Sumatran sword with gold covered hilt
This item has been sold.
Overall length

Sheathed 70 cm

Sword 77.7 cm

Blade length

53 cm

Blade thickness

Base 13.7 & 7.3 mm

At widest 5.4 mm

Blade width

Base 23 mm

Widest 37 mm

Weight

628 grams

Point of balance

15 cm from hilt

Materials

Iron, steel, gold, suassa, buffalo horn, wood

Origin

Palembang, Sumatra

Indonesia

Dating

19th century

Provenance

Ex Ami Brown collection

New York

Sold

Interested?
Anything similar for sale?

Contact me

Description

A Sumatran pedang with a straight slashing blade with a downward curving spine. It has a straight-grained laminated blade, etched to form a relief. The thickened base of the blade reminds in form of a Japanese habaki and was likely inspired by one.

The hilt has an oval base made of suassa, a prized copper-gold alloy. Ferrule and grip section are gold-plated silver, gilded through fire gilding which leaves a much thicker layer of gold than today's gilding methods would.

These gilt plates have three stages, with floral scrollwork on the ferrule part, geometric patterns in the center piece, and again floral scrollwork on the last section from which the pommel. 

The pommel is made of carved buffalo horn in a stylized flower bud shape. It has a smooth outside with panels with finely carved leaves on each side. It is a very unusual pommel shape for this type of sword.

The scabbard is remarkably simple, made of two halves of wood with a horn mouth- and endpieces. One would be tempted to think such sumptuous swords would come with more ornamented scabbards, but several of these types including at least one other gold-hilted one came with these scabbards.

 See for example a strongly related sword 
posted by Zebregs&Roëll of Amsterdam.

 

Alloy testing

The alloys in the hilt were tested:
Hilt plating comprises 59.87% gold, 36% silver, 3% copper.
The suassa ferrule consists of an alloy of 52.44% copper, 34.36% gold and 11.4% silver.

 

Dating and attribution

Swords of this general type were made in Sumatra and Lombok. The midsection of the hilt on ours has a pattern that was typical for those produced in Palembang, which were generally of higher quality than the Lombok pieces that were made for the Sasak population there. 

Two others with Palembang provenance are in the Tropenmuseum, accession numbers  TM-A-3999 and  TM-A-4000, both with pre-1887 provenance. Both were deaccessioned from the older Koninklijk Zoölogisch Genootschap Natura Artis Magistra collection.

 

Condition

Some scruffing on the scabbard. Sword and hilt itself in very good condition, only some pitting on the blade. See photos.

 

Provenance

Ex-Ami Brown collection, New York. Then a Hawaiian collection.

 

Conclusion

A very rare Sumatran sword, both in pommel form and the fact its hilt was finished with gold as opposed to the usual silver. I am not aware of any swords of comparable quality in Dutch museum collections, and we have some fine Indonesian arms here. 

It was most likely made for Palembang royalty, early to mid 19th century.

Sumatran sword with gold hilt
Sumatran sword with gold hilt
Sumatran sword with gold hilt
Sumatran sword with gold hilt
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang
Gold hilted sword from Palembang

Do you have anything for sale?

I might be interested in buying it.

Contact me
Currently available:

Made of carved wood with metal inlays for eyes and mouth.

€450,-

Carved of amber-colored horn, with an ancestral face with metal inlays.

€850,-

In the style of a Malay keris panjang.

€1750,-

Nice and complete example with talisman basket. Probably 20th century.

€900,-

Using a possibly captured M1898 "klewang" blade.

€800,-

Its blade with very fine and complex pamor, brought out by a polish.

€2200,-