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Old 25th December 2020, 05:53 PM   #1
CharlesS
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Default A Few Interesting Indonesian Blades

I recently acquired these attractive and elegant pieces. Included are a Murut pakayun/parapat, a common style of parang, and an exotic dagger from Sumbawa.
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Old 25th December 2020, 11:20 PM   #2
kai
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Hello Charles,

Seems like you convinced Santa!

Congrats, that's another well-above-average pedang for your collection!

The Sumbawa knife is a really great example - I also wanted to bid on it...

It certainly makes sense to drop the name pakayun which was another error by not well-informed outsiders. Murut is a name attached in colonial times for several ethnic groups (the Lun Bawang possibly being known best); it should be dropped since it seems to be widely regarded as offensive.

Can you tell whether the parts of this piece (especially those of its scabbard) are from different periods? What animal is the white hair from?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 25th December 2020, 11:53 PM   #3
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Kai,
Regarding the parapat, I think all the hair, side scabbard, and shoulder baldric are later to the sword, though certainly not new or recent. The hair is very coarse. I would not be surprised if it was last in the hands of the Dayak to the south, though I am learning that the side knife on a parapat is not so terribly unusual.
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Old 27th December 2020, 01:49 AM   #4
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Merry Ho Ho!

Nice toys under that tree!

On the parapat I wonder if there was hair originally on the ends, like in some Kutai hilts.
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Old 27th December 2020, 11:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
On the parapat I wonder if there was hair originally on the ends, like in some Kutai hilts.



Hi Jose,

At the ends of the forked hilt, they didn't attach hair. They worn the sword like showed on the photo. 'naked'.
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Old 27th December 2020, 11:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
They worn the sword like showed on the photo. 'naked'.


A 'naked' hilt, not a 'naked' Murut ofcourse.....
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Old 27th December 2020, 12:14 PM   #7
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Cool

Glad you clarified that one, Maurice...

Jose, Kutai & Modang are quite different cultures. You'll note that the tip of the branch is carved conically to help in attaching (and arranging) the short hair decorating these tips (a bit like a brush). This won't work with the carving of most parapat/perepet prongs.

Since the prongs are pointing upwards, long hair would be quite awkward. There is a single example with long hair in our archives (in an example with missing prongs); I'd tend to believe that this was the result of an ill-informed restoration attempt though.

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Kai
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Old 27th December 2020, 12:33 PM   #8
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Hello Charles,

Thanks for the additional information!


Quote:
Regarding the parapat, I think all the hair, side scabbard, and shoulder baldric are later to the sword, though certainly not new or recent.

Sure, fittings tend to be younger (or even missing). This one has features that might be slightly off though.

Certainly a really nice sword, anyway!


Quote:
The hair is very coarse. I would not be surprised if it was last in the hands of the Dayak to the south, though I am learning that the side knife on a parapat is not so terribly unusual.

Yes, side knives are known - pretty rare though.

Those which I saw resembled those on mandau in length; this seems to be exceptionally long! How does it affect wearing the sword when you hold it to your hip?

The uppermost metal band seems to be from brass? Are the others crafted from soft iron?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 28th December 2020, 01:02 PM   #9
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How does it affect wearing the sword when you hold it to your hip?

Kai,

This sword was not carried in the traditional manner, at the waist, but by a shoulder sling or baldric visible in a couple of the pics.

All the bands are brass.
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Old 28th December 2020, 02:38 PM   #10
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Thanks, Charles!

Quote:
This sword was not carried in the traditional manner, at the waist, but by a shoulder sling or baldric visible in a couple of the pics.

I don't think so: One doesn't need a closing system for any shoulder sling - the typical button/loop arrangement suggests a belt function similar to what is traditional for mandau...

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Kai
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Old 28th December 2020, 11:22 PM   #11
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The white hair, I'd say, is from a goat; seems to be the most likely suspect. Similar hair decorates a newly manufactured mandau I've got in the closet. I was thinking of replacing it (the goat hair) with some blonde (human) hair extensions.
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Old 29th December 2020, 03:56 PM   #12
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Hello Mickey,

Check the close-up: This hair is very coarse - closer to bristles than soft hair; goat hair is considerably finer.

BTW, you may want to post your mandau in a separate thread for comments before embarking on any upgrade attempts. Human hair on any mandau shouldn't be blonde; goat hair is commonly utilized for short decor, especially on some scabbard types.

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Kai
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Old 29th December 2020, 08:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey the Finn
The white hair, I'd say, is from a goat; seems to be the most likely suspect. Similar hair decorates a newly manufactured mandau I've got in the closet. I was thinking of replacing it (the goat hair) with some blonde (human) hair extensions.



'Dyed' (goat)hair was also used on old swords (even before 19th century) with the dayak tribes in Sarawak. The tufts of hair looks like the tufts on Charles's parapat.
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Old 30th December 2020, 11:21 AM   #14
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The elegant Parang looks to have a Western made blade, with the tip reground to the local style. Any marks or stamps on the ricasso ?
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Old 30th December 2020, 01:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R
The elegant Parang looks to have a Western made blade, with the tip reground to the local style. Any marks or stamps on the ricasso ?


Hello David,

I doubt! The blade is typical for a pedang blade and will be laminated, I guess that Charles will confirm my guess.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 30th December 2020, 01:24 PM   #16
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Hello Charles,

I special like the Sumbawa knife, such a knife is already long on my wish list!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 30th December 2020, 01:30 PM   #17
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My eye was caught by this detail, a very typical western feature. No big deal, but I have not seen the same on eastern made blades, and trade blades are seen everywhere, and nothing wrong with them.
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Old 3rd January 2021, 12:43 PM   #18
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Thanks for your insights and comments guys.

The blade of the parang is not laminated.
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Old 11th January 2021, 10:17 AM   #19
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Default To: kai

Hello kai.
I did view the closeups. To be honest, my first thought was, "It's hair from a pig". Much of the hair seen in the photos looks too long to be from a pig, although it's possible I'm mistaken. The thought even crossed my mind that it might be horsehair (whether from mane, tail, or body proper I couldn't say without examining this pakayun up close and in person). In light of the fact that the pakayun was likely crafted somewhere within the "dunia/ alam Melayu", I second-guessed myself, because the pig is haram. I arrived at my conclusion by a perhaps overly simplistic process of elimination.
1) Irrespective of which side of the arbitrary border the pakayun was crafted on, both countries (Indonesia and Malaysia) are predominantly Moslem nations, and pigs are probably not too commonly kept for any purpose. The goat, on the other hand, is a halal animal, and a common food source for Moslems. Not all of the hair on a goat is fine and soft.
2) Nowadays, motorcycles/ mopeds/ "dirtbikes" have largely supplanted the horse as a means of transportation, and I don't believe horses have ever been kept as a source of meat or milk in the Malay world. Where I live, horses are kept by two kinds of people: 1) those who use horses as working animals (mostly in association with cattle farming, or as pack animals), and 2) the "leisure class", who ride only for pleasure.
I think it's about as unlikely that the hair is from a horse as from a pig.
I am aware of at least one individual living in Malaysia, who is of Dayak ancestry, and who is at least nominally a Protestant Christian. This individual has, in the past, crafted more than one mandau. None of the examples of his work which I have seen have been decorated with hair of any kind. I don't know much about the current religious affiliation of people of Dayak ancestry. It's possible that some Dayaks may have decorated their weapons with pig hair in the past, and it's possible some may currently do so.
To summarize: I still say it's goat hair on this pakayun scabbard, and on my mandau scabbard. Pics of my mandau scabbard will likely not be posted any time soon, however, because I'm lazy.
Quote:
Human hair on any mandau shouldn't be blonde; goat hair is commonly utilized for short decor, especially on some scabbard types.

I'll grant that the hair of most people likely to have been cut off to decorate a klebit bok, a mandau, or other Dayak weapon is probably not going to be blonde, but most likely very dark. Having given the matter some thought, for various reasons, I'm not going to say anything more about the matter, with the exception of my closing sentence:
Just for the record, I'll state: I would never alter any antique by adding hair of any kind to it.
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Old 12th January 2021, 02:13 PM   #20
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Just some photos to show that white (goat) hair was used in times when headhunting was still lurking.
The ones on the photos are collected by Carl Bock and Charles Hose.

In the Kantuk area (not the ones depicted here) they often use large tufts of white hair, also on scabbards for decoration.
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Old 12th January 2021, 09:55 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
The blade of the parang is not laminated.


So I prooved wrong by my guess!
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Old 13th January 2021, 12:19 PM   #22
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That reverse grind on the tip was deceptive, If I had not noticed the ricasso I would have agreed with you.
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