Piso Sanalenggam Sword
Place of Origin: Batak, North Sumatra, Indonesia
Date: 19th Century
A wonderful example of its type, this sword is not only a beautifully decorated object but also a highly effective weapon. The handle is carved from buffalo horn and has a bi-furcated pommel with two goose-neck finials. The upper part of the handle is shaped into a ‘pistol grip’, encouraging the user to naturally grasp the sword in a way that facilitates the cut as well as the thrust. Geometric patterns carved into the handle elevate the level of decoration and aid the wielder’s grip. A long, brass collar is finished with intricate wire work. The big, bellied blade is forged from high quality crucible steel and has a very thick spine marked with a single X within parallel lines, its exaggeratedly clipped tip ensures this slashing weapon can also be used for stabbing.
The scabbard is painted with a vivid black and red theme, a shallow valley running down one half and a series of painted triangles on the other. A narrow border of the same wavy line design seen in the grip separates panels of more complex designs on the scabbard, and a carved device, presumably meant to aid in the slinging of the sword, is set upon a large decorative panel of naughts and crosses.
With the practical, high quality properties of the blade and the significant amount of decoration on the scabbard this sword is something of a hybrid and must have been made for a man of high status and competent fighting abilities.
Provenance: UK art market.