Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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RobT 24th October 2021 05:53 PM

A Learning Experience?
4 Attachment(s)
Hi All,

European weaponry isn't really my thing but because this Dutch klewang (ostensibly VOC) was being sold for very little, I decided to take a chance. Upon carefully examining the sword, I fear that I have been treated to what ruefully is called a learning experience. The blade is about 25.375" (64.4cm) long. The guard, ferrule, and backstrap are brass. The hilt looks like bone with a brass wire wrap but where the white "bone" has been chipped and worn away, the material is black which indicates plastic so the best I can hope for is some sort of 20 century dress sword. The sheath is brown leather sewn down the back. A loop of brass is riveted to a leather flap at the throat. The leather flap has a slit in it and is fastened to a partially intact leather band. The brass drag has been stapled to the sheath. I don't know if the staples (1 missing) are original.

Rob T

ariel 25th October 2021 12:53 PM

Don’t know about this particular example, but you are not the first or the last one on this Forum or even museum circles to get the dreaded “learning experience”....

No admonitions like” caveat emptor” or “ be more careful next time” will help: the unceasing battle between the sword and the shield always ends in favor of the aggressive implement. Our defenses are always penetrable. Been there on the receiving end, done that:-(((

Tim Simmons 25th October 2021 06:12 PM

Ah the learning experience, will happen again some day no matter how long you have been in the game.:cool:

Ian 25th October 2021 07:19 PM


I think I know what you have but would like to see more pictures of the hilt and blade. In the meanwhile, you might take a look at this thread on the Maréchaussée sabel (Dutch klewang).


RobT 26th October 2021 01:05 AM

Ariel & Tim,

Thanks for the kind words. I think this sort of thing is kind of like a fender bender where, had I been a bit more attentive, I wouldn't have gotten hit.


I did read your excellent thread and the links to posts that others had supplied. As a matter of fact, it was reading your thread that caused me to doubt the validity of my item. I know that the top of the guard looks like some of the Tjikeroh swords but I have never seen a Tjikeroh sword with a counter guard like mine. I also noted that, like some Tjikeroh swords, the hilt on my sword is held onto the blade by a through tang (perhaps threaded). The blade quality of my sword isn't as fine as any of the Tjikeroh swords that I have seen. I would be happy to supply more pictures if you tell me what parts of the hilt and blade you would like to see.


Ian 26th October 2021 05:18 AM

H Rob,

Could you show us the grip and backstrap of the hilt, the forte area of the blade, a section of the blade with the fuller, and a clearer view of the tip.


RobT 26th October 2021 05:36 PM

New Photos
7 Attachment(s)

Thanks for your help on this. On closer examination, the grip wire appears to be copper not brass. I took two shots of the backstrap. One from directly overhead and the other from the back to show the through tang. I also took a shot of the fuller on each side of the blade. The second shot is the "VOC" side. That fuller appears to be less deep and cut a bit lower than the other side. I also took a shot of the forte and the tip. Hope this helps.


kai 26th October 2021 11:53 PM

Hello Rob,

The VOC mark is not genuine (obviously being of much too young age, anyway).

This has shaver cool vibes to me... (Sorry, Jim ;))


RobT 27th October 2021 01:19 AM

I Hadn't Thought of That

Of course, the VOC logo would have been in use much before my sword was made. I should have realized that. I am afraid however that more than just the logo is inauthentic.


Ian 27th October 2021 01:39 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Hi Rob,

Those additional pictures confirm my initial impression.

First, and most important, is that the blade is not a true maréchausée sabel (aka, Dutch klewang). It does not conform to the Dutch pattern (or swords based on it and made elsewhere). The ricasso is too long and the clipped point is too shallow. The fullers are poorly cut and of uneven width. You may also find that the blade is shorter than the standard length.

Second, the hilt seems to be (loosely) based on a Dutch naval officer's saber (Model 1882). The gilded brass hilt on that sword has a solid D-guard with a lion's head pommel and backstrap, and a segmented bone grip with twisted wire. The hilt on your example is poorly cast and roughly finished. The backstrap shows coarse grind marks along the seam of the mold.

Adding all of this together, what you have is an Indonesian copy of a Dutch klewang blade to which has been fitted a copy of the M 1882 Naval Officer's saber hilt. Indigenous copies of Dutch swords were fairly common, especially as you have noted in Tjikeroeh, so this sword falls into a recognized genre. I think your example was made pre-WWII because it appears to have some age and that was when local copies of Dutch swords were most prevalent.

As for the VOC mark, this is clearly "fanciful" (as Kai has noted). The Dutch klewang was introduced in 1905, more than 100 years after the VOC ceased to exist (the VOC was nationalized in 1796 and abolished on December 31, 1799). Added to that the mark has been struck upside down and does not conform to standard VOC marks. Again, this is characteristic of local indigenous manufacture.



Standard VOC mark: Note the serif font and presence of wider downstrokes than upstrokes.

RobT 27th October 2021 11:59 PM

Better Than I Had Hoped

Thanks for all your expertise. Your findings are better than I had hoped for (or deserve for my carelessness). The VOC logo should have been a red flag but even more so, I should have recognized the poor blade and hilt workmanship as uncharacteristic for quality Dutch and Indonesian weapons of the period. That you consider the sword to have been made prior to WWII and of actual Indonesian manufacture is a lot better than what I thought likely. One thing for certain, if I ever again venture into the field of Western European or Western European influenced new world arms, I will be a darn sight more careful.


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