Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1872 Batak warrior
Subjectwarrior chief
Culture: Batak
Setting: Dutch war, northern Sumatra late 19thc
Object: swords



Gading / Halasan

* Stone 1934 p503
"PISO GADING.  The type of Battak sword with a fluted ivory hilt." ... [references omitted]

* van Zonneveld 2001 p107
"PISO GADING  SUMATRA, BATAK  A sword with a long, narrow blade ending in a sharp point.  The back is slightly concave, the edge somewhat S-shaped.  Near the hilt the blade is narrower and rectangular in cross-section.  The hilt is short, thick and in the centre thinner forming a kind of hour-glass.  It has deep grooves lengthwise and is often made of ivory or cast brass.  The leather scabbard is thin, broader at the mouth and at the tip lightly and elegantly curved.  If the scabbard is made of wood, it may be decorated, be covered with leather, or have narrow or broad metal strips.  Brass scabbards are found, too.   Their upper parts usually have a metal chain or belt."  [references omitted]

* Steel and magic 2020 p46
"An alternative traditional term for this object, piso gading, refers to its perhaps most striking part of the object: the extremely thick, waisted, and deeply fluted ivory (gading) hilt."

Podang / Duku

* Stone 1934 p503
"PISO PODANG.  A Battak sabre with a cross guard and a large pommel."  [references omitted]

* van Zonneveld 2001 p109-110
"PODANG [PEDANG PAKPAK, PEDANG SHAMSHIR, PISO PODANG, PODONG, SHAMSHIR, TULWAR]  SUMATRA, BATAK  A long, slightly curved sabre often with a European blade.  The name podang may be derived from the Portugese [sic] espadao, pronounced espandang.  Its back is concave, its edge (mata ni podang or baba ni podang) is convex.  Sometimes pamor is found on these blades.  The metal hilt has a cross-piece at the bottom to protect the hand and is more ot less flattened.  It broadens at each end, both roughly diamond-shaped or notched.
"The hilt has a large bowl-shaped pommel to prevent it falling out of the hand.  To make it as light as possible, this pommel is hollow.  In the centre a small protrusion often occurs.  A tuft of hair may be found in the bowl.  Hilts are usually made of brass, but may sometimes be of iron, silver or bronze.  Except for iron examples, they are cast in one piece.  the shape may be an imitation of Indian or Portuguese swords.  This especially goes for the two protrusions on both sides of the hilt parallel to the blade, which fit exactly in the spaces in the scabbard's upper part, as found in most examples.  The scabbard is made of wood, the two parts are held together by metal or rattan strips.  The name for this weapon is (piso) podang amongst Karo-, Toba- and Angkola Batak.  The Asahan Batak call it podong."  [references omitted]

​* Steel and magic 2020 p49
​"Although common, the podang (duku) is highly valued as a status symbol among older, notable warriors.  One can assume that the creation of the podang in Sumatra and in the coastal regions of Borneo originates with the Turkic Seljuk's height of power in the region.  From the sixteenth century onward, however, there was a growing presence of Ottoman as well as Mamluk mercenaries and merchants in the Malay Archipelago.  This can also be considered a reaction to the increasingly aggressive rise of European colonialism, itself a result of the Ottoman Empire's expansion and dominance over old trade routes to the East that forced the Europeans to switch to sea routes."