Gowa, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Dagger, 18th–19th century
gold, iron, gemstones, wood
48.0 x 16.5 x 5.5 cm
National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta
This ceremonial dagger or sabre, kelewang, was created for ceremonial display in the Islamic courts of Southeast Asia. Daggers with elaborate sheathes and hilts were an essential feature of formal attire for aristocratic men (and occasionally for women) across Southeast Asia. The sheath of this straight-bladed kelewang is richly decorated with scrolling motifs and jewels. Unusually for this type of weapon, the dagger’s hilt is in the form of a mythical naga snake with ruby eyes.