Enquiry about object: 2403
Malay Sewar Dagger with Silver Mounts
Sumatra/Malay Peninsula 19th century
length: 34.5cm weight: 241g
UK art market
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This elegant sewar dagger has a slightly curved, long, thin damascened blade; a long, thin wooded hilt decorated with four plain silver bands, and a silver tip or chape finely engraved on both sides with typically Malay scrolling foliage and fruits; a plain hand-guard of carved dugong tooth; and a slightly bifurcate hilt; and silver hilt ring.
The teeth of the dugong or sea cow (halicore australis) were a favoured material used on Malay daggers. Dugong flesh was considered a delicacy and the teeth were hard but amenable to carving (Cushman & Milner, 1979).
Sewars were intended as stabbing weapons.
This example is in fine condition. It has a superb patina, particularly the hilt and hand-guard which have a rich, honeyed colour.
Cushman, J.W. & A.C. Milner, ‘Eighteenth and nineteenth-century Chinese accounts of the Malay Peninsula,’ in Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 52, Part 1, 1979.
Gardner, G.B., Keris and other Malay Weapons, Orchid Press, 2009 (reprint of 1936 original).