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Makassan dagger or Badik

Date: before 1991
Dimensions:
Overall: 15 mm, 0.1 kg
Medium: Wood, silver, iron or steel alloy
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Armament
Object Name: Badik
Object No: 00018181
Place Manufactured:Indonesia
Related Place:Indonesia,

User Terms

    Description
    This knife is known as a badik, and is traditionally associated with the coastal tribes of southern Sulawesi. It is believed that the badik held mysterious powers similar to that of the Malay Kris. They are still commonly worn in Sulawesi today.

    Macassan traders visited the northern Australian coast for centuries before the European arrival. Macassarese badiks are represented in at least one rock painting in Arnhem land.
    SignificanceThis object is symbolic of both the strong association between the Macassan people and the badik, as well as the long presence of Macassan traders in northern Australia.
    HistoryThe badik is traditionally associated with the coastal tribes of southern Sulawesi including the Bugis and Makassarese. It is believed that the badik held mysterious powers similar to that of the Malay Kris. They are still commonly worn in Sulawesi today. The Makassarese Badik typically has a 45º conic pistol grip, and a thinner blade than the Bugis variety.

    This example is believed to originate from the maritime kingdom of Bone on the western shores of the Gulf of Bone, South Sulawesi. This is a very fine example, exhibiting particularly skilled workmanship of the wooden sheath which is, unusually, carved from a single piece of wood.

    Too fine to have been carried by an ordinary perahu seaman, a dagger of this sort would be an heirloom owned by a person of some status, a category which could well include prosperous trepan traders, perahu owners, senior captains or fleet leaders.

    Since at least the 17th century Macassan traders from Indonesia were coming to the shores of northern Australia on an annual basis to harvest trepang (sea cucumbers, beche de mer) - a delicacy favoured throughout Asia, particularly in China. At the time, Macassan traders were travelling in the most technologically advanced vessels seen in Australian waters.

    In their prahus (also spelled perahu) they sailed down during the monsoonal wet season and returned at the start of the dry season to trade with Dutch and Chinese merchants. They also collected and traded other marine products such as pearls, pearl shell, trochus shell, fish, turtle shells and meat. This trade started to decline at the turn of the 20th century when the Australian government introduced customs taxes and license fees as a deterrent.

    The contact between the local Indigenous people, the Yolngu and the Macassans had an impact on both cultures in aspects of art, trade, technology, language, economy and even marriage. The Macassan visitors are remembered in Indigenous oral history, ceremonies and paintings depicting Macassan prahus.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Makassan dagger or Badik

    Primary title: MAKASSAN DAGGER, POSSIBLY MANUFACTURED IN INDONESIA

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