A Madurese keris hilt, carved from dark hardwood in the form of a Dutch cuirassier.
Sheathed 90.2 cm
Saber 71.5 cm
Base 4 mm
Middle 4 mm
Near tip 3 mm
Base 26.5 mm
Middle 24.5 mm
Near tip 22.5 mm
Nguyễn dynasty, Vietnam
Brass, hardwood, silver, copper, mother-of-pearl, ivory, silk
Probably mid 19th century
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A very fine Vietnamese ceremonial saber, also called thanh gươm (劍). The blade is made of brass, purely ceremonial, its only function is to keep the hilt and scabbard together.
The hilt has a large copper D-shaped guard with silver edging, extending from a silver lion pommel to a silver ferrule with bands of braided silver wire. It has a finely carved ivory grip with on each side a cartouche with a branch of blossoming plum and two plaques with stylized longevity symbols. The back of the grip is carved with manes, an extension of the manes of the stylized lion head pommel. All hilt mounts with a deep dark blue hue, indicating silver of very high purity.
The scabbard is made of beautiful hardwood of a warm, deep almost purplish color. It is fitted with three silver mounts in typical Vietnamese fashion. Each mount is worked in repousse with designs of traditional dragons among clouds. The work, especially on the scabbard mouthpiece and endpiece, is some of the finest I've seen on these, ranking among the very best silverwork coming out of Vietnam.
Each exposed wooden panel of the scabbard is finely inlaid on both sides with mother-of-pearl. The designs depict squirrels on grapevines and butterflies visiting fruity branches. Like the silverwork, the quality of the inlays ranks among the very finest I have seen so far.
The scabbard retains the original tassel you often see on old photographs.
In near-excellent condition. Some damage to the brass blade's tip (who cares?), and some very minor denting on some of the silver. See pics. One silver "curl" missing at the scabbard endpiece, the other side still retains it. Some movement in the hilt, which is common on these.
Ceremonial Vietnamese arms are mainly collected for the quality of the mother-of-pearl inlays, and the quality of the silverwork on their hilts and scabbards. This example ranks among the very best of its kind in both the inlays and the silverwork.
To meet the demands of the Convention International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), this object is sold with an appraisal document from a certified Dutch appraiser of the TMV Federation. Among others, it states that: The item is manufactured in the 19th century. Scabbard inlays are of mother of pearl taken from the shell of the abalone species pinctada margaritifera, non-CITES listed. The handle is bone, with carved ivory pommel of the species elephas maximus, listed on CITES appendix I.
The item is within article 2 of council regulation EC NO338/97 and within Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES): The materials were removed from the wild and significantly altered from their natural state well before the date of convention: June 1st, 1947. It can be freely traded within the EU without a permit, and is eligible for CITES export permit for trade outside of the EU.*
*Buyers outside of Europe: Beware that it may not be possible to export the item to your country due to restrictions on international ivory trade. CITES sets the minimal restrictions, countries and states under the convention often maintain further restrictions on top of CITES.
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