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Old 7th December 2006, 02:26 AM   #1
Robert
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Just picked this up and now would like to know what it is. The sword is 24" long and the blade is 1-1/2' wide at its widest. These are the pictures from the auction and the only ones I have. Is this a tourist piece or the real thing? Thanks for any help that is offered.

Robert
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Old 7th December 2006, 05:45 AM   #2
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Robert,

It's a sword from West Sumba.
For some reason they seem to be more rare than the Kabeala of East Sumba.
When I was in Sumba, in the early 90's, at the country side people still carried the Kabeala as an everyday blade.
But for your blade I don't think it was for everyday use?
I never saw anybody carry them anyway.
What I found interesting there was that only the undressed blades were sold at the market place, no complete swords.
Please post better pictures when you recieve it.


Michael
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Old 7th December 2006, 09:09 PM   #3
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Never seen one before like this, thank you for sharing.
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Old 11th December 2006, 08:25 PM   #4
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Well the sword arrived today and apparently the previous owner polished all the brass and copper fittings and then applied a coat of polyurethane to keep them from tarnishing. Now I have to figure out how to remove it without causing any damage to the rest of the wood. I have not been able to find any information other than what VVV has already offered. I am hoping that the good people of the forum will help me with further information on this item.

Blade length is 19-1/8"
Blade at widest point 1-7/16"
Blade at hilt 15/16"
Blade thickness at hilt 1/4"
Hilt length 5-1/16"
Scabbard length 25-1/16"

Robert
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Old 11th December 2006, 10:08 PM   #5
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Robert,

I have only seen one like this before (in Leiden).
It looks like the real thing and a very good one too.
If you ever get tired of it please let me know
Can't find my source at the moment but it's probably for ceremonial use.
In West Sumba, unlike East Sumba, they like to show their wealth more open in public.

Michael
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Old 11th December 2006, 11:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Coleman
Well the sword arrived today and apparently the previous owner polished all the brass and copper fittings and then applied a coat of polyurethane to keep them from tarnishing. Now I have to figure out how to remove it without causing any damage to the rest of the wood.

I would keep it as it - more protective than trying to get it off. If you really need to get it off, try acetone, but as you mentioned, it may discolor the wood. Leaving it as is is probably the best and safest course of action.
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Old 12th December 2006, 05:29 PM   #7
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Michael and Jose,
Thank you both very much for your help and opinions on this sword. As it appears that no one else is interested in this would either one of you like to hazard a guess on the age of this item? Thanks again for all your help. Michael, if I decide not to keep this I will let you know.


Robert
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Old 12th December 2006, 06:03 PM   #8
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Thanks Robert,

With 190 views I guess some others were interested in your rare sword?
The problem is that it isn't documented in any of the major works.
And Sumba is not one of the main destinations to visit when in Indonesia.
I don't know what's the situation nowadays but when I was there they had in average 2 foreigners per month visiting, on the whole island.

Michael
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Old 12th December 2006, 06:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Coleman
Thank you both very much for your help and opinions on this sword. As it appears that no one else is interested in this ....
Robert



Hi Robert, as one of the 'watchers' I can say there is interest..... unfortunately, I have no knowledge of this fine piece and I suspect it is the same for many of the others.......
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Old 12th December 2006, 06:38 PM   #10
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I'm sorry if I have offended anyone. I need to proof read my posts better. I only meant that as of this point that no one else had commented and was just looking for an idea on age from the ones that had. Again my apologies if I have offended anyone.


Robert
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Old 12th December 2006, 06:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Coleman
I'm sorry if I have offended anyone.

Robert



Hi Robert, no offence taken , I do understand how frustrating it can be when answers do not seem to be 'forth coming'. As collectors many of us have a passion for the things we treasure and I think...for many of us....with a new acqusition....we want to obtain all the information we can ...in the shortest time . I believe many can 'empathise' with you.

Regards David
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Old 12th December 2006, 07:29 PM   #12
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I have pieces that were covered in polyurethane varnish. As long as they have not been painted with oil based paints which your item has not. A commercial varnish remover is okay. Any original organic lacquer should be okay but I would not let the stuff stay on too long on stain wood and the like. I have removed varnish from old blades and the patina of the blade prior to varnishing has always been there.
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Old 13th December 2006, 11:49 PM   #13
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Tim, thank you for the advice on the removal of the coating. I think at this point in time that I will leave it "as is" until I get more information on its age and history. Thank you all again for helping me with this.

Robert
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Old 15th December 2006, 06:17 AM   #14
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OK, here are my next questions. What does anyone think went into the grooves on the scabbard, woven rattan bands or do you think that they are they just there as decoration? I also have some brass sheeting the same thickness as used for the clover shaped decorations on the hilt. Would it be a good idea to replace the missing and broken ones or just leave them as they are?
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Old 15th December 2006, 06:31 AM   #15
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I don't think they used rattan on Sumba.
It's some other fiber material at f.i. the scabbards of the Kabeala of East Sumba.

Michael

PS PM your mail if you want reference pictures.
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Old 15th December 2006, 06:58 AM   #16
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VVV, I have sent a PM to you with my with e-mail address. Thank you for your offer of pictures as they would really help. You used f.i. in your reply and I hate to admit that I do not understand what that means. Could you please explain? Thank you again for all your help.


Robert
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Old 15th December 2006, 08:18 AM   #17
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f.i. = for instance
You have mail.

Michael
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Old 15th December 2006, 01:26 PM   #18
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Michael, I cannot thank you enough for the pictures. The only real difference that I can see between the two is that the one in the picture you sent has a total of 21 copper and brass bands on the scabbard while mine has a total of 25. Even the clover decorations are broken like mine. Do you know what the hole in the very end of the scabbard was for? Do you know if the peoples of East and West Samba dressed the same or was there a difference in fashion between the two? Again my thanks for your help.


Robert
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Old 15th December 2006, 01:46 PM   #19
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Yes,

Yours is better. I don't know why there is a hole on your scabbard.
From what I have seen on just a few old West Sumba pictures I can't see any major difference in dress.
But I am neither a fashion nor a Sumba expert.
Try to find the book Islands and Ancestors by Newton & Barbier if you want to learn more about West Sumba, as well as the culture of other islands.

Good luck,

Michael
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Old 15th December 2006, 04:27 PM   #20
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I'm ok with replacing missing brass and copper parts, called restoration (as long as done in the same style).
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Old 22nd March 2007, 04:20 PM   #21
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Hi,
I'm bumping this in hopes that someone has come across any new information. This sword was kindly pointed out to me by Albert. The scabbard and grip are quite similar in style to mine but there was little information with it. Other than this one new picture I have no other information. HELP!





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Old 9th October 2007, 05:56 AM   #22
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The only reference to a sword from West Sumba that I can find is in The legend of the people of Wanokaka in the village of Wai Wuanga about the PASOLA WANOKAKA. In the legend one brother has to repay the other everything that he had payed for the wife that he stole from him. One of these things was a sword (pahori). So far I have not been able to find any other information on the term pahori or this sword. For those interested here is a link to the story http://www.petra.ac.id/eastern/ntt/wstsumba/pasola.htm

Robert

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Old 11th January 2008, 10:23 PM   #23
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I'm bringing up this older thread because I recently purchased a lot of swords from Sumba on auction, and one of them was from West Sumba. The seller said that they were gotten from an estate sale, so its possible that, age-wise, they are contemporary to one another. First picures of all three swords. The two Kabeala don't strike me as being that old; one I *think* is made of spring steel, the other blade might be older. Both Kabeala handles are made of horn, polished shiny. Neither sword or handle shows much wear.

The West Sumba sword shows more wear, but sadly is missing all of its fittings. Handle and scabbard are wood, rough in places, possibly where there was metal over it. Handle has punch marks in the wood, so metal was probaly put on the handle and then the design punched into the metal. Also unusual is the silver-colored "inlay" in the blade. It certainly isn't pamor (its my impression that most Sumba blades are not pamored?) but rather just irregular lines put into the blade, almost as if trying (crudely) to look like pamor. There are also fairly deep cracks and fissures at about the 1/3 point, either places where the inlay has fallen out, or some other damage.

Finally some other random references to swords from West Sumba:

From here: "The men of West Sumba still wear the traditional parang sword as a part of everyday ware."

From here: "There are a chain of rituals related to the West Sumba occupations: (1) Ritual to sharpen parang swords (urata patama keto) to ensure that the parang sword or knives function properly while butchering cattle or while in used at the field."

From here: "PREPARATIONS FOR THE PURUNGU TA KADONGA RATU
The Purungu ta Kadonga Ratu takes place every other year from July 10 to July 23 in odd-number years, preceded by preparatory activities: ... 4. Extending of invitations to all the people of each clan, with the display of the ancestral spear, Umbu Koda, and the ancestral sword, Umbu Paku Togu, followed by a sacred dog, as endorsement."

Hope something here is of help to someone! Any additional information would, as always, be greatly appreciated.

--Radleigh
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Old 12th January 2008, 12:19 AM   #24
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Hi Radleigh,
Congratulations on your purchase!! Thank you for posting these and for the links. I've seen a couple of them but not all. You seem to have better luck in locating information and references on these than I've had. When you get tired of looking at the West Sumba sword you can box it up and send it to me and if you think it might get lonely on the trip you could put one or both of the others in the box with it. Thanks again.


Robert
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Old 16th January 2008, 03:14 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Coleman
Hi,
I'm bumping this in hopes that someone has come across any new information. This sword was kindly pointed out to me by Albert. The scabbard and grip are quite similar in style to mine but there was little information with it. Other than this one new picture I have no other information. HELP!

Robert
Dear Robert and forumite

I have documentation about parang sumbawa from my personal archive, mostly in bahasa. Please give me couple of days to get additional info and I will asked my wife to made english translation. I have a close friend who borned and spend this childhood in Bima, Sumbawa and his family still living in Bima, I'll try to get some detail info from him about parang sumbawa.

As far as I know, parang still used in daily activity and also for welcoming dance. This is a pic of welcoming dance, as you can see that old man is running with a parang in his hand and almost swinging the parang to us. An expression of welcoming guest
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Old 17th January 2008, 12:32 AM   #26
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Hi Utami,
Thank you very much for the information and picture that you have posted. I am really looking forward to hearing more from you on the back ground of this sword. Can you possibly give an idea to the possible age of this sword? Is it a ceremonial sword, a show of wealth or prestige or an actual weapon used for combat? Again my thanks to you, your friends and family for any and all help offered to me in trying to identify this sword.

Robert

Last edited by Robert Coleman : 17th January 2008 at 06:26 AM.
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Old 17th January 2008, 09:49 PM   #27
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Thanks, Noviar!

Quote:
An expression of welcoming guest

That's straightforward: As a friendly visitor you're not supposed to draw your own sword.

If you're still standing after that welcome, you can consider yourself being a guest...
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Old 17th January 2008, 10:18 PM   #28
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Hello Radleigh,

Congrats, that's a really nice one!

Quote:
Also unusual is the silver-colored "inlay" in the blade. It certainly isn't pamor (its my impression that most Sumba blades are not pamored?) but rather just irregular lines put into the blade, almost as if trying (crudely) to look like pamor.

Actually, that is pamor. This more roughly forged pamor seems to be more common on the "outer" islands, possibly done by tribal bladesmiths. You need to have a lot of skill and experience to do pattern welding under rural conditions but this ain't kraton quality, of course.

Quote:
There are also fairly deep cracks and fissures at about the 1/3 point, either places where the inlay has fallen out, or some other damage.

I reckon you don't plan to actually use this sword. Thus, that fatal break won't be of much concern.

Weird that the scabbard tips of those latter 2 pieces have 2 holes each (possibly from nails for display purposes? ). And Robert's piece has an even weirder hole...


BTW, I wouldn't be surprised if all 3 West Sumba blades shown here would date to the 19th century - all look like genuine, old pieces. As always, fittings may be younger than the blades but even those overcleaned ones on Robert's piece looks good to me.

Robert, have you considered giving the blade a light etch?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 18th January 2008, 12:42 AM   #29
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Hello Kai,
Yes I have thought about doing a light etch on the blade but have been waiting until I could get a camera that would be able to take clear pictures of the results. I have just today bought a new camera that I'm hoping will do a nice job of taking close-ups. What would you suggest to be the best way to etch this piece, vinegar or something else? In the photo below the third dancer from the left I think might have the answer to the wierd hole in the tip of the scabbard on my sword. If it is a scabbard that is showing it looks like there might be a tiger bell attached to it at that point.
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Old 18th January 2008, 07:08 AM   #30
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Hello Robert,

Yes, I'd opt for hot vinegar as a first try (first degrease and clean thoroughly with diluted vinegar or pineapple juice).

Tiger bell or other amulets/etc. might be the answer although that's a mighty big hole for attaching a string or two...

Regards,
Kai
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