Badik, South Sulawesi’s Traditional Dagger

Many of the more than 300 culturally rich ethnic groups of Indonesia have their own weapons. For the badik, the traditional weapon is the dagger of the Makassar Bugis people. The process of making badik is not an easy one since there are three parts to work on: The bilah (blade), gagang (handle) and the sarung (case). The blade is the most difficult to make since sang mpu ayau (or badik artist) only begins the making process after first looking at the aura of the person commissioning the badik. In a day an artist usually does the forging process with his colleagues. By burning charcoal and using a hammer to forge the steel, he will finish those ordered by his customers. When the blade is completed, the process of casing follows. As can be imagined, this process is also not easy and takes a day or so to complete.

A popular badik artist of the Pangkep regency is Ridwan. With simple utensils, Ridwan uses murraya paniculata wood to create high quality sarung. A designed beam is smoothed over with serration, and for a final touch, the designed form is smoothed over again with stingray skin. The case and handle are finished with ornaments of copper combined with silver. It takes a day to produce such a beautiful sheath. This work of art has been passed from generation to generation in Ridwan’s family, the latter having practiced his art for the past 30 years.

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