Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 21st April 2014, 02:13 PM   #1
Loedjoe
Member
 
Loedjoe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Oxford (UK)
Posts: 94
Default Gayo? sikin panjang with talismans in etched raised relief

I was recently lucky enough to get what seems to me to be a rather interesting sikin panjang at Auctions Imperial (my thanks to Anne and colleagues there for their help).
It has a number of talismans in raised relief (very worn; I have done my best to photograph them; photographs have not loaded in the order I wanted) on the blade, a brass collar and guard (so may well be Gayo), with inscriptions in Arabic, and appears to be of considerable age (possibly 18th cent?), perhaps with a later hilt? The inscriptions underneath the guard read 'There is no god other than Allah' and 'Muha'mmad' (my thanks to Ahmed for the translations), and are provided in mirror image under the other side of the guard. Length of sword 77.7 cm.

The designs on the blade are more or less the same on each side (centipede two cm longer on the right side, for instance), and the designs on the right side of the blade are even more worn away than those on the left.
On the left side, starting from the tip
(1) a round seal or medallion, 1.4 cm diameter,
(2) a scorpion, 2.7 cm long,
(3) a centipede, 8.8 cm long,
(4) two round seals or medallions, mostly rubbed away, the second one apparently the same image as the first, about 2.8 cm in diameter,
(5) on the top two-thirds of the base of the blade, meandering foliate designs, about 8 cm long,
the first 10 cm of the spine also etched, almost all rubbed away;

I have a few questions about it, which I hope members of the Forum may be able to help with.
1) are the seals/medallions on the blade based on the designs of coins or seals?
2) is there a particular significance to scorpions and centipedes on the blade?
3) can anyone tell me of other North Sumatran blades with raised designs?
4) why does Sumatran brass (as in the collar) not seem to tarnish like European brass?
Any other information would of course be most welcome.
Attached Images
           
Loedjoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st April 2014, 11:45 PM   #2
kai
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,534
Default

I'm glad you snapped this up! Indeed, the brass bolster as well as the motifs are very unusual...

I did a quick search through my archives and only came up with another Sumatran piece from Michael's collection (attached below).


Quote:
1) are the seals/medallions on the blade based on the designs of coins or seals?

I believe these were meant to be talismanic rather than copying foreign seals, etc.


Quote:
2) is there a particular significance to scorpions and centipedes on the blade?

Those tropical giant centipedes and (some) scorpions are highly poisionous arthropods; they are also sometimes depicted on Moro swords (inlay) and keris Jawa (kinatah).

Quote:
3) can anyone tell me of other North Sumatran blades with raised designs?

Another, IMHO less likely reason, may be protection of formerly gilded designs from corrosion.

Quote:
4) why does Sumatran brass (as in the collar) not seem to tarnish like European brass?

Brass is not a standardized alloy, especially historically. It seems that Indonesian brass was usually of lower zinc content and may have also included tin as well as varying amounts of "impurities" affecting malleability, casting, and corrosion/patination.

Regards,
Kai
Attached Images
 
kai is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd April 2014, 08:29 AM   #3
Loedjoe
Member
 
Loedjoe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Oxford (UK)
Posts: 94
Default

Thank you very much, Kai, for your kind words, and very helpful reply to my queries - much appreciated.
Loedjoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd April 2014, 02:32 PM   #4
VANDOO
(deceased)
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: OKLAHOMA, USA
Posts: 3,140
Thumbs up

A VERY INTERESTING SWORD. I HAVE NOT SEEN THESE SYMBOLS ON A PANJANG BEFORE. THESE TAILSMANIC SYMBOLS ARE SOMETIMES SEEN ON BATAK AND PHILIPPINE ITEMS. ON YOUR SWORD I ASSUME THE INTENT IS TO SOMEHOW GIVE THE BLADE THE MAGICAL POWER TO STING AND POISON THE ENEMY WHEN HE IS STRUCK.
THESE SYMBOLS ARE SOMETIMES SEEN IN CHINA AND OTHER AREAS AS PROTECTIVE (THEY WILL PROTECT THE BEARER FROM THE STINGS AND BITES OF THESE POSINOUS CRITTERS). SOMETIMES SEEN ON BABY CARRIERS OR BLANKETS AND CLOTHING FOR EXAMPLE.
VANDOO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14th February 2015, 06:42 PM   #5
Maurice
Member
 
Maurice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 1,316
Default

Today I have seen a Batak podang, very old balde and etched on the same way as yours Tim!
Not the same motifs, but some text.

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of it.
Maurice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th February 2015, 07:41 PM   #6
Oliver Pinchot
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 384
Default

The Arabic inscription on the bolster reads, THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH!
and beneath that, MUHAMMAD.

I will pass along your comments to Anne, Loedjoe.
Oliver Pinchot is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2015, 07:09 AM   #7
Loedjoe
Member
 
Loedjoe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Oxford (UK)
Posts: 94
Default

Many thanks Oliver, both for the reading of the inscription, and for passing on my thanks to Anne.
Loedjoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2015, 12:01 PM   #8
kronckew
Member
 
kronckew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: CSA Consulate, Rm. 101, Glos. UK: p.s. - Real Dogs Have Feathering.
Posts: 3,292
Default

there is a low gold alloy called suasa used in indonesia and other parts of SE asia & the phillipines. discussed HERE on the forum. used frequently in aceh where these sikin come from. it has just enough gold in it to prevent oxidation of the copper/silver part of the alloy, especially if handled and cleaned.

apparently in islamic sections, like aceh, pure gold was too ostentatious for a devout mulslim to adorn himself and his weapons, a true muslim is humble before allah and not vain. suasa however, being low gold content, was acceptable. a belief not held universally, but allowed lower income people to afford gold jewellery and decorated items.

the sikin swords are still made, last contact i had with my supplier in indonesia, he'd found only two smiths still making them, and he'd not heard from them since the tsunami. i hope he has since. i've not heard from him recently either. rebels in the area.

my sikin was made for him by one of the smiths, i managed to talk him out of it at a price that made both of us happy. sadly no suasa or inscriptions, just a razor sharp blade.

p.s. - the dark specks on the blade are reflections of birds overhead)
Attached Images
 

Last edited by kronckew : 16th February 2015 at 12:43 PM.
kronckew is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 06:33 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.