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Old 3rd October 2020, 09:25 AM   #1
thomas hauschild
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Default Keris bargain

Bad, rainy weather in germany, bank holiday due to reunion-day. Good time to share some pieces.

I got this as a real bargain. All the woodwork seems to be new but of a good quality ( with some fake wormholes lol ) but I like the blade that seems to have some nickel content. The concrete plates are square 40 cm to have an imagination of the size. Java ? Any comments will be welcome.

Best Thomas
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Old 3rd October 2020, 01:08 PM   #2
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Hello Thomas,

The fittings are recent examples of a more modern Bali style that was mainly worn by dancers/performers. The dots are not supposed to be wormholes but rather emphasize/contrast the negative space - usually these are more densely placed...

From the limited pics, the blade might well be from Bali.

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Old 3rd October 2020, 01:20 PM   #3
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The blade looks old and more than 40 cm long, but I would rather attribute it to Java North Coast and not Bali (thickness, shape, style of greneng, pejetan, deep tikel alis, pamor pattern, etc.).
In your place I would replace the recent hilt & scabbard
Regards

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Old 3rd October 2020, 03:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
The blade looks old and more than 40 cm long, but I would rather attribute it to Java North Coast and not Bali (thickness, shape, style of greneng, pejetan, and deep tikel alis, pamor pattern, etc.).
In your place I would replace the recent hilt & scabbard
Regards



Yes I will. With 30 for that piece there will be some potencial left for a good hilt & scabbard
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Old 3rd October 2020, 03:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Hello Thomas,

The fittings are recent examples of a more modern Bali style that was mainly worn by dancers/performers. The dots are not supposed to be wormholes but rather emphasize/contrast the negative space - usually these are more densely placed...

From the limited pics, the blade might well be from Bali.

Kai, i have also heard for some time that this form of dress may have originally developed from a form worm by dancers. I have even used that description of this dress form in the past since i do not like referring to any keris as a "tourist" keris. That said, however, i do not believe i have ever seen a photograph of a Balinese dance with a keris that uses this dress form. Have you?
I would say that even if we can find some actual evidence that this dress form was used at one time for a legitimate Balinese dance or stage form, it seems more than likely to me that the intent an purpose of this particular example was never for any kind of cultural use in dance or theatre, but rather to house a keris intended for those who travel for pleasure.
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Old 4th October 2020, 01:53 AM   #6
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Old blade, West Jawa/North Coast.

Dress is as Kai has stated.

This style did start as a dancer's dress. I have seen a couple that came into Australia before WWII, but the dress style began to proliferate with the tourism boom that began in 1970's.

Two or three reasons for this.

Bali keris have never been as prolific as Javanese keris, less people in Bali and the Balinese people themselves lost faith in the power of their ancestors to protect them after the puputans. There is a story in the keris trade in Jawa that Japanese took thousands of keris out of Bali during WWII and later.

However, there is a continuing need for dress keris and performers' keris in Bali, and that need has often been filled by Javanese keris that are still in Javanese dress. Still, today, you can see the Balinese cultural police who enforce the rules during Hari Nyepi and other important occasions wearing Javanese keris, not Balinese keris.

So this rather exuberant dress style we see here was developed strictly for performers. But the tourists liked it so much that after a kecak dance or whatever they wanted to buy the performers' keris. So this keris style then morphed into a Balinese souvenir.

But it did not start that way.

Personally, I would not change anything on this keris. It is an excellent example of its type. Blade is nothing special, just a blade to hold the dress together.

Apart from which, how do we get a nicely made, nicely fitted wrongko for this blade unless we send it or take it to Jawa? In the Time of Covid? I should be in Jawa right now, but with the situation there I don't reckon I'll be back for another two or three years, minimum.

Of its type, a nice keris.
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Old 4th October 2020, 09:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Old blade, West Jawa/North Coast.

Personally, I would not change anything on this keris. It is an excellent example of its type. Blade is nothing special, just a blade to hold the dress together.

Apart from which, how do we get a nicely made, nicely fitted wrongko for this blade unless we send it or take it to Jawa? In the Time of Covid? I should be in Jawa right now, but with the situation there I don't reckon I'll be back for another two or three years, minimum.



Thank you Alan.
As a collector, I try to get matching pieces and would feel reluctant to mix an old javanese blade with a new balinese scabbard. This blade would look quite nice after cleaning and warangan IMO.
Regarding the subject of shipping kris parcels to and from Java, I am glad to report that I recently received a large parcel from DHL Surabaya without any problem and at a very reasonable cost. However I did not ship any parcel since the Covid Period.
Regards
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Old 4th October 2020, 01:13 PM   #8
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Jean, many years ago my standards were perhaps not so far different to your own, but over time my ideas have changed. I have learnt that to the people in the two keris bearing societies that I know best, this approach of matching blade to dress is not quite so important to them as it is to collectors from outside the societies.

It is true that if a Javanese man wishes or needs to wear a keris as an item of formal dress, then that man is more or less compelled to wear a keris in dress that matches with the dress that the man himself is wearing, and this approach is intensified within kraton societies.

But the further one moves away from the influence of a kraton, the less important this. When we move into rural districts in Central Jawa a keris is keris, the compulsion of matching dress disappears for most people.

In Bali for at least the last 50 years a similar situation has prevailed. As I have previously mentioned, men in positions of authority in Bali do not hesitate to wear keris in dress other than that which we would recognise as Balinese.

My own approach as a collector is that if a keris is dressed acceptably for the society from which it comes, then it is not really my place to over-rule the owners of that society and change that dress in order to satisfy my own standards.

I do acknowledge that your standards of collecting are pretty much the norm for the vast bulk of collectors who come from outside keris bearing societies, and I can understand this approach.
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Old 5th October 2020, 12:19 PM   #9
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Have one very similar; it's almost identical except in a few details. I acquired it sans keris. Have a few Balinese keris kamardikan which it may or may not fit. I haven't yet gone so far as to check if it will fit any of them. They all have what I'd call "modest and conservative" dress. I've never so much as even considered trying it for fit on the one keris Bali sepuh in my care; it is conservatively and appropriately dressed. This sort of scabbard I might call analogous to the "Slaytanic Wehrmacht" T-shirt. I had it packed in my suitcase for my trip to Grandma's (I was somewhere between 14 and 16 at the time); my Mom rooted through my suitcase sometime before I boarded the plane and surreptitiously removed it. I've never forgiven her for her underhandedness and perfidy. If my Grandmother had not left this world, I'd wear a black shirt with blue tie, which I know would have met with her (and my Mother's) unhesitating approval.
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Old 5th October 2020, 03:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Old blade, West Jawa/North Coast.

Dress is as Kai has stated.

This style did start as a dancer's dress. I have seen a couple that came into Australia before WWII, but the dress style began to proliferate with the tourism boom that began in 1970's.

Two or three reasons for this.

Bali keris have never been as prolific as Javanese keris, less people in Bali and the Balinese people themselves lost faith in the power of their ancestors to protect them after the puputans. There is a story in the keris trade in Jawa that Japanese took thousands of keris out of Bali during WWII and later.

However, there is a continuing need for dress keris and performers' keris in Bali, and that need has often been filled by Javanese keris that are still in Javanese dress. Still, today, you can see the Balinese cultural police who enforce the rules during Hari Nyepi and other important occasions wearing Javanese keris, not Balinese keris.

So this rather exuberant dress style we see here was developed strictly for performers. But the tourists liked it so much that after a kecak dance or whatever they wanted to buy the performers' keris. So this keris style then morphed into a Balinese souvenir.

But it did not start that way.

Personally, I would not change anything on this keris. It is an excellent example of its type. Blade is nothing special, just a blade to hold the dress together.

Apart from which, how do we get a nicely made, nicely fitted wrongko for this blade unless we send it or take it to Jawa? In the Time of Covid? I should be in Jawa right now, but with the situation there I don't reckon I'll be back for another two or three years, minimum.

Of its type, a nice keris.

Hi Alan. I completely agree with you that this re-dressing this keris doesn't make too much sense, especially if the sheaths made specifically to accommodate this blade or re-fitted well to accept it.
I do not doubt you story of the history of this dress and this is similar to what i have already heard. However, i still cannot recap ever seeing photographs of performers with this keris dress in hand (or sash). Do you have any photographs that establish this history? It seems more than likely that performers would be photographed, even as far back as early 19th century. So i would think there should be some photographic evidence to support this history.
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Old 5th October 2020, 09:46 PM   #11
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No David, in fact I cannot recall seeing dancers in Bali wearing keris with any style of dress.

I guess there are probably a lot of photos of dancers with a keris in hand, such as with your example, but what usually happens with the scabbard is that once the keris is drawn the scabbard gets dropped.

Unlike Jawa where there is plenty of opportunity to see people in traditional dress, and wearing keris, in Bali since the 1960's, there is virtually no public display of keris, and about the only times I've seen keris worn in Bali is at weddings, and by the cultural police during enforcement of rules & order at Hari Nyepi.

The Barong Dance is the one that people mostly associate with the keris, I've seen a few performances of this dance and usually the keris that are used by the dancers are handed out by a priest.

There is something else to remember too, and that is that although you might see a dancer wearing a keris before a performance, unless there is the need for a keris in the actual performance, and this is rare, he will not wear the keris while performing.

In the days of film ordinary people counted the photos they took, because each shot cost real money. Now, in the age of the digicam the tourists flock into Bali --- or they did, pre-Covid --- and many of these tourists go on a clickfest from the moment the plane starts its descent into Ngurah Rai airport.

They don't stop until they get back on the plane to go home. They literally see Bali through the viewfinder and go home with 20,000 images. A lot of these images get processed & put up on the internet.

How many pictures can you find on the net that show dancers in Bali wearing keris?
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Old 7th October 2020, 03:30 PM   #12
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Not from the net but from my film role, from the Barong dance.

Apart from Weddings noted, I've images of keris worn in funeral processions too.

Gavin
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Old 8th October 2020, 03:19 AM   #13
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Nice photo Gavin. Most of the the photos i can find on the web of dancers with keris do not show the sarung. But from the hilts it is clear to see that they don't use the same figurative hilt that is most often paired with these "dancer" sheaths. They are usually bondalan type hilts. I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean that the sheaths used weren't these "dancer sheaths", but it certainly seems less likely.
Most often the examples i can find are from the Barong Dance, with keris out and pinned towards their wielders, but i have also found some others performances as well.
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Old 8th October 2020, 03:53 AM   #14
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these photo does send shiver down my spine. It looks painful.
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Old 8th October 2020, 04:21 AM   #15
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Gavin & David, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe these beautiful photos were all taken during the last 20 years or so? Like, yesterday.

In order to verify that what I have said in previous posts, not only in this thread, but I have posted similar comments previously, we would really need photos from the days of film, probably from pre-1980, as my memory is that before 1990 this highly decorative type of dress was not being made, and most of the more recent examples didn't even use keris blades, they used flat iron, or even thinner material, that was cut into the shape of a keris and the "pamor" pattern was batiked onto the blade.

There is another thing that is worth mentioning too. The dances that are staged in the tourist centres, like Ubud, Kuta, and all around South Bali, are 90% or better for the tourists. To witness the genuine performances you need to get away from the tourist areas. People do not realise just how much the tourist presence has changed Bali. Even the New Year's Eve Ogoh-Ogoh parades have been developed as a tourist attraction. The dance performances that are staged in villages and population centres that are not a part of the "Tourist World" are closer to reality. In these more "grass roots" performances even the keris dancers in the Barong dance use real keris, not ones with blades that have been annealed, and the Legong dancers and Sanghyang Dedari dancers are genuine.

But if you really want to see a real, gut twisting performance you need to go up to Ponorogo in Jawa and see the Reog.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 8th October 2020 at 05:26 AM. Reason: just took reading lessons
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Old 8th October 2020, 04:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Gavin & Anthony, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe these beautiful photos were all taken during the last 20 years or so? Like, yesterday.

In order to verify that what I have said in previous posts, not only in this thread, but I have posted similar comments previously, we would really need photos from the days of film, probably from pre-1980, as my memory is that before 1990 this highly decorative type of dress was not being made, and most of the more recent examples didn't even use keris blades, they used flat iron, or even thinner material, that was cut into the shape of a keris and the "pamor" pattern was batiked onto the blade.

There is another thing that is worth mentioning too. The dances that are staged in the tourist centres, like Ubud, Kuta, and all around South Bali, are 90% or better for the tourists. To witness the genuine performances you need to get away from the tourist areas. People do not realise just how much the tourist presence has changed Bali. Even the New Year's Eve Ogoh-Ogoh parades have been developed as a tourist attraction. The dance performances that are staged in villages and population centres that are not a part of the "Tourist World" are closer to reality. In these more "grass roots" performances even the keris dancers in the Barong dance use real keris, not ones with blades that have been annealed, and the Legong dancers and Sanghyang Dedari dancers are genuine.

But if you really want to see a real, gut twisting performance you need to go up to Ponorogo in Jawa and see the Reog.




[QUOTE=A. G. Maisey]Gavin & Anthony, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe these beautiful photos were all taken during the last 20 years or so? Like, yesterday.


Hi Alan, good day.

No idea about the photo as it was not posted by me. And thanks for the info about the performance in Bali and Jawa, really useful for me esp. i will visit these places in future.

Hopefully the virus outbreak can be contain soon so that I can visit Indonesia.
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Old 8th October 2020, 05:11 AM   #17
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Ah well Anthony, that's another of my deficiencies uncovered, I never did learn to read very well.

As to when we might get to go to Jawa, Bali and other places in Indonesia. My personal opinion is about two to five years for somebody prepared to take a risk.

I'm in contact with people in Central Jawa, East Jawa and South Bali almost every day, and things over there are in a real mess.

Here in Australia we probably will not see a vaccine until towards the end of next year, and that's if our expectations are realised. That vaccine will perhaps give us a 60% level of protection for a period of around 2 to 3 months.

In Indonesia there is not really any expectation that this contagion will be extinguished in anything like two or three years. So even if the two to three year prediction is more or less realistic, do I want to risk a 40% chance of infection?

I don't think so.

I might get back there for my 90th birthday.

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Old 8th October 2020, 07:44 AM   #18
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a pic from the book called "Bali" edit in 1941 by Philip Hanson Hiss
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Old 8th October 2020, 07:58 AM   #19
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A nice old photo Marco, but what David wants to see is dress.

We know there are a lot of photos of dancers who are holding keris, but how many dancers are wearing keris, especially the particular style of keris dress that is under discussion?

I really cannot recall having seen any dancers in Bali actually dancing whilst wearing a keris. I might have, most of the dancing that I watched was over 20 years ago, mostly in the 1970's. I must admit, get a bit bored with Balinese performance art these days.
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Old 8th October 2020, 10:07 AM   #20
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Got it from ebay: Illustration from Le Petit Journal
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Old 8th October 2020, 03:54 PM   #21
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Which odd detail do you notice about the 3 krisses shown on the picture?
This tragical event caused a lot of resentment againt the Dutch in Europe at that time.
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Old 8th October 2020, 04:33 PM   #22
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The painter knew damaged keris with detached crosspieces stubbornly holding onto their blades...

Unless prepared on the spot (which was a rare exception), period artwork needs to be taken with a lump of salt rather than as evidence.
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Old 8th October 2020, 09:00 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
A nice old photo Marco, but what David wants to see is dress.

We know there are a lot of photos of dancers who are holding keris, but how many dancers are wearing keris, especially the particular style of keris dress that is under discussion?

I really cannot recall having seen any dancers in Bali actually dancing whilst wearing a keris. I might have, most of the dancing that I watched was over 20 years ago, mostly in the 1970's. I must admit, get a bit bored with Balinese performance art these days.

True Alan, i would like to see the sheaths used by dancers and actors to truly confirm that they were indeed used by them. However, what i do see in Anthony's 1941 image is again the use of the bondalan hilt form, not the figural hilts that we always see mated to these so-called dancer sheaths.
Here are two more images from famed photographer Henri Cariter-Bresson of the Barong dance from his time in Bali in 1949. Again we see the bondalan form. I cannot say i have ever seen a bondalan hilt matched with these "dancer" sarungs though.
Now this isn't conclusive evidence of course, but then, what are we basing the assumption that these sheaths actually were used by dancers and actors at some time? I don't doubt your remark that you "have seen a couple that came into Australia before WWII", but we can't really take that to the bank, now can we? Have you ever personally seen such dress actually used in Balinese theatre or dance in the past? Do you have access or photographs to these pre-WWII examples of this dress so that we can compare it to the tourist dress that we are assuming developed out of it? I mean, we have examples of keris dress that go back hundreds of years in collections. Surely then older examples of this dress should still exist somewhere. Again, i am not so much doubting their existence, and it makes a certain amount of sense that this dress form didn't just appear out of nowhere in the 1960s and was suddenly adopted for tourist keris, but i would like to see some actual evidence to confirm these suspicions.
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Old 8th October 2020, 10:08 PM   #24
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Thanks for those great photos David, Cartier-Bresson really was a master.
Incidentally, I doubt that we can consider the men who take part in the trance scene of the Barong Dance to be dancers.


David, I very much doubt that you ever will see any evidence that this flamboyant dress style was originally a style used by dancers. I believe it to be so, because the story that I have retold was told to me by a couple of different people many years apart.

The first time I heard it was from a gentleman who had bought it in Bali pre-WWII. I would have been about 20 at the time. His story was that he had bought it from a dancer after a performance. The second time I heard the story was maybe 10 or 12 years ago from an American gentleman who was living in Ubud, he just casually mentioned that the keris he had --- the style under discussion --- he had bought from an old Balinese man who had been a dancer --- his story had more to it than that, but the rest of that story is unimportant.

I have seen another of these keris that belonged to a very good friend of mine who passed away around 5 years ago. He had bought his example in the 1950's from a Dutchman who had lived in Indonesia and came to Australia when the Japanese occupied Bali. That keris went to auction last year.

In the 1960's and 1970's there were a lot of this style of keris for sale in the tourist centres of South Bali, the earlier ones I saw had real keris blades, the later ones had flat iron blades. In the 1960's & 1970's the Bali tourist trade was nothing like it became after about 1985. There were no big tourist emporiums, in Kuta there were a few scattered warungs along Jln. Pantai and Jln. Legian. Chemist shops & grocery stores sold cock spurs, keris and genuine dance masks. Most of the tourist trade was carried out by hawkers who went from losmen to losmen or waited in front of the few hotels. This keris style under discussion was something that you saw often.

I think it was probably sometime in the 1980's that this style of keris began to disappear in Bali. I don't think I've seen one for sale in Bali itself for 25 years at least.

As far as I'm concerned this keris style is not something that I would want as a part of my collection, it started as a theatrical prop, it became a souvenir. Not quite the sort of thing that relates to my own interests. But still, a good argument could be mounted that it is a part of Balinese culture and as such it deserves a place in a complete collection.

There are many things that are a part of the study of Javanese & Balinese culture & society that we cannot prove. We collect little snippets of information that sometimes link together and provide something that can be believed, and at other times those snippets never connect to anything at all and just float around with tails attached to them by people who have very good imaginations. (I do mean "tail", not "tale").

Because of my own experience, I choose to believe the "dancer" story that is associated with this keris style. What other people may believe is completely up to them. But I think one thing is certain, and that is that nobody is ever going to see a photograph of anybody in Bali, let alone a Balinese dancer, wearing this style of keris. Quite simply, the law of probability makes this very improbable.

Think about it:- a dancer in a small part of a very small island more than 50 years ago was photographed wearing a keris with a non-typical dress style, at a time when that small island had not become the tourist destination that it later became, and where dancers very seldom actually wear a keris whilst performing.

Believe or do not believe, its up to you.
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Old 9th October 2020, 05:21 PM   #25
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Yes I will. With 30 for that piece there will be some potencial left for a good hilt & scabbard


Hello Thomas,
This is an example of a suitable scabbard and hilt for your blade, but they are difficult to find.
Regards
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