West Borneo Mandau
Traditional Weapon

West Borneo Mandau, a Legacy of West Borneo

West Borneo MandauWest Borneo Mandau is a traditional sword from West Borneo. But, unlike other weapons which is used by one person, this sword is used from one generation to the other. It’s a legacy every son in West Borneo must have.

West Borneo Mandau – The Tradition

The handover proses from one person to his son happens once the son gets married. The purpose of this legacy is to give the son a proper preparation to face his independent adulthood. As this tradition is highly respected, almost every Mandau we find in West Borneo has hundreds years of age.

By this tradition, we can conclude that this kind of sword is not made only for self-defense. It has value in it along with a unique engrave that is different from one to another. But, accepting this legacy means a lot of responsibility. Whoever accepts it from his parents must keep it. He can’t lose it as it already become a symbol of his family and his pride. By the time come, one has to give it to his son.

Because of the heritage, this sword is considered powered by magic. The spirit is believed to be planted in a hair that is attached on the grip. Besides, the grip itself is made of horn while the sheath is made of some a traditional fabric of West Borneo. Those combination of material makes it even more sacred.

The Making Process

West Borneo Mandau is made by of melted iron that is forged until it becomes very thin. It has one sharpened side with a pointy end. The 10 cm blade is sharpened really well so that it can cut a beast to death only in one swing.

In the older days, this sword is made by combining mountain stone with iron. It got really strong with composite. But, since now this sword is also a symbolic sword, making it well functioning is just not enough. So the maker usually add some gold, silver, or copper to make it look better. However, that kind of sword will only be in a possession of people with high position and high respect.

The entire making process will take a considerably amount of time. Even for combining the material such as gold and iron, or with silver, they need 1-2 months. The reason behind it is to make those metals well-blended. The maker also prays on it so that it will have a magic power.

The Ornament

The grip of the sword is made of deer horn. But, the horn itself has to be in a shape of any kind animal requested by the user. It could be a tiger, lion, or any other animal that represents the family’s philosophy.

The sheath of this sword is called Kumpang. It is made by putting 2 pieces of wood together in a way so it has space in the middle. Once it’s done, an animal bone in a shape of bracelet is attached to one end. In that way the bracelet will keep the two pieces of wood connected to each other as a sheath. A typical fabric from West Borneo will then be tied around the sheath. That typical fabric makes it distinctive from Mandau from other part of Borneo.

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