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Old 2nd July 2017, 06:52 PM   #1
CharlesS
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Default A Lovely and Interesting Malay Sword

Here is a sword that I suppose could be Indonesian or Malay, but I have my own ideas that it is Malay. The blade is 3-d pattern welded and starts off at the forte as a rather blah gray. As the blade's edges are tempered a nice effect occurs with etching, with what I have dubbed "50 shades of gray". The blades edges are beveled as we might would expect to see on an Indian tulwar sword. The beveled edges are burnished.

The hilt is covered in thick, quality silver over the grip in a motif of overlapping scales. The bolster is swassa(untested) in a typical Indonesian and Malay form. The pommel, where we might expect to see a Makara head in a variety of floral and pierced motifs, is, instead, a cast brass lion's head that has been worked for detail after casting. This heavy hilt creates a nice balance to the sword.

The scabbard is hardwood with en suite heavy silver fittings in scales and floral motifs.

Any input is welcomed, especially knowledge on the origin of this type of sword or the significance of the artistic motifs.

Dimensions:
Overall length: 30.25in.
Blade length: 23.25in.
Blade width at the center: 1.25in.
Blade thickness at the forte: 1/4in.
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Old 2nd July 2017, 07:03 PM   #2
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If you are going to dub the blade "50 shades of gray" perhaps you should blindfold the lion to bring it all in line!

In all seriousness this is a very lovely sword. The lion head looks very European and I wonder if there is some cross pollination going on there?
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Old 2nd July 2017, 07:15 PM   #3
Battara
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I LOVE THE PAMOR!

Yes the part does look like swassa to me as well.

What a great piece!
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Old 2nd July 2017, 08:29 PM   #4
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Hello Charles,

I'm with Rick: The lion does look European - possibly recycled knob from a colonial walking stick?

The pedang should be northern Malay: probably Kelantan or the greater Pattani region. I have a pedang with similar blade shape and typical northern Malay Makara pommel. Will try to post pics...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 2nd July 2017, 10:35 PM   #5
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Lion with scales... Merlion, or Singa-Laut in Malay. Mythical creature with lion's head and body of a fish.
Picture below is of famous statue in Singapore.
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Old 3rd July 2017, 01:06 AM   #6
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Thanks Victrix....great contribution!!!

Here is an article on the 'Merlion' and its association with Singapore, both ancient and new. It brings together many of the elements already mentioned here, including RSword's reference to its European look.

Very interesting article....

https://web.archive.org/web/2014091...rt%2Fhtml%2F326

Last edited by CharlesS : 3rd July 2017 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 3rd July 2017, 02:06 AM   #7
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Charles, when I first looked at the pics I thought, like you, that there may be an Indian influence. That, in turn, made me think of Singapore where there is a large Indian ex-pat population (almost 10% counting permanent residents--mostly Tamils, with Tamil as the nation's third official language along with English and Mandarin). Given subsequent comments about the hilt and a possible Singapore link, I think we are getting close.

Ian

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Old 3rd July 2017, 11:22 AM   #8
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I agree Ian, and good point!
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Old 3rd July 2017, 12:09 PM   #9
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An incredibly handsome sword. I believe the striking pamor is arising from a moderately fine laminated construction with the layers lying nearly parallel to the flats of the blade.
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Old 3rd July 2017, 05:11 PM   #10
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Interesting link how Singapore allegedly got its name:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sang_Nila_Utama

But the lion may have been a tiger? Apparently, lions never populated Singapore. The last tiger was allegedly shot in the Billiard Room and Bar at the Raffles hotel.

Also there seem to be links between India and Malay culture? Interesting.
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Old 4th July 2017, 10:40 AM   #11
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It's a striking sword Charles.

Personally, at face value with the images presented, I would say this is a composite piece with consideration to the pommel, my guess is that was once a horn pommel, however, stranger things have happened... Perhaps clear crisp union images from all four sides would clear it up???

As for origin, I'd say more from Sumatra.



Gavin

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Old 16th July 2017, 05:30 PM   #12
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I realize there has been some concern regarding the pommel, and I am only now back home and able to get pics on the thread. If you study the pics carefully you will see that the lion pommel loses all its detail at the line where the silver grip reaches it. You will also see that the silver is custom fitted to the features it encases.

To me this is an indication that this pommel was made for this sword. Could it still be cut down from something else, say a 'cane grip', of course it could, but I don't think it's as likely considering the detail we see here. Fact of the matter is that we likely will never know, but at the very least we do know that a great deal of effort went into fitting the pommel and it was not just some 'willy nilly' glue on.
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Old 16th July 2017, 11:31 PM   #13
A. G. Maisey
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To my eye, this pommel is not Indonesian workmanship, nor is it Malay workmanship. Both composition and execution do not fit within this SE Asian context.
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Old 17th July 2017, 04:03 PM   #14
kai
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Hello Charles,

I'm with Alan, this lion does not look traditional for SE Asia (nor China/India), as already noted in my earlier posting. As mentioned, European lions were not uncommon in the colonial context throughout the region. The Singapore merlion is a modern version though - obviously to establish a kind of logo unique for Singapore (aka marketing).


Quote:
I realize there has been some concern regarding the pommel, and I am only now back home and able to get pics on the thread. If you study the pics carefully you will see that the lion pommel loses all its detail at the line where the silver grip reaches it. You will also see that the silver is custom fitted to the features it encases.

Well, the close-ups do seem to suggest that the mane of the lion did got cut along the sides and this "haircut" also seems to vary slightly on both sides (difficult to verify since the viewing angle is different in your pics). Apparently, the mane also got filed/sanded down along the neck IMVHO. You'll be the final judge since you can study these details in person...

The solid silver rim is missing from the sides and the small extension at the underside. Still, I don't believe that the silver rim is likely to have followed the remaining mane very neatly (if so, it had to be of varying width originally).

Thus, I believe a colonial/European lion got used by a Malay craftsman, possibly to repair a missing/broken pommel. I don't doubt that this sword has a nice balance due to the heavier pommel - does it resemble the feeling of a jian a bit?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 19th July 2017, 07:37 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
To my eye, this pommel is not Indonesian workmanship, nor is it Malay workmanship. Both composition and execution do not fit within this SE Asian context.


The lion has a middle eastern feeling to me.
The combination is plain ugly imo, there should have been a horn carving on top.

Best regards,
Willem
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