18th-Century Southeast Asian Weapon Discovered in Welsh Riverbed
The bed of a Welsh river is probably one of the last places you would expect to uncover a historic Asian artifact.
For more than 30 years, Andrew Davies, chairman of the Carmarthen Coracle and Netsman Association, has spent his time out on the water in his coracle, a type of small Welsh boat. Recently, as Wales Online reports, he dredged up a surprising object—a corroded, 18th-century sword of Asian origin.
The sword emerged from the River Towy, “between the two river bridges where coracle fishing takes place,” Davies told Wales Online.
“I'd never seen anything like that in years of fishing, to be honest,” he told The Independent. “It was in very good condition too. I took it straight up to the museum and they said it’s a fascinating discovery.”
An investigation is still underway to determine how it reached the river and how long it had been there.
Speaking from the county museum in Abergwili Mr. Evans said: “I haven’t heard anything back from the museum yet but the sword is of Asian origin, Southeast Asia, Malaysia.”
The kris dagger has a distinctive wavy blade-patterning that can be used to identify it. It is most strongly associated with Indonesian culture, but also indigenous to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
Curator at Carmarthenshire museum Gavin Evans said he had sent photos of the rusted and well-corroded blade to a museum in London but has not had any feedback yet.
It’s likely the sword was stuck in the mud for many years, which would have helped preserve it. The blade is rusted and corroded but the sword is still largely intact. The wooden handle is ornamented with a bird made of bone.
Carmarthen is a port, which may explain how such a sword came to be in a Welsh river, but unless someone out there is keeping close information about how exactly the sword arrived in the area and why it ended up in the river, the full story of this object will remain a mystery