Mandau with scabbard
Overall length

Sheathed 62 cm

Sword 57.8 cm

Blade length

43.5 cm

Blade width

Base 15 mm

Middle 33 mm

Widest 36.5 mm

Blade thickness

Base 6.5 mm

Middle 5 mm

Widest 3 mm

Weight without scabbard

460 grams

Point of balance

12.4 cm from hilt

Materials

Iron, deer antler, wood, rattan, animal hair, palm bark, gutta-percha.

Origin

Borneo

Dating

19th century

Price €420, -

Interested?
Anything similar for sale?

Contact me

Introduction

The term mandau literally means "headhunter". It is one of the names applied to the common sword worn by most tribes of Borneo. Characteristic features of the mandau are mainly its blade that is hollow ground on one side, and convex on the other and its distinctive deerhorn or wooden hilt with crosspiece.

For an elaborate introduction to the type of sword, see my glossary article; mandau.

 

This example

A typical example of smaller size, according to Tromp writing in 1887, many of these were produced in Kutai for the Tunjung, Bentian and Benua or "Southern Dayaks". The blade is probably of a more northern origin by virtue of the curvature in the spine. Many blades produced by the Kenyah in the highlands were purchased by Kutai workmen and made into full mandau.

It features a gently curved blade that gradually widens in profile, with a sloped tip of a style called leng or monong.The blade has the typical cross-section of a mandau, with a hollow ground left face and a convex right face. Both sides but most notable the concave side shows longtitudinal lines, signs of forge folding the iron. It has some edge damage, a few nicks seem caused by another edge.

The hilt is made of a piece of deer antler, of characteristic shape and shallowly carved, a style called so-op kombeh. The grip is wrapped with fine black braided rattan, some missing. Two tufts of animal hair project from the hilt.

The scabbard, made of two pieces of soft wood, is held together by rattan bands and fine rattan braids work, with additional decoration applied by carving. It retains its rattan carrying belt, and the těmpěsing (a scabbard for a long-handled ultility knife), but the knife and the band's toggle are missing.

 

Notes
1. S.W. Tromp; Mededeelingen omtrent mandau's. Den Haag, 1887. Published in Internationales Archiv für Ethnographie,  International Gesellschaft für Ethnographie; Rijksmuseum van Oudheden te Leiden, 1888. Volume 1, pages 22-26.
2. Ibid.

 

Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau
Dayak mandau

Do you have anything for sale?

I might be interested in buying it.

Contact me

The famous sidearm of the headhunters of Borneo.

€775,-

With less common wooden hilt and elaborately inlaid blade in brass, copper and silver.

€1200,-

Made in Borneo but traded widely, of a type used a lot against the Dutch during the Aceh Wars in…

€2000,-

An unusual cross-cultural mix, blending Burmese, Japanese and Indian parts.

€2200,-

A translucent hide shield with gilt brass ornaments. Probably Nepalese of for a Nepalese client.

€1500,-

Made of steel, decorated with fine gold overlay in a pattern of swastikas.

€2100,-