A charming Balinese keris holder in the form of Hanuman, the brave monkey king.
Sheathed 64.8 cm
Sword 61.7 cm
Base 5.5 cm
Middle 3 mm
5 cm from tip 1.3 mm
Base 29 cm
Middle 24 mm
5 cm from tip 21.5 mm
6.8 cm from hilt
Iron, steel, black buffalo horn, wood, leather, silver, resin
South Sulawesi (Celebes), Indonesia
Mountings probably 19th century
From a Dutch private collection
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A very nice sword from South Sulawesi. It has a Dutch blade, straight, single-edged with a fuller along the spine. The tip is probably reshaped locally, as the European swords would have the tip radius at the edge side instead of the spine. It is marked with the V.O.C. monogram including the M for the Middelburg chapter, and the year 1773.
The blade is made of layered steel which would make one inclined to think it is local, but European blades from this period were also of forge folded steel. It's just that it was not the European aesthetic to etch it and show the layers, as it was in Indonesia. This blade probably has gotten the acid treatment locally, exposing its layered construction and making it look more like a local blade.
Hilt & scabbard
The hilt has its characteristic curved grip made of a good quality piece of black water buffalo horn. The base of the hilt is made of decorative bands of silver and a bulbous guard/ferrule worked in repousse in traditional designs.
The scabbard is covered with black leather and has a smooth silver throat- and mouthpiece. The throatpiece has a small button in the shape of a stylized bird, a feature that was inspired by that on European hunting hangers. It prevents the scabbard from slipping through the belt or sash it is thrust through.
The elaborate silverwork suggests it was worn by a local leader or at least a very wealthy individual. He may have obtained the blade through the Dutch V.O.C. trade post at Makassar and had it mounted up locally to suit his own taste. A very rare type of sword, with no direct comparables in Dutch museum collections.
A quality piece, complete and in original condition.
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