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Rare, Unsually Large Tridacna Clam Shell Kris Hilt
Malay People, Terengganu, Malaysia
19th century

height (without stand): 11cm, width: 11cm, weight: 302g, height with stand: 17cm

This very rare kris or sword hilt is carved from a single piece of tridacna clam shell. It is unusually large and particularly sculptural. Zoomorphic in styling, the
'nose' is especially elongated, and the top crest is particularly high. It is heavy in the hand - weighing almost a third of a kilogram.  It is from the Malay people
on the East Coast of the Malay Peninsula.

Kris hilts carved from clam shell are very rarely encountered. Few have been illustrated and relatively few are in museums.

The example here comes with a silver-gilt hilt collar (
mendak) that has been chased with flowers all the way around, and a wooden stand.

A smaller example with a less pronounced crest is illustrated in Ghiringhelli (2011, p. 128).

There is a small nick to the to top of the crest but this might be part of small natural cavity in the shell. Overall, the hilt is in excellent condition.

Ghiringhelli, V., Kris Hilts: Masterpieces of South-East Asian Art, 5 Continents, 2011.

Provenance:  UK art market

Inventory no.: 3594

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Click here to see more Southeast Asian weapons and related items.
The example here is on the left. The smaller example on the right is item 3595. Both are shown
together to demonstrate their relative sizes.