Balincong, or sometimes called pickaxe in English, is not just a weapon, but also a tool. Strictly speaking, this is the only weapon that is also a tool. Being an original equipment of Sundanese people in West Java, Indonesia, this weapon consist of a long shaft (like an axe), and a hammer-like head.
In general, pickaxe is made in two different proportional size. The big pickaxe shaft is about 50 cm long with increasing diameter from one end to the other, making it has two types of end, the thin end and the thick. The thin end is usually used as the handle while the thick one is tuck into a hole in the middle of the head. The two sides of the head is made in different width to accommodate different use. One end is 10 cm wide while the other is as thin as a blade. Meanwhile, the small pickaxe has a 38 cm long shaft and 6 cm long head.
Pickaxe as a Weapon
In Indonesia, Balincong is also used as a secret weapon by the farmers. They always put the pickaxe in a visible spot for emergency situation such as during the village riot, beast attack, or break-in by a thief. But, in Europe, pickaxe is used as a weapon against riot. An American Novelist, John Steinbeck described pickaxe as the weapon and used together with a shield as protection. But, the way he described it as “a long shaft weapon” indicates that the police only use the handle without the head.
The Use of Balincong
Apart from being a preventive weapon, the pickaxe also has many different functions to support people’s lives from time to time.
The hardness of the mining field makes it difficult to dig with a usual hoe. With a pickaxe, miners could easily create an impact that will destroy the mine stone into pieces. And once they tack the head of the pickaxe deep enough into the stone, they can grub up those pieces to dig a deeper hole.
Farmers usually use hoe to dig a new hole for a new plant when the land is soft enough. But, not every land is soft and not every farmer is strong. In this way, they will put the hoe apart and start to use a pickaxe. What they do is basically the same as what the miners do. By using the long end of the pickaxe, they dig and grub the land up.
To water the farmland, farmers need to create a watering system or irrigation. It is made by putting pipes in to the ground. Sometimes, they don’t even use pipes at all. A long small tunnel is all there is. And to make such a long tunnel, farmers have no tools except the pickaxe. They use the thin end of the head to make the tunnel.
The wide use of pickaxe will open its contact to humid air and water, which in turn will create rust. To stop it from happening, the maker usually use more steel and less iron to pickaxe head composition. And finally, by all these functions and properties, pickaxe, or Balincong is considered as the most functioning traditional weapon.