A princely Preanger Gobang
The Preanger area or as the Javanese call it themself: ‘Tanah Prijangan’ is a large area in Mid-West Java. This indigenous sword which can be found in the first half of the 19th century is the so called ‘Gobang Bandung’.
They come in different varieties. Mostly with a simple, yet elegant handle and scabbard with wide mouth going into a narrow scabbard with a wide foot. Often made of two sheets of wood covered with rattan and cloth.
Some examples have richly decorated hilts depicting mythical creatures as can be seen here.
Swords like these are very scarce on the market, many of them are in private collections or museums such as the Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde and the Tropenmuseum.
Swords like these were used to hunt deer while riding a horse. This was a sport practised by Nobleman and Princes to show off their skills by killing the deer by a single strike in the neck.
Extremely rare and much likely ordered by a dignitary and given as a present allthough its capability to fight with. A very long example measuring over 70cm which is above average for this type. Because of the documentation and research done on this type I date this example circa 1800-1820.
The blade is thick, sharp, well forged and contains a nice variety of fullers starting with two wide fullers ending up in three narrow fullers running down the whole blade. The steel has an interesting welding pattern which comes clearly through due to a recent etching. The spine has a raised edge running down the entire blade.
The scabbard is made of silver, probably produced in one of the famous workshops around Jogjakarta. Very fine craftmanship as we are used to see from this area. The scabbard is engraved and embossed by hand depicting typical floral motifs in excellent condition. On the back is a silver locket to attach the sword on the waist.
A very interesting example with princely allure, excellent sharp blade and very fine scabbard. Examples like these are very scarce and rarely depicted in literature. A photo from 1880 shows a collection of weapons from Java and other origin with several Gobang Bandung on the background, likely to refer to the important history of a governor, because they ran out of fashion and use in the mid 19th century. I never encountered a silver clad example before, not even in museums.
Condition: Excellent, the blade is very well preserved and had a recent etching. The silver on the scabbard is excellent, the hilt aswell with some minor ware due to it’s age.
Blade length: 56.3cm
Blade spine thickness: 11mm
Total length: 71cm
Weight: 885 gram.
Provenance: A Dutch private collection who whishes to stay anonymous.
Museum collection examples:
– Antiques by the Sea, sold in 2019 here.
– Topenmuseum Amsterdam, Coll. nr. H-275 – H-276 – H-277
– Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, Coll. nr. 1714
– Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Coll. nr. 16/12 – 16/13 – 285/5 – 300/1447 – 913/70 and 913/71
Note: Non of these museum examples has a silver clad scabbard.
– Research on a Preanger sword by Maurice Bloebaum (2013)
Copyright by Peter Andeweg – 2020
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