Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1940 Land Dayak panjamon
Subjectpanjamon warrior
Culture: Land Dayak
Setting: tribal warfare, Kalimantan 19-20thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Spruit 1995 p132-133
"There was much rivalry between the various [Dyak] tribes which led to endless struggles and wars, during which the taking of conquered enemies' heads was common practice. Human heads also had an important ceremonial value, for instance for a warrior's wedding ceremony."

* Tagliocozzo 2005 p119-120
"[I]n British Borneo, ... conditions of chronic violence were commonplace in the 1860s and 1870s.  James Warren and Ulla Wagner have shown how various Bornean peoples acted and reacted within a radically changing forest landscape, as economic trade routes, interethnic rivalry for resources, and the expanding reach of colonial states combined to form a heightened landscape of competition in Borneo.  Culturally contested complexes around head-hunting and the protection of economically valuable resources such as birds' nests caves lay behind much of the shifting violence of the period, argue these two scholars.  Low-level systemic violence could also be seen in other dimensions, however.  Kidnapping and the 'robbing of men' from their environs was one of these forms, as the slaving practices of various indigenous groups came under sharp attack by colonial authorities in the region.  Outright robbery and murder of traders laden down with commercial goods on the rivers of Borneo were other common occurrences, especially among Chinese merchants who were relatively powerless in the interior when faced with the threat of force.  When the governor of Labuan was able to compel the sultan of Brunei to execute one of the worse perpetrators of this sort of crime against Chinese traders in 1871, it was the first time in over a century that one of the sultans there had agreed to such a punishment, for the 'mere crime' of killing a few innocent Chinese.  The archives are littered with instances of violence of this sort against Chinese traders, three heads taken here, four there, in various parts of British Borneo."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Kenyah shield (1907.75.19)
"Like many peoples of Assam, Borneo, the Philippines, and Oceania, the Kenyah historically practised head-hunting raids. Raiding was their principal form of warfare, performed typically to seek revenge upon other groups for past raids, thefts and insults. However, heads were also required for the proper completion of lengthy burial rites, particularly so that mourning taboos could be lifted. As the benevolence of ancestors determined agricultural fertility and successful harvests, as well as the personal health of their descendants, so head-hunting was considered a vital part of a man's social responsibility. In turn, the fulfilment of that social responsibility determined his prestige, and the health and nourishment of his family."


* Early Chinese art and the Pacific basin 1968 p86  
"War caps plaited from thick rattan withes were part of the elaborate regalia worn by a Kayan warrior during raids to secure human heads and slaves.  If successful, the returning warrior was permitted to add two barred tail-feathers from the hornbill bird to his cap."

Swords (Ihlang, Latok, Pandat, Parapat)

* Richter 1993 p26
"Parang ... are cutlasses.  The Dyaks of inland Kalimantan are highly respected swordsmiths.  Their finest parang are used ceremonially, but the plainer ones serve a variety of practical domestic purposes such as slaughtering animals, slashing vegetation and splitting coconuts in half with a single blow.  Earlier this century, parang ilang or mandau were used for head-hunting.  The individual qualities and histories of parang, like those of krises, are the subject of legend and song:
This sword is made of poisonous steel
The treasure of the past
Honoured by blood many times
By fighting wildly it became famous.
Carried along rivers,
Never abandoned, morning or evening.
Body protection everywhere."


* Benitez/Barbier 2000 p150
"This type of shield, known as klau or kliau, consists of a thin, lightweight wooden plank reinforced by four horizontal bands of bound rattan.  The obverse is always adorned with a complicated curvilinear decoration, the central element of whch is the head of a monster, perhaps derived from the Indian kala that possesses the same large circular eyes and mouth bristling with fangs.  This monster, named udo(q) or kambe according to Bernard Sellato, is invested with the power to ward off evil spirits. [...]
    ​"The relatively common Kenyah-Kayan shields of this kind only come from the large semicircular territory either side of the Mahakam River.  On the other hand, the oval basketry, bark or wooden shields of the Iban (formerly known as the Sea Dayak) and the painted shields made by the Bidayu or the Murut, ... are far less widely known."

* Hersey 1991 p44
"Painted and finely decorated shields were carried by Kenyah men when going into battle.  In addition to the physical protection the shield provided, it was vested with magic.  The front side of the shield usually bore a large anthropomorphic head combining human and aso attributes, while the back displayed one or two splayed human figures with tendrils growing out of their heads to represent spirit figures.  The front was also sometimes decorated with human hair from the heads of enemies slain in former battles."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Kenyah shield (1907.75.19)
"The outer face of these shields bears the terrifying tusked features of a demonic creature similar to a Javanese Hindu rakshasa, ornamented with fringes of human hair taken from previous victims - all intended to terrify the opponent. The inside, however, generally depicts a pair of smiling, benevolent figures, representing the warrior's family and ancestors - those who gave him courage and who benefited from his acts of bravery. Consequently, head-hunting was viewed as a noble and pious activity, and the taken heads were viewed as the material evidence of a man's character and worth. Because of this, the heads were dried and kept in racks, each was known and addressed personally by name, and all were treated with great care and respect."

* Stone 1934 p363
"KLIAU, KLAU. The commonest and most typical Dyak shield.  It is carved, handle and all, from a single piece of wood three or four feet long and eighteen to twenty inches wide. The ends are pointed and the shield curves in both directions with a ridge down the center. It is usually laced across the ends to prevent its splitting. The decoration is sometimes confined to staining the ends and borders, at others the whole surface is painted with grotesque or geometrical figures. With some tribes it is almost covered with tufts of human hair."

* Feest 1980 p86 f98
"The outside of many Dayak shields is painted with one or more demons' heads, a design which possibly derives from Chinese dragon- or tiger-shields. Human hair surrounds the fearsome faces. The inside may be decorated with similar motifs or with a pair of smiling anthropomorphic figures."

* Geary ed. 2006 p42 
"In the past, warriors of the Kenyah, Kayan, and neighboring peoples of Borneo used shields ... for protection and intimidation in warfare.  Their bold designs were intended to ward off human enemies and ever-present evil spirits. ....  Many shields originally incorporated layers of attached human or horse hair.  Today, men display the shields during ceremonies such as a wedding or the naming of a child."




* van Zonneveld 2001 p131-133
The sumpitan is a blow-pipe made of a single piece of hardwood, preferably of the niagang-tree which has a straight grain and hardly any knots. ...
​    "To the tip a spear-point is attached which is tied to the exterior using rattan. This tip is almost always made of iron, but sometimes a tip made of ironwood (Eusideroylon zwageri, Fam. Lauraceae) occurs. In the binding, opposite the spear tip, we often find a wooden, bone or metal 'foresight (klahulon) in order to aim better. Using resin, a cowrie shell is sometimes attached to the shaft serving as a foresight. The mouth-piece may have a horn ring or a ring of resin (damar). The sumpitan is used to fire darts at birds and small game, but also in combat.
​    "The sumpitan comes with blow-darts (langa), a quiver (tolor or tavang) and a small gourd (hung) in which are stored the small cones of the pith of a tree or of a certain species of thorny creepers which are attached to the back of the darts. These serve to close the bored holes so that the darts can be blown out forcefully. Furthermore, instruments are used to prepare the poison (ipoh) and to apply it to the tips of the darts. There we find a small instrument to mould the cones into the correct size making them fit exactly into the bored hole of the sumpitan.
​    "The darts have a range of c.35-54 m, but for a direct hit the range is c.20-25 m. When leaving the blow-pipe, the darts allegedly have a speed of 180 km per hour. The sumpitan is also known as sumpit (Iban), leput (Kayan), sipet (Ngaju) and put (Punan)."

* Feest 1980 p70
"As an implement of war it [the blowgun] is limited to Kalimantan and some other areas of the Indonesian archipelago, and is always the same type: a plain hardwood pole, bored and regularly fitted with an iron bayonet and sometimes a sight. The tiny darts, with only breath to propel them, would cause little harm to man were they not tipped with one of several poisons such as ipoh or siren. Even so, their use in war declined during the centuries of European contact."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Sumpitan (1884.18.4)
"The sumpitan is a blowpipe from Borneo. It can be up to 2 metres in length. It is made from a single piece of hard wood that is bored into a tube using an iron rod. The inside wall of the borehole is smoothed by drawing rattan back and forth through the tube. Finally, the exterior is rubbed down and a metal spearhead is bound onto the end so that it can also be used as a spear. ... [A] small copper or iron strip is often lashed to the muzzle, which is curled into a foresight in order to aim better.
    "The sumpitan is used with lightweight poisoned darts to hunt birds and small game but have been known to have been used in combat. The darts can achieve a direct hit at around 20-25 metres and the darts allegedly leave the blowpipe at a speed of 180km (over 110 miles) an hour."


​* Tagliacozzo 2005 p292
"The resident of Sumatra's East Coast complained to the Dutch governor-general that Enfields and other modern firearms could be had at 'spot-prices' in Singapore by local peoples, which certainly seems to have been true, as these rifles were turning up all over Southeast Asia at the time, even in interior Borneo. The advanced Beaumont rifles being handed out to crew members aboard Dutch blockade ships off Aceh in the 1870s were also appearing, however, in enemy hands, the barrels modified to fit local needs, as Dutch Patrols found out. American Winchesters were also being used against the two colonial regimes by indigenous populations as well, in Aceh and the Batak highlands in Sumatra, but also by Bugis crews coasting between Singapore and Sulawesi. Even German Mausers were available in the region, as witnessed by the seizure of 500 of these guns and 500,000 Mauser cartridges that had left Singapore for Luzon in early 1899."