981

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Superb Ceremonial Silver-Inlaid Klewang or Parang Betino with Horn Handle, Gold Mounts & Lacquered Scabbard

West Java, Indonesia
mid-19th century

length: 46cm, length of blade: 34cm

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This exquisite ceremonial machete known as a klewang or a parang betino comprises a sharp single-edged steel blade with scrolling foliage open-work inlaid with silver, a carved buffalo horn handle, a filigree gold band and a gold stencilled lacquer wooden scabbard. The top of the blade has been very finely chiselled with a flower-bud motif, marking out the maker as a master craftsman.

It is almost certainly from a palace or a royal court and is of a type given as a ceremonial gift. Indeed, a klewang with a near identical open-work blade and filigree gold mount but with an ivory handle is in the collection of Holland’s royal house of Orange-Nassau, drawn from the collection of Prince Alexander (1851-1884). The Orange-Nassau klewang is illustrated in Wassing-Visser (1995, p.175).

The stencil and lacquer work of the scabbard which shows a scrolling orchid motif is similar to the work undertaken in nearby Palembang, Sumatra, and may indeed be from Palembang. Palembang lacquerwork was traded widely across Sumatra, Java and the Malay peninsular.

The gold filigree band that covers the point where the handles attaches to the blade is similar to the bands found on Malay krises.

The blade does not slide into the scabbard as such but slots in from the top of the scabbard which is open at the top.

Overall, this is a rare and excellent example of this type of Javanese ceremonial weapon.

References

Stone, G.C., A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armour, Jack Brussel, 1961.

Wassing-Visser, R., Royal Gifts from Indonesia: Historical Bonds with the House of Orange -Nassau (1600-1938), Waanders Publishers, 1995.

 

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