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Superb Ceremonial Silver-Inlaid Klewang or Parang Betino with Horn Handle, Gold Mounts & Lacquered Scabbard
Sumatra, Indonesia, most probably Palembang
mid-19th century

length: 46cm, length of blade: 34cm

This exquisite ceremonial machete known as a klewang or a parang betino comprises a sharp, pierced, single-edged steel blade with scrolling foliage open-
work inlaid with silver, a carved buffalo horn handle, a gold filigree band and a gold stencilled lacquer wooden scabbard. The top of the blade has been very
finely chiselled with a flower-bud motif, marking out the maker as a master craftsman. The bulbous hilt has a leafy crest in the Palembang style.

The
klewang almost certainly is from a palace or a royal court and is of a type given as a ceremonial gift. Indeed, a klewang with a near identical open-work
blade and filigree gold mount but with an ivory handle is in the collection of Holland's royal house of Orange-Nassau, drawn from the collection of Prince
Alexander (1851-1884). The Orange-Nassau
klewang is illustrated in Wassing-Visser (1995, p.175).  Another is illustrated in Hales (2013, p. 203). These two
and the example here comprise all three known examples as far as we know.

The stencil and lacquer work of the scabbard shows a scrolling orchid motif and is typical of Palembang lacquerwork. The scabbard appears to have a light
cover of varnish to protect the lacquerwork.

The gold filigree band that covers the point where the handles attaches to the blade is similar to the bands found on Malay krises. It is decorated with the
telur
ikan
(fish egg) motif – small applied gold beads among strands of applied gold filigree.

The blade does not slide into the scabbard but slots in from the top. The scabbard has an open-back edge to allow the blade to drop in.

Overall, this is a rare and excellent example of this type of ceremonial weapon.

References:
Hales, R.,
Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime's Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.
Stone, G.C.,
A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armour, Jack Brussel, 1961.
Wassing-Visser, R.,
Royal Gifts from Indonesia: Historical Bonds with the House of Orange -Nassau (1600-1938), Waanders Publishers, 1995.

Provenance: private collection.

Inventory no.: 3209

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