Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1838 Iban penyamun
Subjectpenyamun pirate / headhunting warrior
Culture: Iban / Sea Dayak
Setting: piracy, tribal warfare, Sarawak early-mid-19thc
Object: swords = duknjimpul, mandau, nyabor 


​* Steel and magic 2020 p149
​"Among the Iban, the dukn is also known as pedang.  While pedang (sabres) were originally imported and traded swords, they were locally produced in the weapon factories of Brunei during the nineteenth century.
    "The same type of weapon is also found among the Dusun people of North Borneo, where it is instead named gayang (war or headhunting sword).  The pedang is also often confused with the similar piso podang of the Batak people on Sumatra.  The Batak pommel cup, however, is almost always open and unadorned, in contrast to the closed and often engraved examples found in Borneo.  There is also a stylistic difference in their sheaths.
​   "[...]  Roth explains that the pedang's sheath is made from wood, and either coloured red crimson with dragon's blood, or covered with silverwork. According to him, the hollow cup at the top of the hilt is decorated with human hair, and the edge of the sheath is adorned with the feathers of the hornbill.  He also claims that the Malay wear it with the edge upwards, but the Dayak with the edge outwards." 

​* van Zonneveld 2001 p


* Steel and magic 2020 p146, 147
"The jimpul is a war sword of the Iban people of Northwest Borneo.  Its blade has flat sides and is curved upwards at the front.  Unlike other Iban swords, the jimpul does not have a point, but an almost square end.  The base of the blade features a fingerguard (krowit), while the handles resembles the ones found on the Kayanic parang ilang.
    "[...] The original Iban war sword was the nyabor.  Later, probably as a result of contact with the Kayan people, they changed the hilt and the fingerguard of the nyabor to that of an ilang (also known as a malat, if the blade is undecorated, or mandau among the Kayan, but not among the Iban), and developed the langgai tinggang sword.  They also adopted their version of the Kayanic parang ilang, with its characteristic concave-convex blade (making for an asymmetrical cross section).  However, this blade shape of the ilang restricted its efficient use to forehand cuts, which was probably the reason why the Iban later developed the jimpul.  Like the earlier nyabor and langgai tinggang, the jimpul could be used for slashing in all directions.  Since the Iban, unlike the Kayan, used their swords as primary weapons in battle against other kinds of swords and on-Dayak people, they needed a more versatile blade."


​* Hersey 1991 p43
"Their long history of head-hunting and skull ceremonies has not prevented the Dayak from employing their genius to produce a subtle and refined art founded in large degree on a highly developed decorative sense which marks almost everything they make and use.
  ​ "One has only to examine the famous Iban swords called mandau or parang to gain an appreciation of this sensibility. The swords are often great works of art, with beautifully fashioned steel blades, superbly made handles of bone bearing intricately interwoven human, animal, and plant forms, and subtly carved wooden sheaths, often covered with fine beadwork or inlaid with delicately carved strips of wood or bone."

* Draeger & Smith 1969 p175
"The Sea Dayak of Borneo carries the mandau, a long, single-edged bladed weapon which is similar to the machete. The mandau is a well-balanced weapon, with a blade heavy enough to ensure depth of penetration into the human target. One carefully aimed and properly executed swing can decapitate a man. The blade is functional and kept reasonably sharp. The handle of the mandau is usually tufted with human hair. Each scabbard is brightly colored with natural pigments and may also be adorned with human or animal hair and teeth laced in chain fashion on cords that drape from the external surfaces."