Golok Sword with Horn, Bone Hilt & Silver Mounts
West Java, Indonesia
length: 63cm, weight: 743g
This fine golok sword is typical of West Java, Indonesia. It has a single-edged steel blade that is slightly curved and which finishes with a point.
The hilt is of finely carved and pierced horn and is on the form of a stylised
wayang figure. The hilt is embellished with two carved bone rings. The cross-guard also is of horn and also incorporates a bone ring that is carved with repeated petal motifs.
The hilt is encased in wood with silver bands and silver sheet decorated with engraved motifs, including a European-style coat of arms with a rampant lion and a dragon to either side. The other motifs are more typically Islamic-Malay featuring scrolling vegetal motifs, particularly on the chape.
The blade is inlaid in brass near the hilt with the letters: ‘S.L.M.T.P.K.’ It is not clear what these letters mean. Although together with the aforementioned coat of arms, the letters suggest noteworthy provenance.
Brinkgreve & Sulistianingsih (2009. p. 151) illustrate a sword with a similarly carved hilt but with a blade etched with
jawi which dates to before 1821 and which had belonged to the Sultan of Palembang – probably a gift from West Java.
Brinkgreve F, & R. Sulistianingsih (eds),
Sumatra: Crossroads of Cultures, KITLV Press, 2009.
Van Zonneveld, A.,
Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago, C. Zwartenkot Art Books, 2001.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 1938
Detail, showing the coat of arms, worked into the silver on the scabbard.