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Old 30th September 2020, 05:16 AM   #1
JeffS
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Default Origin of this mandau?

Hello. I know mandau are tricky but hoping to narrow this one down to more than "Dayak". I've seen a few photos with similar style carving but no attribution. The blade is a nice piece of work, simple for a mandau but very well executed. The silver on the hilt seems to be a bit unusual. Battara got a good look at this one when he rescued the scabbard from complete disintegration. The plug is synthetic, likely done as a repair by a collector or dealer unless anyone has heard of Dayak using synthetic materials. Photos from Oriental Arms.
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Old 30th September 2020, 09:06 AM   #2
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Jeff, my knowledge of Dyak weaponry is slight, however using "Hornbill & Dragon" as a reference, I'd be inclined to give this mandau as Kayan.

As for Dyaks using synthetics, the old Dyak ways have been gone for a long time, even before the clearing and the palm oil plantations sent them out of the jungles, they were using modern materials to do repairs.
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Old 30th September 2020, 09:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Jeff, my knowledge of Dyak weaponry is slight, however using "Hornbill & Dragon" as a reference, I'd be inclined to give this mandau as Kayan.

As for Dyaks using synthetics, the old Dyak ways have been gone for a long time, even before the clearing and the palm oil plantations sent them out of the jungles, they were using modern materials to do repairs.


Thank you Alan! I'm looking forward to a time I am more settled down and can start hunting for books (and have a workshop). I am pretty much limited to online information sources. Not much on ethnographic weapons available as ebooks, though I did get Stone as an ebook.
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Old 30th September 2020, 09:42 PM   #4
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Actually Jeff, 50 or 60 years ago, Stone was about all we had.
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Old 1st October 2020, 10:14 AM   #5
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You can find info in the little volume "Indonesisce Schwertgriffe" (some 40 pages, mostly dedicated to mandau hilts). It s an article from "Annalen des K.K. Naturhistorischen Hofmuseum", written in Wien in 1899 by Dr Franz Steindacher.
I have found it at Aquila Natural History Books through Abebooks.
email: aquilabooks@planet.nl. Unfortunately (for me) it is written in German. But I could enjoy the good drawings ....
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Old 1st October 2020, 08:36 PM   #6
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Hello Giovanni,

I reckon you mean the paper by Wilhelm Hein (rather than Steindachner)?

That's an important source, indeed. However, there is no similar hilt included in this study.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 1st October 2020, 08:53 PM   #7
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Hello Jeff,

I'd love to see pics of any similarly carved hilts to foster the discussion here!

IMHO the hilt seems to be influenced by Malay (floral) carving styles which could also explain the unusual silver work. Maybe this piece originates from a coastal trading port, possibly somewhere in eastern Borneo? This may also be supported by the blade type. Some more pics for more details would be great!

Jose, thanks for rescueing the scabbard - does the blade fit well and is the belt traditionally attached?

Is the plug utilizing horse hair?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 1st October 2020, 09:51 PM   #8
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Hello Jeff,

More pictures would be nice. Do you own the mandau ?

Koetei / Kutai region comes in mind, based on blade and hilt combi, floral motives.

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 1st October 2020, 10:18 PM   #9
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Thank you Kai and Willem for taking an interest! Yes this is my first mandau and one that I actually have with me (I've been displaced from home for the last 6 months). Happy to take more pictures of features of interest.

I've added a couple of what I consider similar carvings. To me these look like a hunched 6 limbed figure embracing the void of the bone cavity.
A. Is my mandau purchased from Artzi
B. Is from the 2006 post by Dajak
2006 post by Dajak
C. This is a random download from Google Image Search
I've also added a better shot of the belt and a zoom of the hair plug
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Old 2nd October 2020, 12:21 AM   #10
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source
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Old 2nd October 2020, 05:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Hello Giovanni,

I reckon you mean the paper by Wilhelm Hein (rather than Steindachner)?

That's an important source, indeed. However, there is no similar hilt included in this study.

Regards,
Kai




Yes Kai, you are right. The author is Wilhelm Hein. Steindacher is the collector of articles composing the "annalen" of the museum.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 08:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
source


Nice book, Hornbill and Dragon.
There is one in the swap section
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Old 2nd October 2020, 08:49 PM   #13
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Thank you Jeff for sharing pictures of the front side scabbard and the back side of the blade.

Based on all the floral decoration and the fact that the hollow side of the blade is made by stock removal / chisseling and not forging I would place this in the Negara / Banjermasin region.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 09:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asomotif
Thank you Jeff for sharing pictures of the front side scabbard and the back side of the blade.

Based on all the floral decoration and the fact that the hollow side of the blade is made by stock removal / chisseling and not forging I would place this in the Negara / Banjermasin region.


Would that narrow down which Kayan group and period for this mandau?
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Old 2nd October 2020, 10:22 PM   #15
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I don't think you should see this as a Kayan weapon.
The floral motifs suggest a muslim background as they were/are not allowed to depict animals / humans / spirits etc.
But it is a mandau

Here is a nice map of tribes on Borneo. I believe Hornbill and Dragon contains a similar map. As you see a lot of coastal parts are marked as 'malay'.

Personally I am not that much into defining the "exact" tribe for my mandaus.
It is no exact sience by far.

As for the age, the blade and handle look like well befor 1900. The scabbard might be as well.

Again, all together a nice old piece.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 11:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Would that narrow down which Kayan group and period for this mandau

Hold your horses, Jeff!

Some more pics from all sides of the hilt would be good. Also a closeup of the carving at the upper scabbard, please.

I'd like to establish if blade, hilt, scabbard, and belt were really worn together, too...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 3rd October 2020, 12:36 AM   #17
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Hello Willem,

Quote:
Based on all the floral decoration and the fact that the hollow side of the blade is made by stock removal / chisseling and not forging I would place this in the Negara / Banjermasin region.

The Banjar/Negara melting pot did receive lots of influence from Ngaju, Malay, Bugis, "Chinese", Madura, Java, and even more foreign cultures. With Negara mandau the main influences seem to be Ngaju (as well as possibly other Dayak groups) and Malay - these tend to exhibit other hilt and scabbard styles though.

As mentioned, I believe we can agree on a strong Malay influence given the carving motifs and silver work. Aside from a most likely coastal community, I don't think this helps to narrow down the origin though.

If we look at the comparative pics provided by Jeff in post #9, the outer shape might well hint at a relationship with the Modang; of course, these hilts were also very common in Kutai, another major center of commerce. While the sultans seemed to have tried to keep the "barbarian influences" at bay, Kutai mandau seem to closely follow the Modang aesthetics rather than prominently including Malay influences.

While I can't exclude this is a one-off hilt from Kutai, it might come just as well from any other Malay settlement throughout coastal Borneo - IMHO most likely Kalimantan Timur though (based on the similar hilt profile). Jeff's hilt does not seem to be recarved from such a Modang hilt though since some details are added features. Aside from replacing the typical spirals with the extensive hollowed-out open spaces, the apparent complete lack of typical Dayak motifs like open aso jaws or leaches is really striking (cp. with the traditional examples!); these have been replaced with geometric and floral design motifs.

This extends to the floral carvings on the scabbard. Obviously, the latter has lost pretty much all accoutrements which might have helped placing it...

The rattan belt is of really good craftsmanship and its style quite typical for Kenyah/Modang/Kutai. BTW, these tend to get dry and brittle, Jeff - I'd avoid bending it (it is missing a customable cord with toggle for closing).

Also the blade (dimensions?) seems to fit well with such an origin - there seem to be a bunch of Kutai/coastal? mandau blades which have been hollowed out on the concave side, too. This example has been crafted very nicely and its features seem to fit well with eastern Borneo IMHO.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 3rd October 2020, 09:57 PM   #18
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Fascinating stuff Kai. Thank you for the warning with the belt. It remains nicely pliable but that could change. Should I use some mineral oil to keep it in shape?

Mandau Dimensions
Blade: 55cm OAL: 63.5cm Width: 0.95cm at base

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Old 5th October 2020, 09:09 AM   #19
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I've seen window putty used in lieu of the traditional resin ring.
Asomotif, thank you for this valuable information! [The map].

Last edited by Mickey the Finn : 5th October 2020 at 09:13 AM. Reason: Additional pertinent content.
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