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COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Slagzwaard met ijzeren lemmet TMnr A-1236.jpg
South Sumatran klewang, pre-1889
Place of originMalay archipelago region
Service history
WarsAceh War
Indonesian National Revolution
Length40–70 cm

Blade typeSingle edge, slight convex grind
Hilt typeWater buffalo horn, wood

The klewang or kelewang is a class of bladed weapon between the sword and machete originating in Indonesia but also found in Malaysia.


An Acehnese collection of Kris (hung vertically) and Klewang (hung diagonally) during the Dutch colonial period, c. 1893–95.

During the Aceh War the Acehnese klewang proved very effective in close quarters combat against the sabre-wielding Dutch troops and the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army. Mobile troops armed with carbines and klewang succeeded in suppressing Aceh resistance where traditional infantry with rifle and bayonet had failed.

From 1898 until the 1960s the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, Royal Dutch Army, Royal Dutch Navy and Dutch police used the militarised version of the klewang. These military versions were shortened sabres completely by European design, and better suited for close quarter fighting and jungle warfare. Officially the weapon was named the Marechaussee-sabre but the name klewang was more popular and later on also used as an official model.

Even from the time after Aceh was pacified by the Dutch to the 1930s and right through World War II, lone wolf Acehnese without generals would still attack Europeans in hopes of getting martyred themselves and attaining paradise. Weapons used in such cases were usually klewang, if not the Rencong.[1]

Ceremonial use[edit]

Colour Guard Regiment "van Heutsz".

In the Royal Netherlands Army the klewang is still used as a ceremonial weapon by the colour guard of the Regiment van Heutsz which took over the traditions of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, where the klewang was historically used as a side arm. The Royal Constibulary or Koninklijke Marechaussee and the Midshipmen of the Royal Dutch Navy also carries the Klewang in ceremonies and parades.


The klewang features a single-edge blade with a protruding notch near its tip.[2] In size, weight and shape it is halfway between the golok and the kampilan. The style of the klewang differs between the various cultures of Indonesia. Blades range from 15 to 30 inches (38 to 76 cm) in length and may be straight or slightly curved.[3] It is carried for show by followers of chiefs, or taken on expeditions to market or nightly walks in the villages. It is worn without a sheath[4] although there are sheathed varieties.

In Malaysia, the klewang may be found in various states. The Kelantanese klewang features a curve blade with a spike, and was worn by men in the 19th century at the back of the sarong with the blade protruding.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James T. Siegel (2011). Objects and Objections of Ethnography. Fordham Univ Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-08-232-3274-1.
  2. ^ Weapons and fighting arts of Indonesia, Donn F. Draeger, Tuttle Publishing, Apr 15, 1992 p.33
  3. ^ Albert G Van Zonneveld (2002). Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago. Koninklyk Instituut Voor Taal Land. ISBN 90-5450-004-2.
  4. ^ Christian Snouck Hurgronje (1901). The Acehnese, Volume 1. Book On Demand. ASIN B005G1O9SM.
  5. ^ Farish Noor & Eddin Khoo (2012). Spirit of Wood: The Art of Malay Woodcarving. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-14-629-0677-2.

External links[edit]