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Old 16th June 2019, 02:20 PM   #1
Sajen
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Default Indonesian pedang for identification

I've recently purchased an Indonesian pedang which seems to have a great age. It has a black horn handle, sadly with an age crack, blade is of laminated construction. The blade has a concave cross section with a prominent spine. It is not a very fancy sword but I am curious to know from where exact this sword coming.

The sword is 63 cm long overall, blade alone 51,5 cm, spine is 8,5 mm thick behind the handle.

All comments are very welcome!
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Old 16th June 2019, 03:32 PM   #2
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Blade resembles a Moro bangkung on steroids
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Old 16th June 2019, 06:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Blade resembles a Moro bangkung on steroids



Yes, the blade shape resembles a bangkung blade. But the cross section is very different.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 16th June 2019, 08:19 PM   #4
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Hello Detlef,

Good one! (Let me know... )

I'm fairly sure this one is from Sulawesi. Would be good to see the blade stained - this might help to narrow things down.

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Kai
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Old 16th June 2019, 08:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Good one! (Let me know... )

I'm fairly sure this one is from Sulawesi. Would be good to see the blade stained - this might help to narrow things down.


Hello Kai,

Thank you for comment! Sulawesi was my guess as well but wasn't very sure since never have seen a similar one before. But the cross section with the very prominent spine I only know from very old Sulawesi blades.
An etch would need a good polish before and I still have a lot of blade polish jobs in front....

Will let you know in case......

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 16th June 2019, 10:56 PM   #6
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This sort of broad, general weaponry is a bit outside my knowledge base, so what I'm putting up for consideration cannot be taken as any sort of expert opinion, only general knowledge based on experience.

There is a Batak sword like this that has a hollow grind --- ie, concave blade face --- it has a name something like rudos, or rodos or similar. Over the years I've had several, and quality and detail varies a lot.

This style of bifurcated hilt is usually associated with Sumatra, lots of stylistic variations, but in other places, including Sulawesi it is somewhere between rare and non-existent.
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Old 17th June 2019, 08:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
There is a Batak sword like this that has a hollow grind --- ie, concave blade face --- it has a name something like rudos, or rodos or similar. Over the years I've had several, and quality and detail varies a lot.

This style of bifurcated hilt is usually associated with Sumatra, lots of stylistic variations, but in other places, including Sulawesi it is somewhere between rare and non-existent.


Hello Alan,

I think you mean the so called rudus (a search here will show some examples), there are similarities but also a lot of differents. It's also called cojang see for example here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...highlight=rudus
I will take a picture from this one side by side with my cojang for comparison.
The hilt was the reason that I was unsure about the Sulawesi origin since I never before have seen such a hilt by a Sulawesi sword.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 17th June 2019, 10:21 AM   #8
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To me it also looks like a Sulawesi blade, perhaps traded.

Do we see something similar in van Zonneveld's book, p. 137, picture 575 (a sword from Tanimbar)?
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Old 17th June 2019, 11:25 AM   #9
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Yes Gustav, that 575 picture is very similar.

A rudus Detlef? Just looked it up, seems its got a plethora of names, actually there is Javanese thing that has a blade like this too, but all the hilts I've seen on the Jawa ones are different to the hilt on this one.

Thing is this:- these blades don't just stay in one place, they move all over the entire region. I often feel that attaching a geographic location as point of manufacture is a little bit silly. Maybe the idea of "collected in" is a better way to describe things, or for stuff bought well outside the region where there are reliable examples from somewhere or other it could be "attributed to".
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Old 17th June 2019, 06:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Yes Gustav, that 575 picture is very similar.


Agreed!


Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
A rudus Detlef? Just looked it up, seems its got a plethora of names, actually there is Javanese thing that has a blade like this too, but all the hilts I've seen on the Jawa ones are different to the hilt on this one.


Have a look to van Zonneveld's book on page 115 and for co jang at page 40.


Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Thing is this:- these blades don't just stay in one place, they move all over the entire region. I often feel that attaching a geographic location as point of manufacture is a little bit silly. Maybe the idea of "collected in" is a better way to describe things, or for stuff bought well outside the region where there are reliable examples from somewhere or other it could be "attributed to".


Agree again with you Alan!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 17th June 2019, 07:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
To me it also looks like a Sulawesi blade, perhaps traded.

Do we see something similar in van Zonneveld's book, p. 137, picture 575 (a sword from Tanimbar)?


Hello Gustav,

A very good hint and information. The sword on page 137 look indeed very similar.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 17th June 2019, 07:34 PM   #12
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Here the promised comparison with a co jang from my collection. Please excuse the quality but I think that the different is visible.
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Old 17th June 2019, 10:27 PM   #13
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Hello Detlef,

Quote:
Thank you for comment! Sulawesi was my guess as well but wasn't very sure since never have seen a similar one before.

You're welcome! While Sumatra is famous for its bifurcated horn hilts, this type is none of those.

There are quite some bifurcated pommel types from Sulawesi, too (cp. Sumara); the more simple ones like this are quite rare though.


Quote:
But the cross section with the very prominent spine I only know from very old Sulawesi blades.

Certainly antique IMHO. Anything before the 19th c. would need some more data to convince me...


Quote:
An etch would need a good polish before and I still have a lot of blade polish jobs

I'd hesitate to give this blade a polish; a cleaning and a quick exploratory etch may do and look better than after a full polish.


Quote:
Will let you know in case......

Thanks!


Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th June 2019, 10:32 PM   #14
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Hello Detlef,

Quote:
The hilt was the reason that I was unsure about the Sulawesi origin since I never before have seen such a hilt by a Sulawesi sword.

Remind me to post a pic of a sword with similar hilt - probably need to take pics first...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th June 2019, 10:35 PM   #15
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Hello Gustav,

Quote:
Do we see something similar in van Zonneveld's book, p. 137, picture 575 (a sword from Tanimbar)?

Thanks, yes, this seems like a decent match! (Both hilts, from Detlef and me, are less curved though.)

It is well known that blades got exported from eastern Sulawesi and Buton in considerable numbers; there may be a good chance that this hilt also originated there.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th June 2019, 10:38 PM   #16
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Detlef, I can see a massive difference in quality, and a difference in hilt style, but in overall blade style I can see no real difference at all. Over many years I've had a number of these things, all with the same overall blade style, but with a very wide range of qualities. I think I've only ever had one that was of similar quality to the better one in your comparison picture, most of what I've had has been just "household tool" stuff, nothing special at all, but a couple of those very ordinary pieces were very definitely from Northern Sumatera.

Maybe the rudus or cojang name is a quality designation as well as just an identifier, maybe the same object but of a lower quality has a different name.

I believe I was the first person in the field of edge weapons to coin the term "The Name Game" I've been using it for more than 50 years, and I don't think I ever heard anybody use it before me. Every time I see a situation where we try to define S.E. Asian objects --- not just weapons, but objects --- by using names that we do not understand, that same phrase runs through my mind.

Kai,, your comment:-

While Sumatra is famous for its bifurcated horn hilts, this type is none of those.

it is a regrettable fact of life that not every hilt was made by the same person, living in the same place, at the same time, and from the same material.

If we live outside of a society, and in a different period, the best we can access is a tiny sample of total production of anything. Tiny samples of anything are useless for the purpose of forming supportable opinions. We might be able to hypothesise upon the basis of small, isolated samples, but in the case of tools, or weapons, where most people make their own hilts and scabbards, and only follow a general overall pattern --- if they follow any pattern at all --- how is it possible to acknowledge that an overall pattern applies to a particular location, but because of detail it cannot possibly be from that location?

Not everything in this world fits into its own nice, neat, little box, particularly so in the region that we are now concerned with.

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Old 17th June 2019, 10:56 PM   #17
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
Thing is this:- these blades don't just stay in one place, they move all over the entire region. I often feel that attaching a geographic location as point of manufacture is a little bit silly. Maybe the idea of "collected in" is a better way to describe things, or for stuff bought well outside the region where there are reliable examples from somewhere or other it could be "attributed to".

It is certainly advisable to be cautious with narrowing down the origin of pieces, especially if there are indications of mixed heritage.

It is well-known that blades or complete pieces got traded all over maritime SE Asia or got gifted between rulers. A good example may be the Aceh sikin panjang observed by Schmeltz in Banjarmasin.

However, whenever it seems possible to specifically place the blade and the hilt (as well as possibly any extant scabbard) to the same originating culture (and to reasonably exclude any other contenders), it seems a moot point not to address a piece as belonging to a given place/culture/period. (If component parts of any example can be attributed to different origins, it also seems preferable to discuss each in detail.)

In my humble opinion, neither the blade nor the hilt of this sword are from Sumatra. Both fit well with examples I believe to be indigenuous to Sulawesi. If pressed, I'd posit this could be from the SE areas; more research (and data from this blade) will be needed to corroborate this notion though.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th June 2019, 11:24 PM   #18
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Hello Alan,

our posts crossed.


Quote:
Not everything in this world fits into its own nice, neat, little box, particularly so in the region that we are now concerned with.

D'accord. There sure are ensembles of mixed origins and often enough the hilt and scabbard will be considerably younger than the blade and at best represent the culture where the blade got used before it moved overseas to Europe/etc. And, yes, blades got traded widely or got captured; and people moved all over the place. Yup, granted.


Quote:
it is a regrettable fact of life that not every hilt was made by the same person, living in the same place, at the same time, and from the same material.

If we live outside of a society, and in a different period, the best we can access is a tiny sample of total production of anything. Tiny samples of anything are useless for the purpose of forming supportable opinions. We might be able to hypothesise upon the basis of small, isolated samples, but in the case of tools, or weapons, where most people make their own hilts and scabbards, and only follow a general overall pattern --- if they follow any pattern at all --- how is it possible to acknowledge that an overall pattern applies to a particular location, but because of detail it cannot possibly be from that location?

Often enough this may not be possible, indeed.

However, by concentrating on (often minute) details, it often is possible to narrow down the origin of a given hilt or scabbard. Just like for an experienced kerisophile like you, it is often possible to narrow down the origin of a keris blade which less experienced folks won't be able to form any well-founded opinion on.

I realize why most collectors will first think of northern Sumatra. I've examined a fair share of Sumatran blades with special attention to Aceh, Gayo, Alas, Karo, Pakpak, Toba, etc. - trust me, no part of this ensemble is Sumatran...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th June 2019, 11:32 PM   #19
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Kai, as I wrote in my original post:-

This sort of broad, general weaponry is a bit outside my knowledge base, so what I'm putting up for consideration cannot be taken as any sort of expert opinion, only general knowledge based on experience.

There is a Batak sword like this that has a hollow grind --- ie, concave blade face --- it has a name something like rudos, or rodos or similar. Over the years I've had several, and quality and detail varies a lot.

This style of bifurcated hilt is usually associated with Sumatra, lots of stylistic variations, but in other places, including Sulawesi it is somewhere between rare and non-existent.


Forgive me.

I am old, I am tired, and I am sick to my guts as what I personally see as a rather ill-informed and unrealistic expectation that everything in the field of S.E. Asian material culture can be labelled and classified using information that is so incomplete and erroneous as to be laughable.

It would please me greatly if collectors and students in our particular field of study would cease the patently unrealistic and adopt a more measured approach.

In places where we can get half a dozen different names for the same object by going to half a dozen different houses a few kilometers apart, how wise is it to be too definite about anything?

We all know that material objects --- not just weapons, but all sorts of manufactured items --- move all over the region and have done so for more than a 1000 years.

Yes, it is in the nature of man to want to label things, but it would perhaps be more acceptable if we used attributions, or references, for instance :-

"A gizmo, collected 1995 Kaba-Kaba, Bali, Indonesia, location of origin:- attributed to Karanganyar, Jawa Tengah, circa 1893 (after Sutrisno)"

with this type of approach we say where we acquired the thing, we say where we think it might be from, we say what period we think it might be from, and we give the reference for our label:- Sutrisno.

There is a very nice little quote that I think is attributed to Lao Tzu:-

"The wise seem confused, knowing the imperfection of their understanding"
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Old 18th June 2019, 12:18 AM   #20
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Kai, I used the word "consideration".

In other words:- "think about this"

You, in your wisdom, and from your broad base of experience have been able say that without the slightest shadow of a doubt, this insignificant little piece of carved horn could not possibly have come from Sumatera.

I absolutely accept that this is your opinion.

I am not pushing any opinion at all on this item of Detlef's.

Please do not confuse keris in general with other items of material culture from S.E. Asia, such as tools & weapons. We cannot even mix keris with other items of tosan aji.
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Old 18th June 2019, 10:45 PM   #21
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
You, in your wisdom, and from your broad base of experience have been able say that without the slightest shadow of a doubt, this insignificant little piece of carved horn could not possibly have come from Sumatera.

Please check back what I have been positing - I don't think your summary reflects what I actually wrote.

I don't think we need to have a debate here: I believe we talk about swords, not personalities.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 18th June 2019, 10:50 PM   #22
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
I am old, I am tired, and I am sick to my guts as what I personally see as a rather ill-informed and unrealistic expectation that everything in the field of S.E. Asian material culture can be labelled and classified using information that is so incomplete and erroneous as to be laughable.

I agree that the name game often is a rather futile exercise. If you check, you'll note that I tend to be quite cautious with applying names, too. (In other threads - in this thread I haven't suggested any name for the sword being discussed...)


Quote:
In places where we can get half a dozen different names for the same object by going to half a dozen different houses a few kilometers apart, how wise is it to be too definite about anything?

This is a non-sequitur: The name game may be futile but it doesn't follow that there can't be any discernible and reliable cultural differences.

I see where you’re coming from and the value in being cautious with attributions. My suggestion may eventually prove to be wrong. However, without putting out hypotheses for testing, learning will tend to be pretty slow.

For me, this sword (both, its blade and hilt) exhibits features that suggest an origin on Sulawesi. Granted, with this piece, it is more of a maximum likelihood approach rather than being able to offer absolute proof. Nor do i have the time to submit a thorough thesis which may convince more sceptic folks. I'm confident with my (if this helps: tentative) assessment though.


Quote:
"A gizmo, collected 1995 Kaba-Kaba, Bali, Indonesia, location of origin:- attributed to Karanganyar, Jawa Tengah, circa 1893 (after Sutrisno)"

with this type of approach we say where we acquired the thing, we say where we think it might be from, we say what period we think it might be from, and we give the reference for our label:- Sutrisno.

Actually, that's pretty much what I did (without formally citing myself) if you care to check above. So, let me rephrase if this sounds any better:

A sword, collected 2019(?) by Detlef on ePray(?); origin of blade and hilt: attributed to Sulawesi, Indonesia (possibly East to southeastern regions including Buton, probably 19th century (after Kai 2019: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?p=241571); a resembling piece with more strongly curved hilt attributed to Tanimbar by Karel Sirag (in AvZ 2001: Fig. 575).

Regards,
Kai

Last edited by kai : 18th June 2019 at 11:07 PM.
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Old 19th June 2019, 12:28 AM   #23
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Kai, before writing my post #20 I did check back through all your posts to this thread, and I am of the opinion that what I have written in post #20 does indeed reflect what you have written in your earlier posts.

If you are referring to my Post #19 as my "summary", well, that is something I have felt like writing for a long time, it could as easily have appeared in any one of several hundred threads in this Forum, it just happened to surface in this one. Probably because I get more & more short tempered with every passing day.

So it seems that you are writing one thing, and I am reading something different.

But then, if I read what you have written:-

I don't think we need to have a debate here: I believe we talk about swords, not personalities.

It appears to be obvious to me that you are not reading that which I have written.

From my perspective I am not involved in any debate:- how could I be? I have not put forward any opinion, merely a suggestion for consideration by those who appear to know more than I do in this particular field.

As for names, of course you have not suggested any name for the item under discussion, and I have not commented that you have.

Yes, we are talking about tools and swords and other sharp pointy things, I can detect no shadow of comment on anybody's personality. I have complimented you, true, but that compliment is hardly discussion of personality.

If my compliments in any way disconcert or embarrass you, I most humbly apologise for causing you any discomfort.

I will make this one last point:-

Unless a person has dedicated a considerable part of his life to the study of certain aspects of a society it is not possible for that person to claim that a particular object originates from that society, nor that it bears a particular name within that society.

Those who engage in such study, frequently dedicate a considerable part of their life to actually living in the society under enquiry. A good example of this is the way in which many noted anthropologists have carried out their enquiries.

Thus, for those who are not a part of the target society and who wish to place any item within such society and its geographic location, and to name it in accordance with the accepted usage in the society of origin, that person needs to rely upon statistical sampling.

The samples used can be drawn from published works, or from reliably authenticated examples of the item under enquiry, such examples could perhaps be provided by museums and other public institutions.

In the case of maritime South East Asia the nature of the region, the variation in languages, the philosophy of language structure, and the well documented and lengthy trade links throughout the region make the verification of geographic point of origin, name, and meaning of a name very difficult to verify.

The objective of reasonable accuracy is further complicated by unreliability of the data base upon which any statistical sampling must rely. There are other difficulties in applying statistical sampling to this matter also, difficulties relating to the numbers of objects involved in the study and the variation applicable.

If what I have written above can be accepted as accurate, it follows that many, if not most opinions in respect of the identification for objects of material culture from Maritime South East Asia need to be qualified. Perhaps in some cases, heavily qualified.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 19th June 2019 at 03:23 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 20th June 2019, 06:18 PM   #24
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Hello Alan,

Like you I've owned and handled several so called Co Jang, all I've sold, only the one I've posted is still in my collection since it's the best one I've had in my possession. Like you said, they come in many different qualities. Not one of them was similar to the sword in question.
Like I write in my first post of this thread: "All comments are very welcome!" and for sure I taken your thoughts to consideration but like Kai and Gustav I think that this blade originate not from Sumatra but from Sulawesi. Yes, the general shape is similar to a Co Jang blade but like Ian write in post #2 it also resemble to a Bangkung from the Moros and I am sure that we will find other blade shapes which will look similar.
And I agree with your statement: " This style of bifurcated hilt is usually associated with Sumatra, lots of stylistic variations, but in other places, including Sulawesi it is somewhere between rare and non-existent." This was the main reason for this thread and so I am curious to see pictures from the example Kai has in his possession.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 20th June 2019, 10:11 PM   #25
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Thank you for your comment Detlef.

I think I have already made it clear that I am not proposing any point of origin, nor any name for this pedang. My initial comment was a thought for consideration, no more.

My thought has been considered, and seemingly, dismissed. I have absolutely no problem with this at all. None. I have very little interest in this sort of thing --- well, I used to have, but for a long time now my interest has been pretty narrowly focused.

Blades like this but with different as well as similar hilts I have bought from sources within Indonesia, and from one or two sources outside Indonesia where the seller could provide information on origin. During the 1980's blades like this were being made by smiths in a village outside of Boyolali in Jawa Tengah.

Hilts like this I have had on old Javanese blades, and I have seen at least one similar hilt that was carved in Solo within the last 30 years.

My only problem in respect of this particular pedang, as well as a great number of other unremarkable tools & weapons that get posted for identification, is that the sources that are used as reference material are so very few, and so very unreliable.

There are simply not adequate sources of reliable information available to permit any reasonable person to form a supportable opinion.

Most opinions on place of origin and name of perhaps the bulk of these everyday objects should be qualified. Most people fail to do so.
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Old 26th August 2019, 06:37 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Remind me to post a pic of a sword with similar hilt - probably need to take pics first...


Hereby done!
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Old 9th September 2019, 12:44 AM   #27
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Hello Detlef,

Thanks for the reminder!

Here's a pic (courtesy of mandaukudi).

BTW, the belt with toggle seems to be Dayak - old but possibly added later (may well indicate an ensemble that traveled to another culture and experienced continued use).

Regards,
Kai
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Old 10th September 2019, 04:58 PM   #28
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Thank you Kai! Indeed very similar blade shape and handle style.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 24th September 2019, 05:08 PM   #29
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Hi guys,

The piece seems to be from Sumbawa, east of Lombok. Indonesian collectors call them Pedang Sumbawa.

The area was outside of colonial control until the 20th century and was home to many traders of various areas from Indonesia, which explains the eclectic mix of styles seen on some of them.
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Old 24th September 2019, 05:14 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Dekker
The piece seems to be from Sumbawa, east of Lombok. Indonesian collectors call them Pedang Sumbawa.


Hello Peter,
Do you refer to the pedang which start the thread?

Regards,
Detlef
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