Rawit Ancestor Hulu

A large rawit knife from Sumatra, Indonesia c. mid-1800's

Code: IN53

A large rawit knife from Sumatra, Indonesia c. mid-1800's. The rawit is a working knife typical of the Batak people in northern Sumatra. It appears in a number of sizes. This one is relatively large. Compare it to this very small rawit used, for example, to split rattan.

Overall length from tip of blade to pommel is 15 ½ inches. The well-forged blade 11 ⅜ inches long, 1 ¼ inch wide at the "belly", and ⅝ inches thick tapering only slightly for 10 inches from the hilt, thereafter thinning rapidly to the tip of the blade. The back of the blade is straight and the edge is convex. The blade is triangular in cross-section and sharpened only on the left-side in a chisel type grind. The feel of the knife in the hand is very sturdy and somewhat heavy. The size and the shape of the hilt do not afford a strong grip. Perhaps it is better suited to a smaller hand. The hilt itself is carved horn with an ancestor figure at the pommel.

Note: Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The term is used to include the Alas, Kluet, Singkil, Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Toba, Angkola, and Mandailing which are distinct but related groups with distinct, albeit related, languages and customs (adar).

The Batak were known as eager cannibals by many visitors to the ports of northern Sumatra, including Marco Polo and others who documented their experiences with the tribe.