Palembang sword with European blade
Overall length

Sheathed 94.8 cm

Sword 76.5 cm

Blade length

76.5 cm

Blade thickness

Base 8.5 mm

Middle 6 mm

At start backedge 2.5 mm

Blade width

Base 35.5 mm

Middle 30 mm

At start backedge 28.5 mm

Weight without scabbard

680 grams

Point of balance

15.8 cm from hilt

Materials

Iron, steel, hardwood, silver, buffalo horn.

Origin

Blade British

Hilt Palembang, Sumatra

Dating

Blade manufactured between 1796-1824.

Conversion is probably done in 1832.

 

Provenance

European antique art market

Sold

Interested?
Anything similar for sale?

Contact me

Introduction

 

This example

An interesting specimen with imported European blade of British 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword pattern, a sword that was famously used by British cavalry at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

These were large backswords (single-edged straightswords) with a prominent hollow ground and a double-edged tip. The sword entirely follows that pattern, save for the tip which was reground to resemble the local fashion.

The sword had various markings and engravings at the forte, most of which seem to have been purposefully removed. The presence of engravings means it was an officer's sword, probably once blued and gilt as well.

What remains is some floral decor and a bow, arrows, and a cannon on the right side, and floral engravings and remains of two lines of text on the other side. I can't make them out, but here is a close-up of the marks for any who wants to research them further:

 

Markings on 1796 British heavy cavalry backsword

 

Added later, in Arabic script, is:

  سال ١٨٣٢ 

"Year 1832"

 

1832

 

Hilt & scabbard

The piece is mounted in typical Palembang style hilt made of finely pierced and carved buffalo horn, plated with silver plates in fine repousse work with detailed chasing and chiseling.

The later scabbard is of two halves very dark wood, stained to almost black, held together by three silver mounts and five silver bands. All are worked in repousse with floral motifs, but the work is of lesser quality than the hilt.

 

Condition

Sword in pretty good condition. Some usual staining to the blade, but no significant blade damage. The hilt has a bare, uncarved section that was probably also once covered with silver sheet, now lost. Scabbard overall in good condition, with some denting to the silver, especially at the chape. Fittings are a bit loose due to shrinkage of the wood over the years, a normal occurrence especially on pieces that were produced in very humid regions and now kept in dryer conditions.

 

Context

One wonders how a British backsword ends up in local Indonesian mounts. The British had a strong presence on the island of Sumatra from 1685–1824 under the name of British Bencoolen, which was ceded to the Dutch by means of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. It is likely that the sword ended up there prior to 1824 and was obtained by a local through trade or captured during a conflict and mounted in local style.

 

Conclusion

A very nice combination of the fearsome 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword and finely made local Palembang style hilt and scabbard. The work on the hilt is particularly impressive, with fine carving and repousse work that stands out above most pieces made in this style.

British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt
British 1796 heavy cavalry sword with Sumatran Palembang style hilt

Do you have anything for sale?

I might be interested in buying it.

Contact me

An unusual variety, shortened to carbine size, with a chicken wing wood stock.

€1600,-

Its blade with very fine and complex pamor, brought out by a polish.

€2200,-

With Hindu style basket hilt and local blade in European style.

€1200,-

Cast brass shield of a purely ceremonial type that was used during sword dances in Aceh.

€350,-

A large gun with English flintlock mechanism, as favored by the Mirs of the Talpur court. In very good…

Price on request

Based on the Dutch Beaumont mechanism, but with Indonesian twist forged barrel and golden inlays.

€5000,-