A Preanger Gobang sword from Java
Preanger region, Bandung – 1867
Materials: Horn (Babulus Arnee), Ivory (Elephas Maximus), Steel, Iron, Brass, Wood, Rattan
A sword from the Preanger region, called ‘Gobang Bandung‘ is a typical sword used on West-Java in the 19th century. In fact the ‘Gobang Bandung‘ dates, according to studied examples, from between roughly 1820 to 1870. After 1870 the ‘Gobang‘ disappeared and the more mass produced ‘Golok‘ from Cikeruh seemed to dominate the arms-manufacture up till the early 20th century. A very few photo’s from this period are preserved in museum collections where people are supposingly wearing a ‘Gobang‘.
A well made example which probably belonged to someone of significant importance. The latest dated example known in my experience. The date on the blade reads ‘1867’ in European date which is at the latest period the ‘Gobang Bandung‘ was in fashion with the inhabitants of the Preanger district.
Made of white karbouw horn (domesticated buffalo) and categorized in the article of M. Bloebaum as Type I. Described as follows;
‘The most common ones are the sectional quadrangular type of hilts, which bend downwards and are widening towards the flat top. Some are widening more extensively towards the top than others, but all have the same kind of shape. Sometimes the single sections, over the whole length, are made more or less clearly concave. The materials used for this hilt type are wood or horn, a combination of those two, or sometimes totally covered with silver. Some of them have a small silver ferrule (often missing)‘. M.Bloebaum
Rather well made of pattern welded steel. Single edged with a wide fuller on both sides and pronounced spine. The blade has a small curve and shows some similarities with the Dutch military klewang blades. The forte is decorated with an engraved floral motive and dated ‘1867’. An interesting aspect is the pseudo Dutch East India Company mark which seems stylized like a ‘V’ with the ‘O’ and ‘C’. A remarkable feature which could be an attribution to the period, since it is obvious this blade dates more then 60 years after the VOC (Dutch India Company) went bankrupt. When looking at the monogram, the lines seem to have faded due to age which points us to the possibility that the markings were assumably made in the same period as it was dated.
Consisting of two wooden slabs, held together with very thin rattan in a variety of colors to create a striped pattern. The mouth piece is made of ivory and the tip of the scabbard is made of buffalo horn. The tip is decorated with a thin brass fitting which is stamped with meander motives and shows remains of red pigment.
A very fine and large ‘Gobang Bandung‘ of high quality. Due to its length and functionality I presume the sword was used for hunting and probably worn by a local chieftain or a man entrusted with a function within the colonial regime.
Condition: Excellent, the fine welding pattern shows well due to a recent etching and cleaning of the blade. The scabbard is intact, the ivory scabbard piece was restored. Good condition of the rattan scabbard and well preserved blade.
Blade spine thickness: 9mm
Blade length: 56cm
Scabbard length: 59.5cm
Total length: 73.5cm
Provenance: Dutch private collection
– Wereldmuseum Rotterdam acc.nr. 1714
– Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, acc.nr. 16/13
– Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, acc.nr. 285/5
– Tropenmuseum Amsterdam, acc.nr. H-296
– ‘Gobang in Dutch Museum’ by M. Bloebaum
Important note: Made before 1947. Comes with registered certificate, conform CITES law in the European Union. Custom rules apply outside Europe.
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