Javanese Silver Naga Badek
Region: Java, Indonesia
Period: 19th century
Materials: Steel, Iron, Silver, Horn (Bubalus Bubalis), Wood
The ‘Badek’ or ‘Badik’ is a short stabbing sword or dagger which is mostly seen on Sumatra, Sulawesi, Madura and Java. The Javanese examples generally distinguish themselves by their steep angled hilts. In many cases the origin of these ‘Badik’ daggers is hard to pinpoint exactly since their influence scatters throughout the whole archipelago. In this case, I feel confident to attribute this example to Java, mainly due to the typical ‘Naga’ chiseled in the blade and forged pamor.
Made of domesticated buffalo horn (karbouw), with its distinguished steep and plain form. The hilt emerges from a bulbous silver guard which is facetted in eleven oval formed cartouches being embossed in silver. The scabbard follows the form of the blade, straight and has an oval cross section. The end of the scabbard shows a similar bulbous silver assembly with on the front a decorative element which could represent some sort of magical component.
A high quality, traditionally forged blade, made by a gifted empu. The blade shows an ancient form with a reinforced spine ending in a double edged tip. The construction of the blade shows a series of folded steel combined called ‘twist core’ steel and is very hard to forge and can be attributed to a person of higher class. The forte is decorated with a ‘Naga’, a mythological creature which descends from Hindu culture. The ‘Naga’ is depicted in two stages; alive with his tail bend in several curves or resting with its tail straight as can be seen here. The tail of the ‘Naga’ flows alongside the fuller and functions as the blade’s spine. During the last ten years, I never came across a similar high quality blade on a ‘Badek’ like this.
Condition: Very good, the silver hook on the scabbard seems an older restoration. Further excellent condition.
Hilt length: 15.4cm
Blade length: 29.6cm
Blade spine thickness: 9mm
Total length: 48cm
Provenance: European Art market
Literature: A. van Zonneveld’s ‘Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago’
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