3375

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Balinese Silver-Mounted Ritual Knife (Suddha-Mala)

Bali, Indonesia
19th-early 20th century

length: 28cm, width of blade at widest point: 3.8cm, weight: 162g

Available - Enquire

Provenance

UK art market

This ritual knife or axe comprises an iron blade with one side plain and the other inlaid with silver strips, and a wooden handle encased in thick sheet silver, with the end filled with a natural resin or pitch. The silver inlay to the blade is in a meandering Hindu swastica motif.

Such blades were used on Bali for suddhamala rites – exorcism rituals designed to purify living people of demons, although Reichle (2010, p. 216) says that such machete-like axes belong to a class of Balinese weapons most likely used during death rituals.

Two related examples appear in Ramseyer (1977, plate 94) and Reichle (2010, p. 216).

The knife is in fine condition. The silver handle has a fine patina. The iron of the blade has the expected tarnishing, and there is some minor loss to the silver inlay.

References

Ramseyer, U., The Art and Culture of Bali, Oxford University Press, 1977.

Reichle, N. (ed.), Bali: Art, Ritual & Performance, Asian Art Museum, 2010.

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