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-   -   ID help unusual Indonesian (?) tombak (?) w/ elaborate carved scabbard (

DavidsCharlie 12th September 2020 01:11 PM

ID help unusual Indonesian (?) tombak (?) w/ elaborate carved scabbard
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Please pardon the mediocre photos and any gaps in the description. My Dad collected this handmade blade at least 30 years ago, in the US or by mail, left no records. The blade has rather rough striations from the folding, and although the patina goes to the edge, it's sharp enough to cut yourself on, and so appears to retain an original, pre-collection edge. The metal is ferrous and looks and feels like high-carbon steel. Methuk (if that is the term) is one piece w/ blade and tang. Blade fits snugly into scabbard, needs a firm tug to take it out, slight polish on the metal from the fit, definitely an original pair. The slight crookedness of the rather long tang appears to be as it came from the smith, and the dirt, wear and minor damage to the scabbard appears to be from natural pre-collection handling. The chipped place on the tip of the scabbard is smoothed some from handling. Blade about 10.5", tang about 6.5". I have found things of this general type online and in this forum, but nothing quite like this. Thanks in advance for ANY help identifying the origin and possible age, any info or leads about ethnographic context (used for combat, hunting, social display, magic?), methods of manufacture, and what it might have looked like when hafted (such as ferrule or not?).

A. G. Maisey 13th September 2020 09:24 PM

This is a typical Javanese or Madurese tombak of ordinary quality. The type of thing that would be issued to guards, or in early times to levies.

The long tang is usual for tombak that were actually intended for use, later tombak, say form mid-19th century in Jawa, often had shorter tangs, and old tombak that were remounted as daggers or into display shafts frequently had the tang shortened. This tombak is a definite user, probably Mataram era, but unlikely to be from the Mataram heartland, more likely East Jawa or Madura.

It is a pretty fair example.

Gavin Nugent 14th September 2020 11:16 AM

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Its always nice to find the spear heads with the covers, nicer still to find full complete spears.

He is a little detail extract from one sitting here on my desk.

Alan, how common was it to have the blades of these spear heads "signed" for want of a better word or perhaps better suited, "engraved" with native script?


A. G. Maisey 14th September 2020 11:40 AM


I cannot recall seeing a tombak blade with any engraving of text.

I do have a couple of tombak from the Mangkunegaraan armoury that have dates on the metuks. I have a Jayasukadgo tombak with heavy kinatah work.

I have a couple of "souvenir" type, very poor quality tombak that have been "batiked", ie, letters have been acid etched onto the blade, one of these has Chinese ideographs that read "big man San Po Kong". This sort of thing is common, they come from North Coast and East Jawa, and refer to Cheng Ho (Zheng He), the Chinese commander of the Ming Treasure Fleet that visited Jawa during the Mojopahit era and helped to spread Islam there. They are cheap talismanic things. Most that we see are pretty recently made, very poor quality but genuinely old tombak that have been acid etched after having been waxed to create the letters.

Gavin Nugent 15th September 2020 12:48 AM

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Hi Alan,

See below the detail mentioned.... I think better placed here than a new thread unless others think its worth discussing separately or within the Keris forum.


A. G. Maisey 15th September 2020 01:45 AM

I do not recognise the script Gavin, could you post a pic of the full blade?

Gavin Nugent 15th September 2020 03:52 AM

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Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I do not recognise the script Gavin, could you post a pic of the full blade?

As requested.

Twisted pesi with a small hook to the very end,
I suspect the hook was to help keep it in place when resin set?


A. G. Maisey 15th September 2020 08:09 AM

Maybe, or maybe some other reason, it is not usual, so who knows?

Thanks for the pic Gavin, sorry, I cannot pic up anything from that.

DavidsCharlie 21st September 2020 07:42 PM

Thank you A.G. Maisey
I greatly appreciate the very focused information -- it gives me more leads to follow, and confirms my impression that this was originally a 'working' weapon.

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