Enquiry about object: 8864
Cirebon Short Sword with Carved Antler Hilt
North Coast, Java, probably Cirebon, Indonesia 18th-19th century
length (with scabbard): 38.2cm, length of blade: 26.7cm, width: 4.6cm, weight: 405g
UK art market
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This fine short sword comprises a straight, single-edged, iron blade with an unusual, complex grain or pamor; a finely carved and pierced hilt of deer antler; and a scabbard of pellet wood.
The hilt ring and scabbard locket and chape are all of silver finely engraved with leaf motifs against a cross-hatched ground. The reverse of the locket has a silver hook to allow the sword to be suspended from a belt.
The hilt is a more complex example of the style often seen from the north coast of Java. It is in the form of a highly stylised Ganesh – stylised to abstraction so as to be in keeping with Islamic precepts of avoiding idolatrous representation. Curls on one side denote the back of the head and a short, thin motif on the other side suggests a trunk.
The sword might be seen as a short version of a pedang lurus, though typically these are longer than the example here.
The hilt is without any loss. There is some loss and splitting to the wooden scabbard, but only on one side for a short section and so not particularly apparent. Overall, this is an unusual sword from Java, with significant age.
Noris, M., Gods, Demons an Ancestors: Art of Indonesian Keris Hilts, 2017.
Van Zonneveld, A., Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago, C. Zwartenkot Art Books, 2001.