Language: South Nias
Source: Engelbertus Schröder, 1917


Gari matuwà is the South Nias term for a specific type of sword. 


Edge on Nias gari matuwa

A typical gari matuwà. I added a red line showing where the edge is.
Mandarin Mansion inventory 2022.


In period sources

Schröder, who lived on the island for years described it as:

"The edge is considerably shorter than the spine. There is first a sharp bend and then a gradual transition to the point. There are two subtypes, one with a straight spine and another with a curved spine. The latter is also called sò bawa wötō, with a point like the beak of a woodpecker."1

Fischer, writing in 1909, presented a typology of both hilts and blade shapes. He uses letters for each type and does not provide native names for each. The gari matuwà appears to be Fischer type A.

Belatu blade types

After the illustrations by Fischer.
The edge is emphasized for clarity.


Further reading

Glossary article: Belatu


1. Engelbertus Eliza Willem Gerards Schröder; Nias. Ethnographische, geographische en historische aanteekeningen en studiën. Brill, Leiden. 1917. Page 235.
2. Fischer, H.W.; Catalogus van 's Rijks Ethnographisch Museum, Deel IV, de Eilanden om Sumatra. E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1909. Page 39.

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Nice and complete example with talisman basket. Probably 20th century.


Blade marked with VOC Amsterdam monogram, and the year 1769.


With Dutch VOC blade, marked with the Amsterdam monogram.


This peculiar sword was used by the Garo people of Assam for fighting, clearing the jungle, and animal…


The basket hilt is elaborately overlaid with silver in floral designs.

Price on request