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A CHENANGKAS

Place of Origin: MALAYSIAN PENINSULAR

Date: 17th - 18th Century

Overall: 1030mm (40 ½ inches)

Reference: 282

Status: Available

Full Description:

A fine and historical sword comprising a gilt-brass hilt and unusual Persian trade blade.

The gilt-brass hilt is close in form to the tulwar-type, many believing that contact with Indian merchants via trade routes played a role in the hilt-forms of bladed Malaysian weapons. The grip, lobed langets, and floral trefoil quillons are engraved closely with a compact arrangement of flowerheads, a flower in bloom just at the base of the grip. The pommel is cleverly stylised as a blossoming lotus, the pommel-button forming its centre.

The original wootz pattern is still visible on the unusual Persian trade blade which is cut with two shallow fullers close to the back edge. These fullers run along the greater part of the sword’s length (that which is closer to the back-edge tapering to its pointed end just before the other). A faded panel of Quranic calligraphy has been etched onto one face of the blade, a lion-shaped maker’s mark engraved on the other. The blade is satisfyingly complete with its original wooden scabbard, still excellently preserved and attached with a bone tip.

From the beginning of the Muslim era there were extensive trade links between South East Asia and Jeddah where communities of Asian Muslim merchants settled and prospered, particularly in the spice and timber trade. The blade likely owes its fascinating union with this hilt to these same extensive trade links.

This rare sword closely resembles the Malaysian sword-type of the ‘Pedong’, but on account of its straight blade is in fact better categorised as a ‘Chenangkas’. In his 1936 text on the topic of Malay weapons, Gardner noted that “It is often sold to the unwary as a crusader’s sword because the hilt is in the form of a cross with a sort of little cup for the pommel, and the purchaser is told that the crusaders used to receive the Sacramental Wine in this cup before going to battle. (…) Unscrupulous dealers also try to cheat the amateur collector by selling as chenangkas a French sergeant’s sword, period about 1830, of the type called coupe-choux.”[1]

 

[1] G.B. Gardner, Keris and Other Malay Weapons, Progressive Publishing Company, Singapore, 1936, p. 69.