Enquiry about object: 1948

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Fine Malay Sewar Dagger with Pierced Hippopotamus Tooth & Gold, Silver & Horn Mounts

Sumatra/Malay Peninsula
19th century

length: 28cm, weight: 129g



private collection, London

This superb Malay sewar dagger has a slightly curved, long, thin damascened blade. The hand guard and the hilt are of pierced hippopotamus tooth, and are beautifully carved with Islamic-Malay inspired leafy scrollwork.

The hilt ring is of gold and is decorated with gold filigree and granulation work in a manner known as telur ikan (‘fish egg’) decoration.

The scabbard is of buffalo horn, and this is held together with rings of silver and a silver chape.

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, and also the varying tone, density and seams associated with hippopotamus tooth. Overall, this is a beautiful example.


Gardner, G.B., Keris and other Malay Weapons, Orchid Press, 2009 (reprint of 1936 original).

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