Place of Origin: Sumatra, Aceh
Date: 19th Century
This sword is a highly desirable example of its type and boasts numerous inscriptions to the blade. The forked hilt has been profusely carved and presents neatly chequered panels and triangular sections of scrollwork. The blade is chased with Arabic numbers and scripts and inlaid with silver wire. The hilt probably comes from the 19th century, but the blade is conceivably earlier.
At the ricasso, on both sides, there can be seen talismans that contain magic numbers and the words of the basmalah. Below the talisman on side A is an inscription, undeciphered, while below the talisman on side B is an Arabic inscription, partly deciphered:
On sides A & B are talismans containing magic numbers and the words of the basmalah.
Below the talisman on side A is an inscription, undeciphered.
Below the talisman on side B is an Arabic inscription, partly deciphered:
هذا وفق ...
“This is the talisman …”
In the two lines on side A below the talisman, continuing on the two lines in the same place on side B and then down the back spine of the blade, a quotation from the Qur’an:
لن يضروكم الا ا[ذ]ى وان يقاتلوكم يولوكم / الادبار ثم لا ينصرون ضربت / علیهم الذلة این ما ثقفوا الا بحبل من الله وحبل من الناس و با[ء]و[ا] بغضب من الله وضربت علیهم السکینة ذلك بأنهم کانوا یکفرون بایات الله ویقتلون الانبیاء بغیر حق ذلك بما عصوا وکانوا یعتدون
“They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance; if they come out to fight you, they will show you their backs, and no help shall they get. Shame is pitched over them (Like a tent) wherever they are found, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah and from men; they draw on themselves wrath from Allah, and pitched over them is (the tent of) destitution. This because they rejected the Signs of Allah, and slew the prophets in defiance of right; this because they rebelled and transgressed beyond bounds.” (Surah III (Al ‘Imran), vs. 111-112.)
Translation, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation & Commentary (3rd ed.), Lahore, 1938.
Three examples of this type of sword are published in probably the most important and widely referred-to book on Indonesian weapons available: Albert van Zonneveld’s Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago, 2001, p.126. None of the three have blades inscribed in this way.
Provenance: European private collection.