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Old 7th September 2020, 11:28 PM   #15
JeffS's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: COVID refugee
Posts: 115

Originally Posted by kai
Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the additional pics! This is a tough nut to crack and will possibly need detailed personal examination for reliable results.

From the pics, my estimate would be:
1. Genuine antique rencong blade from Aceh (these are known to have diffundated into more southern areas)
2. The hilt with silver ferrule vibes well with Karo Batak usage; might well be antique or possibly pre-WW2. How is the bone(?) end piece attached?
3. The carved motifs on the scabbard appear to be a somewhat later style that developed during the 20th century; it seems to often come out of workshops in Medan rather than traditional Batak regions. The type of crosspiece is not typical for any Batak group (also of Aceh origin originally). From the craftsmanship and materials, I'd be inclined to believe the scabbard is a post-WW2 replacement.

Thank you for the insight, particularly clarifying the blade is rencong. I don't recall how the bone is attached. Wish I could get my hands on it, but currently in storage on the other side of the US. We have solid provenance from between 1915 - 1918 for the entire piece as that is when it was collected (by my mother's late husband's father who was there for work). It had sat in a shoe box since then so the wear visible on it would have been for a period of use before that. Do (or did) the Karo have datu using pustaha like the Toba? It was a fascinating thing to look at (I've attached a couple of pictures of the pages, wish I had taken more of them!) and interesting to wonder if there might be a link between the pustaha and the recong. Sadly the story is lost to time.
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