have been wielded? I know that my big, ham-like, American hands are too big for the to fit between the blade and the root. But I know this is not the case for many Indonesians.

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 20th July 2018, 02:36 AM   #17
A. G. Maisey
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Willem, from one perspective your comment is absolutely defensible, but from a different perspective it is not at all capable of defence.

The name that I have used "beladau" is a name that some people who come from Sumatra have given me, my memory is that it was given readily, without hesitation, which if I reflect upon it, and consider the syllables of which it is composed, could indicate that it is a generic, similar to our "fork", or "pot", or "carriage". Possibly to these people it was a case of any dagger with a curve was a "beladau".

However, that is what they named it as, and since we do not know the precise location it came from, nor the precise society or culture it came from, nor the precise period of time it came from, and we do know the broader geographical area that it came from, and that people from that broader geographical area named it as "beladau", then to my way of thinking, "beladau" is as good a name as any, until such time as a more distinct classification can be established.

The thing is this:- to people in the broader cultural area it is not an unknown object, they recognise it, they have a name for it.
Is that name the name that was used in a different place, and at a different time?
I do not know, but it is the more or less general name that some people from the same broad cultural area that gave birth to the object have used to name that object in the current era.

In the case of Rafngard's example I am only talking about the blade, the dress this blade is in, is nothing like the dress that was on the examples I used to have

We can draw a comparison with the keris here.
The keris originated in the Early Classical Period in Central Jawa. At that time we do not know what it was called, in fact, we do not really know what the name of the Modern Keris was prior to the replacement of the Old Javanese language with Middle Javanese and Modern Javanese.

We do have a few possibilities, but it seems as if the name used for the object that we now know as "keris" in fact had different names that depended upon mode of use, or mode of wear. This is exactly similar to the name used for a keris in Modern Javanese. In the lowest level, ngoko, "keris" is quite OK in all applications referring to a keris, but in other levels of Javanese, other words are used to refer to the keris, and those other usages are dependent upon mode of wear, and context.

Then, of course we have the other names used for a keris in the various societies where it occurs in the modern era.

I think I first used the term "name game" some time during the 1970's. It occurred to me after my first few visits to Jawa and the beginning of my education in what keris and other objects were really all about. I derive no less amusement from watching this game now than I began to derive from watching it, and participating in it, during the 1970's and before. It is a rather futile game, but like all games it does amuse the participants, and more than a few of the players take it very seriously. Mostly these days I just enjoy watching it.

Still, all that said, for the class of daggers that use the blade style of Rafngard's incorrectly mounted dagger, I'll stay with "beladau" until we can justifiably endorse a name that is better able to be verified.

The name that others may chose to use is entirely their own choice.

I do hope this discussion does continue, I'm enjoying watching it, and it is, I think, probably the first time in a very extended period that I have been a player in this sport --- as I have said, its a futile pursuit, but it is good fun.

Like golf:- hit a little ball, chase it, hit it again, and eventually it goes down a hole, or maybe into the bushes. Either way you don't get to beat it to death.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 20th July 2018 at 03:53 AM.
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