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Old 31st January 2020, 03:03 PM   #1
Pieje
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Default Tombak spearhead

I bought this tombak spearhead out of curiosity (29 cm).
Was mounted on a simple wooden stick (total length ca. 150 cm).

Not my region of interest, but I did some homework.
Could be Javanese?
The oxidation of the wooden scabbard makes me think of 19th century.
The blade, btw very thick at its base, seems older?

Any corrections or additional info is highly appreciated!
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Old 31st January 2020, 04:37 PM   #2
kai
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Hello Pieje,

Congrats, this is a good tombak, most probably Jawa. Quite likely to be 19th c. or older - there seems to be quite a bit of loss due to erosion which is to be expected. Alan may be able to narrow down the age/origin.

The scabbard seems to be made from cheap wood which tends to age quicker. I'd guess this is a 20th c. replacement.

You don't show the wooden pole - is it modern?

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Kai
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Old 31st January 2020, 06:03 PM   #3
A. G. Maisey
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Yes, Jawa.

Stylistically the metuk looks like Mataram, as for age, I'd say pre-1850. I tend to be cautious about age.

Tombak very, very rarely come with anything like an original scabbard, the reason being that whereas keris were primarily talismanic in a combat situation, the tombak was the weapon of choice, thus as soon as, or before, the action started the scabbard was removed and just left where it lay.
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Old 31st January 2020, 08:22 PM   #4
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This tombak gives the appearance of having a separate methuk sp? .
What is the significance of this separate ring or collar; could it be compared to the function of the gonjo of a keris?

Very nice tombak.
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Old 31st January 2020, 10:05 PM   #5
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I am fascinated by the pattern-welding on this spear. I've only seen similar straight line pattern-welding on the Illerup Adal swords pictured below from vols 11 and 12 of Illerup Adal (and on an early medieval sword in my collection, the authenticity of which I am divided about).

Is pattern-welding like this common on tombaks? Is similar pattern-welding common on other items from a particularly time and place?
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Old 31st January 2020, 11:02 PM   #6
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Thanks Kai, Alan & Rick!
The pole is a simple wooden stick, I guess same age as the scabbard. Iíll make a picture tomorrow in daylight. The methuk doesnít seem to be a separate piece.
Curious about the straight lines too, as I noticed a different pattern on most examples I have found on the net.
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Old 31st January 2020, 11:11 PM   #7
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I'm wondering if this blade might be of piled rod construction. Looks that way to me. Perhaps our Indonesian/keris experts might comment on that technique in relation to Indonesian weapons.

Ian.
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Old 31st January 2020, 11:31 PM   #8
A. G. Maisey
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In respect of the method of manufacture of this tombak, all we're looking at is a simple mlumah billet, that is, random pattern a la wos wutah, ngulit semangko, etc., that has been forged to 90 degrees from its original orientation, so the effect when it is forged to shape is that the edges of the contrasting material appear on the surface, rather than the faces of the material. In Javanese tosan aji this is pretty common. We call it "pamor adeg", ie, "standing pamor".

Rick, the earliest form of keris, the Keris Buda also used a metuk, which eventually became the mendak, I suspect this change occurred because the force of a blow lessened as the Modern Keris developed, the Modern Keris was used in a rapier-like fashion, the Keris Buda was used with a downwards hammer blow. The mendak can act as a sort of shock absorber, by crumpling or collapsing if the point were to strike something unyielding. The Keris Buda was supported by the edge of the palm, as opposed to the Modern Keris being held in a pinch grip. All this finessing around with strike force is obviously unnecessary with a spear or lance.

Admitted, it is often very difficult to get a clear impression of details from a photograph, but from what I believe I can see in the photo, I do think this metuk is mechanically fitted, not integral.
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Old 1st February 2020, 02:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Admitted, it is often very difficult to get a clear impression of details from a photograph, but from what I believe I can see in the photo, I do think this metuk is mechanically fitted, not integral.


Thanks Alan.
Let's posit then that this is a mechanically fitted metuk; what would be the reason for its not being an integral part of the tombak; is it solely for some mechanical advantage; or possibly for some esoteric reason like a stopper in a bottle meant to contain an isi or spirit that may have inhabited the weapon?
It certainly requires considerably more work to make and fit a metuk rather than to just thicken the base and shape the metuk integrally on the blade.

Last edited by Rick : 1st February 2020 at 02:28 AM.
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Old 1st February 2020, 02:20 AM   #10
A. G. Maisey
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I do not know why Rick, but a tombak that has an integral metuk is usually considered to be a lower quality tombak.

I'm only guessing here, but it might have been because of some limitations in method of manufacture. The old-time smiths of Jawa did not have access to similar tools back in the 14th, 15th century, as what they had later, after European contact.

It just might have been easier for them to fit that metuk rather than to carve it from a large solid. This mechanically fitted metuk then became what was expected, maybe it was recognised as a sign of quality, so even after they could forge more finely, they continued to fit the metuk rather than forge it integrally.
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Old 1st February 2020, 11:01 AM   #11
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Here is the wooden pole, for those interested (120cm).
I had a closer look and metuk seems indeed mechanically fitted.
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Last edited by Pieje : 1st February 2020 at 08:29 PM.
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