Mandau

Mandau

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E-90-1-MANDAUITS–The Mandau is the traditional weapon of the Dayak people who live in Borneo. Formerly, it was made of selected rock taken from mountain which contains iron. Today, the weapon has gradually lost its sacred quality and people make them of metal. The sword’s blade is beautifully adorned with carvings while its handle, made of horn or hardwood, is adorned with human hair or bird’s feathers.

In the past, the Dayak used the sword for head hunting, then a common practice. They then took their victim’s hair and adorned the sword’s handle with it. They believed the more heads were cut off with the sword, the more mystical power the sword would have.

After a succesful head hunting, the Dayak did not only take their victim’s hair, but also marked their bodies with tattoos. Thus, the more tattoos their bodies had, the more heads they had cut off. Their social status was, as a result of these trophies, elevated.

Aside from its use in head hunting, the Mandau was formerly used during special customary ceremonies. Today, the weapon has lost its sacred meaning. It is now used for daily works in the paddy fields, for cutting trees, etc.

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