Celurit Weapon Form

Celurit weapon from Madura, Indonesia

Code IN81

A Madurese Celurit (Clurit, Sabit). This crescent-shaped knife is a purely weapon form of the traditional edged weapon of the Madurese people of the island of Madura off the northeastern coast of Java. Multiple forms of the celurit are found, some better suitable to agriculture and others more suited to fighting. This distinctively Madurese weapon has a terrifying reputation and has probably been responsible for more deaths by violence than any other weapon in the Indonesian catalogue of weaponry. A similar weapon is found in East Java with a much slimmer shape.

This celurit has a robust pamor blade. The hardwood hilt forms a socket for secure fit of the celurit blade. An embossed leather sheath is a more recent addition.

Dimensions: Blade length across the curve  9.75" (247mm) overall length across the curve 18.5" (470mm). 

There are a number of forms of the celurit, from a small household one that is used to prune garden shrubs, through to a massive one that is used to split firewood. Rural people in Madura and East Java (Jawa) are seldom without a celurit either dangling from the left hand or stuck into the back of their belt or trousers. As a consequence, if a difference of opinion should escalate, the weapon that is always close at hand is the celurit. In rural areas, the Madurese adhere to an ancient tradition of vendetta, a batle of honor. Dozens of cases are recorded each year. Most often the reason for attack is misconduct towards women, property disuptes, and sometimes merely a perception of insufficiently polite treatment or insult to honor in public places. In such cases, the celurit may be prepared for battle by the casting of special spells on the weapon. 

The celurit has also been used as a weapon of political mass violence. During the purges of Communists in the 1960's celurits were used extensively for mass execution. Suspected Communists and Communist sympathizers --- along with ethnic Chinese and a lot of people whose only sin was to be disliked for some reason or other, or who were owed money --- were lined up and the executioners walked along the back of the line cutting throats. These mass killings took place during 1965 and 1966 and the death toll is reckoned to have been somewhere between one million and three million people. (reference)

From the Collection of A. Maisley