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Old 12th January 2019, 05:24 AM   #1
centurion
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Default Mandau for review

I got this mandau recently. It is a complete set, with pisau raut and scabbard. Scabbard for pisau raut is made from piton skin.

The handle is a horn with 2 Dutch 1/10 guldens, years 1910 and 1920, both worn at the rims as if they were long on the handle.

The blade is with an eye and some decoration and it is quite sharp, can cut a paper without a problem. Pisau raut is sharp as well.

This mandau is lighter, shorter and less thick than parang Sumba that I have.
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Old 13th January 2019, 07:08 PM   #2
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What a nice catch! I might even say a little older than 1920s, more like turn of the century. I love the intricate hilt aso carvings.

Would you please post close ups of the wonderful carving on the scabbard?
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Old 13th January 2019, 10:34 PM   #3
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Question

With fullers on both side of the blade, this is not a mandau...

Are both sides of the blade tapering towards the cutting edge alike?


Quote:
Scabbard for pisau raut is made from piton skin.

Really python?

I do get mixed feelings from this ensemble: Some parts seem to exhibit decent craftsmanship while others seem to be a bit off. I hope our resident Dayak experts will weight in...

Please also post pics of the backside (the feather is from a hornbill) and close-ups of the blade!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 14th January 2019, 01:58 AM   #4
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Here is the backside of the scabbard and close-up of the carvings.
The scabbard is varnished and it has bone decorations. Maybe it the original one, maybe not.
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Old 14th January 2019, 02:21 AM   #5
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Here are some close-ups of the blade. The blade has modest decorations.

The blade has 2 fullers from each side, which is quite unusual.
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Last edited by centurion : 14th January 2019 at 10:44 AM. Reason: Did not upload photos
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Old 14th January 2019, 09:56 AM   #6
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Sorry, I'm not convinced this is an old style mandau, and probably more recent....
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Old 14th January 2019, 10:48 AM   #7
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The reptile skin pouch is IMHO a very recent addition - that would not hold up well in a humid environment...

OTOH, the rattan belt is of very good quality and probably much older.

Probably assembled from different pieces?

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Kai
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Old 14th January 2019, 10:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
The reptile skin pouch is IMHO a very recent addition - that would not hold up well in a humid environment...

OTOH, the rattan belt is of very good quality and probably much older.

Probably assembled from different pieces?

Regards,
Kai

Yes, I agree with you Kai... Belt looks good and old!
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Old 14th January 2019, 02:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice
Sorry, I'm not convinced this is an old style mandau, and probably more recent....


My guess would be pre-1940.

I got this from Palankaraya, Central Kalimantan. I saw how the swords after WW2 look like and they are more rough than this one. 19 century ones would be more sophisticated.

Scabbard could be a reconditioned one. Blade is, however nicely balanced forward but I expected the sword to be more heavy. I have a parang Sumba and it is also forward balanced, heavier, has more thick steel forward and it looks more rudimentary.
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Old 14th January 2019, 10:04 PM   #10
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Hello Maurice, (and all others

Nice to see you on the forum.

"refurbished" is what comes to mind.

I gues that various parts where combined. oldest first imho

Blade looks very old / pre 1900 possibly
Coins are dated, but are set in very recent resin.
Carrying strap looks well made and old.
scabbard carving style and quality looks old.
Handle is well carved, maybe it is old, but maybe of later date, might be upto late 20th century and made by a carver who still had the skills.
handle wrapping is recent. same as the resin.
side knife, blade looks old, but the carving on top of the handle much more recent in style , again imho.
snake skin side scabbard. very recent and unusual material.

All together a very nice mandau. restored and completed in situ.


Best regards,
Willem
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Old 14th January 2019, 11:02 PM   #11
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I agree Willem that the pisau carving looks more recent. A replacement?

I also agree with the issue of using python skin Kai.
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Old 15th January 2019, 07:19 AM   #12
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Default Hilt details

Here are some close-ups of the hilt.

The last photo is a comparison between the blades of Sumba parang, up and mandau, bellow.
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Old 15th January 2019, 05:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
With fullers on both side of the blade, this is not a mandau...


Another mandau with fuller from Troppenmuseum:
Culture :*Dayak
Origin:*Southeast Asia: Insular*/*Indonesia*/*Kalimantan
before 1887*
approximately 67.5 x 5cm (26 9/16 x 1 15 / 16in.)*
Object number:*TM-A-2985*
Creditline:*Royal*Zo÷logisch*Genootschap Natura Artis Magistra*

Medium:*Processing of animal and human materials*
resin*
wood*
iron*
rattan*
forging ( metal forming)*
cutting*
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Old 15th January 2019, 05:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
My guess would be pre-1940.

I got this from Palankaraya, Central Kalimantan. I saw how the swords after WW2 look like and they are more rough than this one. 19 century ones would be more sophisticated.

Our experts tend to be quite conservative in their age estimates...

This one certainly presents some additional challenges.

It is great that Willem broke things down - we probably do have to discuss the parts, indeed.


Quote:
Scabbard could be a reconditioned one. Blade is, however nicely balanced forward but I expected the sword to be more heavy. I have a parang Sumba and it is also forward balanced, heavier, has more thick steel forward and it looks more rudimentary.

Most kabeala from Sunda don't come with exceptionally heavy blades but there surely are some. I'd guess that you're comparing apples to oranges here, anyway.

A dedicated thread on the kabeala would certainly be interesting...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 15th January 2019, 06:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Most kabeala from Sunda don't come with exceptionally heavy blades but there surely are some. I'd guess that you're comparing apples to oranges here, anyway.

Considering the pic of both blades, maybe more like comparing apples and pomme de terre...

The kabeala blade looks well preserved and does not seem to exhibit much distal taper while the Dayak blade tapers and probably lost quite a bit of substance to age.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 15th January 2019, 08:54 PM   #16
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Hello Willem,

Quote:
"refurbished" is what comes to mind.
<snip>
All together a very nice mandau. restored and completed in situ.

D'accord.

Quote:
I gues that various parts where combined. oldest first imho

Blade looks very old / pre 1900 possibly

The blade certainly is unusual which makes evaluation difficult. I get the impression that it is heavily worn and, thus, of decent age: The engraved decor is unusual - the somewhat rough craftsmanship may point to a local production. The decor at the tip is heavily worn which supports considerable age rather than late production IMHO.


Quote:
Coins are dated, but are set in very recent resin.
Carrying strap looks well made and old.

I posit that the belt/strap might even predate 1920/1910.

Quote:
scabbard carving style and quality looks old.

The varnish does result in an odd glossy look and appearance of more recent origin.


Quote:
Handle is well carved, maybe it is old, but maybe of later date, might be upto late 20th century and made by a carver who still had the skills.

Can the carving style be attributed to any specific region?


Quote:
handle wrapping is recent. same as the resin.

Yup.


Quote:
side knife, blade looks old, but the carving on top of the handle much more recent in style , again imho.

snake skin side scabbard. very recent and unusual material.

Also the red fabric, of course.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 15th January 2019, 10:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai

Also the red fabric, of course.

Regards,
Kai


I like the red fabric.
Really makes me think it was refurbisched for local use.
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Old 16th January 2019, 02:15 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Can the carving style be attributed to any specific region?


This should be Ngaju Kayan. Similar hilt is mentioned in the Quer Durch Borneo book as from Mahakam area, Long-Glat, located on Kayan river, photo enclosed.

The book is available on Gutenberg project in html and is easily translatable while you read, and Duch-English translation works just fine by google translate. However, the book covers the period up to 1900, and unfortunately, I have not seen a book that would cover the period between the 1900s and WW2.

Here are the links for the book html:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1738...3-h/17383-h.htm
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1737...9-h/17379-h.htm

Python skin should be a recent addition, as I saw details like these on new mandaus.
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Last edited by centurion : 16th January 2019 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 16th January 2019, 07:18 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by centurion
Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
With fullers on both side of the blade, this is not a mandau...

Another mandau with fuller from Troppenmuseum:
Culture :*Dayak
Origin:*Southeast Asia: Insular*/*Indonesia*/*Kalimantan
before 1887*
approximately 67.5 x 5cm (26 9/16 x 1 15 / 16in.)*
Object number:*TM-A-2985*

The TM example seems to be a real mandau. Also Iban mandau often show a narrow fuller like your upper one on the convex side of the blade; (right-handed) mandau have a (left) concave side and a (right) convex side - basically the blade profile is a bit shaped like a spoon. Yours has a symmetrical profile on both sides though.

There are blades basically resembling a mandau but with symmetrical profile/edge all over Borneo: in northern Borneo these would probably be referred to as gayang, in some Iban areas possibly as tilan(g) kamerau/kameran (cp. this thread for a discussion on the uncertainties!), and in the SE maybe as parang Negara. Thus, there are huge areas with pretty much undocumented terminology which may not only change from ethnic (sub)group to the next but possibly even from village to village. So it's probably best not to place too much importance on the "name game"...

Of course, there are also variant names for typical mandau blades. Arguably, these may be functionally closer while the symmetrical blades may show somewhat more diversity. OTOH, maybe the symmetrical blades are just remnants of older traditions while the asymmetrical blades could represent a somewhat younger development/fashion.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 16th January 2019, 11:54 PM   #20
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Unfortunately, catalog in Tropenmuseum has only one photo per item, so we cannot see the other side, and half of the mandaus are depicted with blades in the scabbards, and we cannot see the blades at all.
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