An Apo Kayan presentation mandau
Mandau or locally named “Parang Ilang’ swords were used for headhunting, but also as machete in the jungle.
The mandau swords vary in style and materials.
Given as a present to a Dutch K.N.I.L. officer and brought to his retirement home in Bronbeek Arnhem. Likely never used in battle, but made for him. The decoration is typical for the Apo Kayan, a small tribe within the Kenyah tribes in central Borneo. The blade is typical for a ‘Parang Ilang’ convex on the right and flat on the left side. Thick heavy and razor sharp blade is in excellent condition and has a protrusion on the beginning of the blade.
The large deer antler hilt is well carved depicting leeches and decorated with tufts of hair. The hilt is wrapped in fine rattan windings an has a typical black resin covered end known as ‘damar’.
Typical for the Apo Kayan is the decoration on the scabbard, which consists of two wooden sheets held together by rattan bands. The small cut and dyed hairtufts are applied with resin. The front side has finely carved Dayak tribal motifs and has a small band of micro beads in yellow, black and red colours. The end of the scabbard is decorated with an application carved out of bone with similar decoration as the hilt. On the back of the scabbard is a rattan sling attached to hang the sword around the waist.
A beautifull example with rich decoration and of outstanding quality. Made to be used, not for tourism, but presented to an officer. It can be dated first half of the 20th century, likely circa 1930.
Condition: Very good, some minor repair on the scabbard, further excellent.
Provenance: Bronbeek Arnhem, Royal retirement home for soldiers of the Royal Colonial Netherlands Indian Army. In Dutch: Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger (KNIL). Brought back to the Netherlands in 1938.
Literature: A.G van Zonneveld ‘Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago” pg. 87-88.
Blade length: 53cm
Blade spine thickness: 8mm
Total length: 78cm
Copyright by Peter Andeweg – 2020
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