Parang or cleaver is a small sword that is mostly used as a working equipment. In Banten, there is a traditional cleaver that is used mostly by the palm trees farmer. It’s called Parang Banten. But, as a sharpened steel, this cleaver is sometimes used as defensive tools against any harm.
For the farmer, this cleaver is very useful for many things, from cutting the bush to collecting palm oil fruit. As it is known, Banten is a province with a huge number of palm oil tree. And most people do the particular job in such a farm.
The Size and the Shape of Parang Banten
From the appearance, Parang Banten is quite different from any other cleaver. It is longer, but simpler. The blade is in between 35 to 40 cm in length, while the handle is made of wood with ergonomic design. The material used for the handle is called Waru wood.
The wood is cut into two pieces. Then, they are joined together once the grip of the blade is mounted in between them. To join them better, the maker will use an iron ring on the top of the handle. This ring is what makes it look quite distinctive from any other cleaver.
The blade is made from iron and soft steel composite. The material is chosen to be soft enough to be sharpen. Yet, it has to be strong enough against the any impact.
The entire making process of Parang Banten usually needs 3 to 5 blacksmiths. One of them will hold the melting blade with a special grip. The other blacksmiths will hit the blade with hammer in turn. Once the blade is cold, they will put it back to fire for heating. After it‘s burning red, the hammer process will start again. They do it over and over until the blade finds its shape.
Not the entire blade is made thin and sharp. The hilt of the blade remains think and blunt. The reason is to make it fit the handle well. From the entire blade, only about 5 to 7 cm that is made thin and sharp.
The unique part of the making process, the material doesn’t have to be a new material. The composite of iron and steel could be found from any used object. Most of the time, the maker will use automotive parts such as shock breaker or spring. Sometimes the also use a broken saw, or anything that is made from iron-steel composite. The reason is because it is important to keep such a useful daily cleaver as cheap as possible.
Apart from being a useful equipment for the farmer, Parang Banten is also a ceremonial weapon. In a wedding ceremony, the groom will carry this cleaver in his belt. It makes a symbol of mightiness and wisdom.
This cleaver is also used in any other ceremony besides wedding. For a long time, it has been an important part of Banten men traditional outfit.