A pedang suduk sword of the prince Cakraningrat II of Madura




Indonesia, Java or Madura (blade and guard); Sri Lanka (hilt)


Late 17th or early 18th century (blade and guard); 17th century (hilt)


Forging, carving, inlaying


Steel, iron, gold, ivory


Overall length 610 mm; blade length 480 mm

The slightly forward-curved pattern-welded blade is single-edged for more than half its length, and then becomes double-edged and smoothly tapered towards the tip. The shape of the blade (dapur) is known as suduk maru, which can be translated both as "accurate puncture" and as "pure inspiration". The surface pattern (pamor) is called manggar meaning "coconut palm blossom". Each side of the blade is decorated in the sinarasah technique with a gold floral scroll design called lung anggrek. The spine of the blade is inlaid with gold bees and a gold Javanese inscription containing the name of Cakraningrat II (1648-1707), one of the rulers of West Madura. The one-piece octagonal hilt is carved skillfully from ivory with longitudinal ribs and foliate bands. The pommel is formed as a stylized head of lion (Simha) with an open mouth. The guard, the collar and the butt cap of the hilt are made of iron and decorated with gold vegetal motifs using the sinarasah (inlay) technique. No scabbard.

COMMENT. Pedang suduk is a type of Indonesian short sword, which was common in Java but was also found in some other islands of the Malay Archipelago. The name means "thrusting sword". In fact, the pedang suduk is a dagger, unlike another type of Javanese sword called pedang sabet ("cutting sword"), which is analogous to the sabre. Formerly, the pedang suduk was worn by noblemen, officials and officers together with a kris, while the pedang sabet was used mainly by ordinary soldiers. The presented sword was formerly in the collection of Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald (1902-82), a famous German-Dutch paleontologist, anthropologist and geologist, who had lived and worked for a long time in Java. The sword was probably made as regalia for Cakraningrat II, the second prince (pangeran) of West Madura, who ruled from 1680 to 1707. His birth name is Raden Undahan. At that time, West Madura was controlled by the powerful Javanese Sultanate of Mataram. Cakraningrat II spent a lot of time at the Mataram court and enjoyed the esteem of the sultan (susuhunan) Amangkurat I (r. 1646-77) who raised him to the rank of commander in chief (see Husson, L. Eight Centuries of Madurese Migration to East Java // Asian and Pacific Migration Journal. – 1997. – Vol. 6, No. 1. – P. 83) and even appointed him as a temporary chief minister or patih (see Islamic States in Java, 1500–1700: Eight Dutch Books and Articles by Dr. H.J. de Graaf as Summarized by Theodore G.Th. Pigeaud. (Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 70). – Hague, 1976. – P. 137-138). Since 1680, Cakraningrat II ruled a much part of Madura including the Bangkalan and Sampang states. Then he took advantage of the weakening of Mataram to disseminate his authority over the northern coast of East and Central Java (see Ricklefs, M.C. A History of Modern Indonesia since C. 1200. Third Edition. – Basingstoke, 2001. – P. 109-110). As is known, the majority of suduk maru type blades were manufactured in Java during the periods of Tuban (1294-1474) and Mataram (1582-1749), but the described sword could have been made in the Madurese possessions of Cakraningrat II as well. Indeed, the above-mentioned manggar pattern is typical of Madura and rarely found elsewhere (see Ghiringhelli, V. The Invicible Krises 2. – Vercelli, 2007. – P. 112). The lion-headed ivory hilt was made undoubtedly in the Ceylonese Kingdom of Kandy (1469-1815) for a traditional Sinhalese short sabre called kastane. The Kandian court workshops (pattal hatara) were famous not only for their outstanding metalwork, but also for magnificent carved objects from natural materials including ivory. They were greatly appreciated outside of the Kingdom of Kandy. A short sword with a similar Ceylonese ivory hilt and a foreign single-edged blade can be seen in the Sendai City Museum in Japan. Perhaps, this is the oldest surviving kastane hilt with a lion-head pommel. The well-known Japanese traveler and diplomat Hasekura Rokuemon Tsunenaga (1571-1622) bought this sword in the Philippines, where he lived during the 1618-20 (see Sasaki, K. The Kastane and the Kris, Their Arrival in Japan in 1620 // Royal Armouries Yearbook. Vol. 3. – Leeds, 1998. – P. 141-144). Another old ivory kastane style hilt is stored in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (inv. no. IM.10-1910). For some other similar examples, see Bonhams: Islamic & Indian Art Including Carpets. Thursday 8 April 2014, London: [Auction Catalogue]. – London, 2014. – Lot 161A; Hales, R. Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion. – London, 2013. – P. 181, no. 430.

LITERATURE: 1) Kunsthandel Klefisch GmbH. Auction 86: Tribal and Indonesian Art: Estate of G. H. R. von Koenigswald. May 12th, 2007: [Auction catalogue]. – Köln, 2007. – P. 42-43, lot 164; 2) Сіваченко Є. Холодна зброя Сходу з колекції Олександра Фельдмана: [фотоальбом]. – Харків, 2009. – С. 48; 3) Сиваченко Е. Сталь и Золото: Восточное оружие из собрания Feldman Family Museum = Steel and Gold: Eastern Weapons from the Feldman Family Museum Collection. – Киев, 2019. – С. 562-565, №237.