Unusual Nias sword
This item has been sold.
Overall length

Sheathed 68.4 cm

Sword 61.5 cm

Blade length

48 cm

Blade thickness

Base 5 mm

At widening 3 mm

Blade width

Base 30 mm

Start edge 24 mm

33 mm


467 grams

Point of balance

8.4 cm from hilt


Iron, wood, horn, brass, rattan


South Nias


19th to early 20th century


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It has my favourite Nias blade type, referred to as Fischer type C or gari matuwà.It looks like the classic "pirate sword" from popular culture, only in this case, the opposite side of the piece is the edge. This peculiar design was, as per my knowledge, only produced on the tiny island of Nias.

The hilt is made of buffalo horn, which was imported from nearby Sumatra.2 The ferrule is brass. The pommel is carved like a stylized boar, much like other hilts from South Nias, but the designs are in this case more abstract and humble than normally seen. Another peculiar feature is the presence of a mouth with teeth in silver on the pommel, something I have not seen before.

Nias sword hilt



The scabbard consists of two halves of wood, held together by braided rattan bands, and a piece of metal wire. The scabbard is carved with a circular motif and a band that mimics a braid.

There is no attachment for the amulet basket that South Nias swords often have. One sometimes sees a sword like that worn as a second sword next to the one with the amulet basket.



1. Fischer, H.W.; Catalogus van 's Rijks Ethnographisch Museum, Deel IV, de Eilanden om Sumatra. E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1909. Page 39. For gari matuwà, see: Engelbertus Eliza Willem Gerards Schröder; Nias. Ethnographische, geographische en historische aanteekeningen en studiën. Brill, Leiden. 1917. Page 235.
2. Th. C. Rappart; Het Eiland Nias en Zijne Bewoners. Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde. s' Gravenhage. 1909. Page 529.

Also see my glossary article: belatu.

Unusual Nias sword
Unusual Nias sword
Unusual Nias sword
Unusual Nias sword
Unusual Nias sword
Unusual Nias sword
Unusual Nias sword

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Currently available:

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


Description A rather unusual Vi


With broad silver-clad scabbard, worked entirely in repousse.


With markings attributing it to the Tongzhou incident and a Japanese surrender tag.


Collected by a Russian prince from the hill peoples of central Vietnam in 1892.


Found in excavated condition, published with results of c-14 and XRF analysis.