Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


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

​Ihlang / Mandau/ Gayang

​* Blair & Blair 1988 p231
"The great headhunting tribes -- the Iban, the Kayan, the Kenya -- were the sophisticates of their race. They forged their own bronze and gold jewellery, and filigreed steel 'mandaus' -- the decapitating-swords of Borneo."

* Feest 1980 p62 f71
"The carved wooden pommel of this Dyak Malat or mandau ('headhunter') from central Kalimantan combines a stylized human figure with dog- and leech-motifs which symbolically refer to headhunting. The dog is used as a substitute for the mythic tiger to which open reference is avoided. Human and goat hair is attached to the hilt. This blade is curved and will cut only when a certain technique is employed.  [CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION: Would practical fighters tolerate such a functionally restrictive blade design?]  A small knife is always kept in a smaller sheath attached to the main one."

* Stone 1934 p433-434
"MANDAU. The Dyak sword. The name means 'head hunter,' but it is used as a jungle knife and tool as well as for head hunting. The Malay name for it is parang ihlang, and much confusion has arisen from some writers using one name for it and some the other, while some insist that they refer to different weapons.
      ​"It has a short, straight, single-edged blade of most unusual outline and section. The latter is strongly convex on one side and slightly concave on the other. The result of this is said to be that only two effective cuts can be made with it, from the right downward and from the left upward, or the reverse, depending on which side is convex. Notwithstanding this disadvantage [see CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION above] it is a very effective weapon in the hands of a man accustomed to its use, and the Dyaks are said to give blows of a power one would hardly believe possible considering the lightness of the weapon. The hilt is of solid wood or staghorn, without a guard, and with a long, one-sided pommel. The pommel is generally carved with grotesque faces or other ornaments, and is decorated with tufts of hair." ...

* van Zonneveld 2001 p88  
"The mandau is worn almost horizontally by means of a rattan girdle (blavit) to which all kinds of amulets may be attached. The blade's edge faces upwards. The girdle ends in a noose on one side. On the other side one may find a large 'knot' made of, for example, mother-of-pearl, shell, wood, deer horn, animal teeth, anggang gading or some other material, which can be held by the noose. The mandau is used by many peoples of Kalimantan and is widely spread." 


* Stone 1934 p482
"PARANG LATOK. A Dyak jungle knife, also used as a sword. It has a heavy, single-edged blade widest near the point. The blade makes an obtuse angle with a square shank on which there is a wooden handle without a guard. It is carried in a carved wood sheath that is only long enough to hold the blade proper."

* Steel and magic 2020 p153
"This awkward-looking blade is found among coastal Malays, the Melanau of Sarawak and Brunei in the Northwestern region of Borneo, and the Kendayaan of the West Kalimantan.  In the late nineteenth century it also became popular among the Bidayuh.  While its blade was often made from imported materials, the hilt was usually wooden and lightly carved with a foliate design.  Dress versions would sometimes have an ivory hilt and brass or silver ferrules.
    "[...]  Like most longer blades from Borneo, the parang latok served both as an agricultural tool and a weapon.  When used for peaceful purposes, like chopping wood, it was grasped at the bend, and not at the handle.  For war, however, the full length of the blade was utilised, resulting in a severe wound from a draw cut.  The parang latok was also used by the local police officers in Sarawak for decapitations.  According to Boyle, the type started to become unfashionable as a weapon in the mid-nineteenth century as a result of the import of cheaper European blades."

* van Zonneveld 2001 p98-99
A sword, used as a machete. Its heavy blade shows a bend near the hilt. The part between the hilt and the bend is usually rectangular in cross-section, but polygonal or rounded shapes also occur. The blade broadens towards the point, whereby the back at the tip curves towards the edge. The blade's back is thick causing the blade to be wedge-shaped in cross-section.
    ​"The entire hilt is round in cross-section, and broadens towards the top to a knob, flattened on both sides. This knob, usually made of wood, has cross grooves. the hilt's round part is often strengthened with a cord or plaited rattan, sometimes with silver rings or a silver sleeve.
    "The scabbard covers only the blade's lowest part, reaching the bend. The parang is used two-handedly, whereby one hand holds the hilt and the other the blade's shoulder, in order to strike downwards." ...

​Pakayun / Parapat

* Steel and magic 2020 p156, 157
"The parapat is a unique war sword of the Murut (a colonial term still used for the Lun Bawang and other related peoples living in Northwest Borneo). [...]
    "The parapat is more seldomly seen seen than the gayang (featuring a flat blade) and ilang (featuring a concave/convex cross section of the blade) sword present in historic pictures of Murut warriors.  Due to the ethnographer Shelford's misunderstanding of the language, it is now commonly known among Western collectors as a 'pakayun.'  Pakayun means 'what I wear' in Malay and is not a Murut term at all."

* Stone 1934 p479
"PAKAYUN.  A Murut, Borneo, sabre with a light curved blade and a curious forked wooden pommel."

​* van Zonneveld 2001 p


* Steel and magic 2020 p150, 151
​"[P]arang pandat [was] the distinctive sword of the Bidayuh Dayak.  The point of the blade is its widest part.  The blade is long and widens toward the bifurcated tip.  It also has as a strong back, a flat profile, and a wedge-shaped cross section.  The blade was forged in one piece along with the 'handle,' which consists merely of a rectangular steel bar.  In times of war, the grip was probably bound with red cloth, a practice still followed today by the Bidayuh when they use the pandat in ritual war dances.  The strap that is sometimes found on kampilan hilts and other Filipino swords may be connected to this custom.
    "[....]  Longer pandat blades ... are associated with the Si'din, and shorter blades with the Bennah Dayak.  It is believed that, in contrast to the buko and malat, the pandat was used only for warfare.  It seems that the steel hilt was wrapped with red fabric before a campaign.  Textiles evoke a symbolism closely connected with head hunt and the redirection of vital force gained by head hunting.  The term pandat is likely derived from pandit (Hindu priest), which might also be related to the word pande (skilful, able, knowing)."