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Old 12th June 2021, 04:00 AM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Philippine Sword?

This is one Ive had for years, but really no idea what it is....the significance of the face etc. . Way not my area, so could use some help.
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Old 12th June 2021, 07:19 AM   #2
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Hi Jim,
You will have more success with the Kris / keris guys.
But I think it is a Pedang lurus.
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Old 13th June 2021, 05:57 PM   #3
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Yes, it's a Javanese Pedang Lurus.
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Old 13th June 2021, 07:03 PM   #4
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Yes, it's a Javanese Pedang Lurus.
Thank you, now I know what it is.
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Old 15th June 2021, 07:19 AM   #5
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Hi Jim,

What a nice piece and the face strikes me as very unusual on a pedang lurus. Such a clear representation of a human face on the hilt and scabbard seems antithetical to Muslim tradition, where abstract features are much more common. Perhaps this tradition applies more to keris than other Indonesian weapons, although Moro weapons use only abstract decorations of living creatures.

One possibility may be that your sword was designed for a foreigner.

I'm afraid I don't know the significance of a face on your sword and scabbard. Alan Maisey, Kai, Detlef, and others who have a better understanding of Indonesian weapons may have a clearer idea.

Sorry I can't be more specific.

Regards,

Ian.
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Old 15th June 2021, 09:14 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=Ian;263576]Hi Jim,

What a nice piece and the face strikes me as very unusual on a pedang lurus. Such a clear representation of a human face on the hilt and scabbard seems antithetical to Muslim tradition, where abstract features are much more common. Perhaps this tradition applies more to keris than other Indonesian weapons, although Moro weapons use only abstract decorations of living creatures.

One possibility may be that your sword was designed for a foreigner.

I'm afraid I don't know the significance of a face on your sword and scabbard. Alan Maisey, Kai, Detlef, and others who have a better understanding of Indonesian weapons may have a clearer idea.

Sorry I can't be more specific.

Regards,

Ian.[/QUO

Thank you so much Ian! So I guess this is quite an anomaly as suggested by the absence of response.
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Old 15th June 2021, 09:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Thank you so much Ian! So I guess this is quite an anomaly as suggested by the absence of response.
Yes. I think it is a bit of a puzzler, Jim.

As i look more closely at the face on the pommel, it seems to be European. There is a clear mustache and a small beard, with the cheeks shaved. As such, it qualifies as a "Van Dyck beard." This strengthens my belief that the piece was made for a European, perhaps depicted in his likeness. He seems to be a happy chappy.
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Old 15th June 2021, 10:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
Thank you so much Ian! So I guess this is quite an anomaly as suggested by the absence of response.
I don't see any European but an Indian face. Hinduism was also present in Java. The question for me is which god is it?
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Old 15th June 2021, 10:52 PM   #9
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I don't see any European but an Indian face. Hinduism was also present in Java. The question for me is which god is it?
Or a lion?
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Old 15th June 2021, 10:58 PM   #10
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Very much like a lion on the scabbard
or maybe Surya the Indian god of the sun...
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Old 16th June 2021, 02:16 AM   #11
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Thank you guys!! I am thinking too, something in the Hindu realm.
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Old 16th June 2021, 07:54 AM   #12
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Interesting idea that this depiction is related to Hinduism. I agree that the treatment of the eyes suggests Hindu art, however a half beard and mustache is uncommon among Hindus (I don't recall seeing a half beard in Hindu art work before--usually just a mustache or a full beard and mustache). I have blown up Jim's picture of the pommel to get a clearer image of the face. It is a human image (not a lion--the ears offer a definitive identification). Suraya, the Indian God of the Sun, is only depicted with a large mustache, never a beard, so probably not related to this God.


Recent Census Data from Indonesia indicate that Hindus make up about 1.74% of the total population.


.
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Old 16th June 2021, 05:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
I agree that the treatment of the eyes suggests Hindu art, however a half beard and mustache is uncommon among Hindus
.
If you google "Indian god with beard", it is the response that you will get.
You have Indian god with beard and look also at the avatars.
I vote for Narasimha (seems to be a badass)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Recent Census Data from Indonesia indicate that Hindus make up about 1.74% of the total population.
.
Do you have the statistics for the late 19th c.?

I agree that the guard and the scabbard tip look European ( English or Dutch)

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Old 17th June 2021, 12:00 AM   #14
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Thank you very much again guys, I really appreciate all these insights and suggestions. Again, I am far out of my element here, but am learning a great deal and while continuing my own research somewhat, I had a suggestion given to me privately.

That is this may have to do with possibly with Kala Bhairava, the destructive form of Shiva in Hindu deities. In parts of Java, there are followers of the Hindu Faith with elements of Buddhism as well, where Shiva is worshipped also,=.

Here I would recognize that this weapon has distinct European features, the shape of the hilt, the alternating quillon terminals and the chape surround on the scabbard. These are of the character of many European hangers of 17th into 18th c.

The idea of the face being European as well is intriguing of course with these considered, but the only faces I can think of is the 17th c, 'mortuary' hilt sword, but I am inclined to think of Dutch influence more in Java.

These are just thoughts as I continue to research and wonder what you guys think.
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Old 17th June 2021, 04:11 AM   #15
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I a wondering whether the S-shaped crossguard is a later ( 19th century?) imitatation.
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Old 17th June 2021, 04:37 AM   #16
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I'm going to throw another suggestion out of left field. The curious radial pattern around the neck of the face on the pommel and scabbard reminds me of a ruff collar, as seen in both European men's and women's dress up until about the mid-18th C. Ruffed collars are still being made today, although clearly out of popular fashion for more than a century. This would add to the possibility that the face is European. Ruffed collars were used by the Dutch, British, etc. and towards the end of their use they were largely worn by aristocrats, royalty, etc.
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Old 21st June 2021, 07:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Recent Census Data from Indonesia indicate that Hindus make up about 1.74% of the total population.
Indonesian is indeed mostly Muslim. However Bali has an 86% Hindu population. About 15% of the population of Lombok also identifies as Hindu. So the majority religious make-up of Indonesia as a whole is not particularly significant if this pedang lurus is from Bali or even Lombok. What's more, Hinduism left a significant mark on Indonesia as a whole up through the Mojopahit era and those influences remain throughout regardless of Islam being the major religion in the region today. Keep in mind that the keris itself was a dagger of Hindu Jawa that was embraced by the Islam after the fall of the Mojopahit empire. There are aspects of the keris that hold inherent Hindu symbolism that was kept in place despite the advent of Islam. And one can find elements of dress that incorporate figurative representation, in mostly Islamic areas such as Madura well after Islam became the dominate religion there.
Further, what is usual for Hinduism in India does not necessarily apply to Hinduism in Indonesia. The god names and the symbols that represent them are often not the same. So we cannot really compare images of Hindu gods on Indian weapons and expect them to relate to weapons found in Indonesia that bear Hindu references.
These faces do not appear to me to be the Hindu sun god Surya. Dewa Surya is indeed venerated in Bali, but images i have seen of him do not include any facial hair (though we should note that i do not believe the face on the sheath has any facial hair).
This pedang does have some unusual features for a Javanese pedang lurus. The S-shaped cross guard is not a feature you generally see on pedangs from Jawa. This could be some sort of hybrid piece. It could indeed have some European influences. But i am not convinced as a whole that it is from Jawa, though the blade might be. Or it may well be Balinese or from Lombok. It certainly is interesting.
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Old 21st June 2021, 10:13 PM   #18
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Why does the face have to be some sort of Symbolism? Why can't it just be Art? Images of Javanese facial masks are cultural, look similar, but without the ear. Once the face was made on the sword pommel, the scabbard maker just followed suit, but sans ear.

Just a thought.
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Old 21st June 2021, 10:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster View Post
Why does the face have to be some sort of Symbolism? Why can't it just be Art? Images of Javanese facial masks are cultural, look similar, but without the ear. Once the face was made on the sword pommel, the scabbard maker just followed suit, but sans ear.
Well, in most cases with an original ensemble the person who made the hilt would also be the person to make the sheath. Of course this may not be an original ensemble. But i would say that it would be highly unlikely that a face would be placed on the dress of an old Indonesian sword just to simply be decorative. There would always be some meaning behind such an addition to the dress. In Jawa masks that are part of the culture (not made for import or tourists) always have some significance. They are Wayang Topeng and are used in a form of sacred theatre.
But these faces don't particularly resemble any of the Wayang Topeng i have seen. When a face is placed on a hilt and/or sheath like this it is there for a purpose, generally as a guardian to protect the owner and the blade. These guardians can be gods, demons or ancestral spirits, but they are not there merely to be decorative art.
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Old 21st June 2021, 11:56 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
I'm going to throw another suggestion out of left field. The curious radial pattern around the neck of the face on the pommel and scabbard reminds me of a ruff collar, as seen in both European men's and women's dress up until about the mid-18th C. Ruffed collars are still being made today, although clearly out of popular fashion for more than a century. This would add to the possibility that the face is European. Ruffed collars were used by the Dutch, British, etc. and towards the end of their use they were largely worn by aristocrats, royalty, etc.
I have been remiss in not responding sooner Ian, my apologies. Actually I have had information from a most reliable source that this in his opinion was indeed likely made for a European.
Also I was assured that the face and motif have nothing to do with any deity or symbolism in these regions or religious context.
Here I would like to thank David for the great insights into the complexities and peculiarities of these weapons!!! I have enjoyed learning more on these as well as a better understanding of my example.
I very much appreciate not just observations, but explanations, and this information is remarkable.

Thank you again guys!!!!
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Old 22nd June 2021, 01:52 AM   #21
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Many Maduran kerises and other arms show heavy Dutch influence. Madura was where the Dutch recruited many mercenaries to fight for them in Jawa and Bali.
I see Maduran influence in the chape of the scabbard with the inclusion of the drag element there. Very European. Maduran work is often zoomorphic and figural. The wrongkos of these two kerises depict an Eagle and the winged horse of Sumenep.
Maduran Smiths are quite capable of forging blades like this.
I vote for Madura as origin of this Lurus.
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Old 22nd June 2021, 07:32 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
I have had information from a most reliable source that this in his opinion was indeed likely made for a European.
Also I was assured that the face and motif have nothing to do with any deity or symbolism in these regions or religious context.
Hi Jim,

Please could you share with us your infos? on which bases or criteria your contact can say that?

I think David's info is very interesting
Indonesian is indeed mostly Muslim. However Bali has an 86% Hindu population. About 15% of the population of Lombok also identifies as Hindu.

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Old 23rd June 2021, 01:37 AM   #23
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I checked out this thread pretty much as soon as it began, which was a bit of a fluke, because Philippine stuff does not interest me in the slightest, I was bored and chained to the computer anyway, so I had a look.

When I looked I saw not something from the Philppines, but a Javanese pedang lurus or pedang tusuk that I sold to somebody years ago.

I saw it had been correctly identified by a couple of people, I did not think it was really necessary for me to add anything, so closed the thread and did not look at it again. This morning I'm chained to my komputator again, and I noticed that this pedang thread had somehow managed to generate lots & lots of discussion.

Remarkable! This is a very ordinary little pedang lurus or pedang tusuk. "Lurus" simply means "straight", "tusuk" means "stab".

In other words a straight sword or a stabbing sword. Take your pick.

It was made in Jawa. The blade is probably older than the dress.

The dress is European influenced, it might have been made for a guard working in a princely residence, or a Dutch company office, or a grand house, either rural or urban --- or for any other non-cultural reason we may care to imagine.

In this dress it has absolutely nothing to do with Javanese cultural beliefs involving protective deities or beliefs.

Why does the pommel have a human face?

I don't know, but I do know that it would not be there if this dress was put on the blade of a person of Islamic beliefs. Maybe it represented the owner of the sugar factory where the original owner of this pedang stood guard at the entry gate.

It is very easy to get caught up in impossible beliefs when one does not have a very good knowledge of the society, history & culture of the places that produce various artefacts.

This is the reason that for many years I have encouraged people who have an interest in Indonesian weaponry to spend more time reading academic text books and papers dealing with Indonesian, and particularly Javanese & Balinese, society, culture & history, than to spend time reading about Indonesian weaponry.
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Old 23rd June 2021, 07:10 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
Why does the pommel have a human face?

I don't know, but I do know that it would not be there if this dress was put on the blade of a person of Islamic beliefs. Maybe it represented the owner of the sugar factory where the original owner of this pedang stood guard at the entry gate.

It is very easy to get caught up in impossible beliefs when one does not have a very good knowledge of the society, history & culture of the places that produce various artefacts.
Well, no. Why do you think that the human face would not be there if this dress was put on the blade of a person of Islamic beliefs?

Islamic weapons are full of animals and human representations. What you wrote is a common belief about Muslims but it is not true. Human and animal representations are only forbidden in mosques.


So yes this short sword could be for Muslims, could be for Europeans, and could be for Hindus because as far I know no one here wrote something that proved anything. Collectors feelings are good but I prefer facts.

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Old 23rd June 2021, 07:14 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Edster View Post
Why does the face have to be some sort of Symbolism? Why can't it just be Art? Images of Javanese facial masks are cultural, look similar, but without the ear. Once the face was made on the sword pommel, the scabbard maker just followed suit, but sans ear.

Just a thought.
Ed
Ed, everything is symbolic, the point is you need to know the meaning.
Especially on weapons, even on European swords, the oak acorn is the strength... Any single piece of decoration has a meaning, and sometimes use.
So yes these two faces have a symbolic.
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Old 23rd June 2021, 08:29 PM   #26
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Kubur,

I see you are a student of philosophy as well as ethnographic weapons. In my simple way I meant that "symbolism" is a cultural expression while "art" is a personal expression. Both efforts exhibit "meaning" and sometimes they overlap. Often when archaeologists view an puzzling object the default explanation is "it must have symbolic/religious meaning/significance". But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Can we agree that all man made objects have "meaning"? Otherwise, what's the point of the effort? Sometimes the meaning is cultural or personal or objective/use. The sword in question exhibits all three.

Best regards,
Ed

Last edited by Edster; 23rd June 2021 at 08:40 PM. Reason: Add: The sword in question exhibits all three.
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Old 23rd June 2021, 11:00 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
Well, no. Why do you think that the human face would not be there if this dress was put on the blade of a person of Islamic beliefs?

Islamic weapons are full of animals and human representations. What you wrote is a common belief about Muslims but it is not true. Human and animal representations are only forbidden in mosques.


So yes this short sword could be for Muslims, could be for Europeans, and could be for Hindus because as far I know no one here wrote something that proved anything. Collectors feelings are good but I prefer facts.


Very interesting, so this idea that Islamic material culture only forbids representations of humans and animals in Mosques is a proven fact.
Does this apply to both Shi'a and Sunni, as well as all the Schools and Factions of each Faith and Following, which seem to be quite diverse.
I am of course curious about how your comment can be so general in such a complex topic.
Also, how is it proven to be universal in the entire Muslim Faith? Is this written as such, and observed by the entire Faith? Are there instances where these depictions are allowed outside of Mosques?

I agree on symbolism, and in the observations on art. As someone who has been intrigued by art and symbolism most of my life, I have studied as much as I can on potential meanings and such symbolism in many areas, and there are indeed times where a presumed idea of such, could not be proven, and in fact may well have just been aesthetic.

I also agree that facts are paramount when at hand, but in the absence of them, profound experience of those who have spent years, decades in a specialized field, can present compelling evidence.
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Old 24th June 2021, 12:00 AM   #28
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Kubur, I thank you for your very knowledgeable and perceptive comments, I believe you are expert in your own field and I have absolutely no desire at all to challenge your deep knowledge in this field.

However, I do have a very limited understanding of Javanese society, culture, anthropology, art and history, I qualify my understanding as "very limited" because I have only been involved in study of Jawa for about 60 or so years, and in truth, that is just not long enough to have a complete & thorough understanding of the things in which I have an interest.

My Javanese mentors have been palace armourers (empu) for the Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat, and my association with these men lasted in one case for 15 years, and in the other case for around 40 years. Apart from these two men I have had long professional and personal association with a number of artists & craftsmen & dealers in the field of tosan aji for about 50 years.

When we come to consider the pedang that is the subject of this thread the fact of the matter is that I sold it to Mr. McDougal in the first place, and there is absolutely no doubt at all in my mind as to what this particular sword is.

I have seen many similar items over the years, and identification of it is about as difficult for me as the identification of a Toyota motor vehicle might be for some other people:- the Toyota has certain identifying characteristics, things like the names on the rear of the vehicle & badges on the front. For somebody in my position this pedang also has identifying characteristics.

Some things can be beliefs, other things can be fact. In the case of this pedang I am not talking about what my beliefs may be, I am talking about fact. Whether you or anybody else wishes to accept that fact is completely your choice.
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Old 24th June 2021, 07:02 AM   #29
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Kubur, I thank you for your very knowledgeable and perceptive comments, I believe you are expert in your own field and I have absolutely no desire at all to challenge your deep knowledge in this field.

Whether you or anybody else wishes to accept that fact is completely your choice.
Hi, I'm no expert in Indonesian weapons, clearly you are! I accept any conclusion based on empirical experience and argumented by facts. And I have a simple question for you, maybe I'm mistaken but it seems to me that these societies are extremely symbolic, just to mention Keris for example. So I'm very sceptical if someone says that these two faces are just two faces.

60 years, Jesus Christ...
:-)
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Old 24th June 2021, 09:28 AM   #30
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Yes Kubur, you're absolutely correct, this sword was produced in Jawa, and Javanese society and culture is very symbolic in nature, but this particular sword was not produced in accordance with Javanese guidelines, it was produced, or rather dressed, for a European client, this dress is colonial dress, not the type of dress that would have been on the blade originally.

I do not think the faces have no purpose, but that purpose was not related to any Javanese symbolism, it is most likely related to the employer of the man who would have worn this sword, in other words, his "Lord", probably on occasion addressed as "Sinuhun", and perhaps a little bit mockingly.

A powerful European master, and clearly a benevolent one, indicated by his broad smile, would have some protective value and would be a constant reminder to the wearer of who paid his wages and provided for his family.
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