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Old 24th May 2021, 06:30 PM   #1
Sajen
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Default A Batak sewar for sharing and discussion

I've won a rare Batak sewar by an English auction house, sadly the scabbard tip is old renewed but the price was right and since these sewars are rather rare I go for it anyway. I've cleaned the blade from rust but I plan to polish it and give it an etch later. I don't remember having seen such a sewar here before so I post it for discussion. It's 35 cm inside scabbard, 30,5 without, blade is 20 cm and 7 mm thick behind the octagonal swelling.
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Old 24th May 2021, 06:33 PM   #2
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And here a picture with an other Batak sewar and a tumbok lada for size comparison.
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Old 26th May 2021, 07:28 AM   #3
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Hello Detlef,

Congrats, that's another good grab!

Yes, definitely a Batak piso. As you mentioned, this blade belongs to a family including sewar-like pieces and what the coastal Malay of the Straits region seem to call tumbok lada; among the Batak, there is a bunch of these with either the bulky ivory hilts or figurally carved pommels.

From the carving motifs, I'd be inclined to lean towards a Karo origin; Simalungan can't be ruled out though. The motif of the silver sleeve has also been seen with blades that seem to suggest a northern influence. Thus, we need to keep Dairi/Pakpak and Alas in mind, too. There even may be a Toba link here - so, we're going pretty much full circle...

This is a topic I'm currently looking into; more data will hopefully allow to reach more reliable conclusions. It will definitely take a while to sort things out though.

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Kai
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Old 26th May 2021, 05:02 PM   #4
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Congrats, that's another good grab!

Yes, definitely a Batak piso. As you mentioned, this blade belongs to a family including sewar-like pieces and what the coastal Malay of the Straits region seem to call tumbok lada; among the Batak, there is a bunch of these with either the bulky ivory hilts or figurally carved pommels.

From the carving motifs, I'd be inclined to lean towards a Karo origin; Simalungan can't be ruled out though. The motif of the silver sleeve has also been seen with blades that seem to suggest a northern influence. Thus, we need to keep Dairi/Pakpak and Alas in mind, too. There even may be a Toba link here - so, we're going pretty much full circle...

This is a topic I'm currently looking into; more data will hopefully allow to reach more reliable conclusions. It will definitely take a while to sort things out though.
Thank you Kai,

I agree that it will be difficult to pin it down to one of the Batak groups since, like you point out, it shows influences from all areas. I was thinking to Toba but I am more as unsure!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 26th May 2021, 05:15 PM   #5
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Hello,
Nice Sewar.
I have seen this style of sewar several times before, often they seem to date from the middle and the first part of the 20th century.
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Old 26th May 2021, 06:47 PM   #6
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I have seen this style of sewar several times before, often they seem to date from the middle and the first part of the 20th century.
Are you sure about SÚverin? It's not like one of the parrot-hilted sewars you may have in mind, look at the details.
I've found only one piece online, seems to be sold online.
The other one I've found is by "The Batak" from A. Sibeth, see picture. I've seen in the last twenty years not many of this sort.
It's not one like in the last picture.
But you may have more luck as I am.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 27th May 2021, 01:11 AM   #7
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I've seen some on sale before in a style between that of the photo in the book (for the handle only) and the style of your handle (Sometimes it almost looked like a Singa), at least once at an antique store but overpriced obviously, and two or three other times in auctions including one in the USA and one in Great Britain where the low estimates + 25-30%+ the shipping were too important for me so I did not try to participate in the sale.
Often these Sewar seemed to be made of horn and had little patina so I had a doubt about their age which seemed to be half of the XXth century and not end of XIXth century or more.
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Old 29th May 2021, 08:34 AM   #8
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Hello SÚverin,

Are you able to provide some pictures?

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Detlef
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Old 30th May 2021, 07:41 PM   #9
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Detlef,

If I am not mistaken, you provided a photo of a page from The Batak by A Sibeth. Does the the book identify the leftmost dagger (the one with the curved blade and brass sheath)? If so, could you please give me the name, area of origin, ethnic group affiliation, etc? I have three of these blades and have been trying for a while to get concrete information about them.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 30th May 2021, 08:15 PM   #10
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If I am not mistaken, you provided a photo of a page from The Batak by A Sibeth. Does the the book identify the leftmost dagger (the one with the curved blade and brass sheath)? If so, could you please give me the name, area of origin, ethnic group affiliation, etc? I have three of these blades and have been trying for a while to get concrete information about them.
Hello Rob,

It's good to read on the picture, "far left: insignia of a Karo Batak pengulu which comes from Aceh; length: c. 35 cm

Frankly said, I doubt this description. Looks North African to me.

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Detlef
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Old 31st May 2021, 12:46 AM   #11
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Detlif,

I also always thought that these blades came from North Africa and have been given information attributing them to the Eritrean region. Googling pengulu yields a definition of "a leader of a colonial-style village or tribe, in some islands of Indonesia" and also an alternate spelling (penghulu). I rather doubt the dagger in question has anything to do with the Karo Batak.

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