Monday, November 4, 2013

Mandau : A powerfull weapon of Dayak

Mandau is one of weapon of the Dayak tribe where it is one of sacred heritage and it is considered as a sacred item because it has unbelievable power. Moreover, Mandau is also a tool to cut down the trees and other things. Because of the daily life of Dayak tribe is almost done in the forest, so they always bring Mandau in their waist wherever they go. Dayak tribe is one of adventurer tribe and they love it. A Dayak son wherever they go, they always bring Mandau to keep him safe.

Borneo is one of five big islands in Indonesia. Borneo is the origin place of Dayak tribe. Between Dayak people itself, they grow and develop their own culture. In the other word, the cultures that grow and developed by Dayak-Iban isn't same with Dayak-punan and so on. However, they have and use Mandau although they don't come from the same culture. In the daily life, Mandau can't ever be separated from the owner because it has moral functions like honor and identity.

Mandau is believed has levels of magical power. The power of mandau isn't only gained from its making process which need specific rituals, but also it's gained from "Pengayauan" (term of decapitation of opponents). The more he gets opponent's heads, Mandau will become stronger. Some hairs which are gained, used as an ornament of mandau's handle. They believe that the spirits of the dead man will be placed in that Mandau, so Mandau becomes more powerful.
Ornament of Mandau

Mandau made from iron plate, which is made into flat and long shapes and with sharp edges. One of the blade side is sharpened become sharper and on the other side is blunt. Several kinds of materials that is used to make Mandau such as : montallat iron and matikei iron and also iron steel that is taken from some part of the car. According to the story of Dayak, the best quality of Mandau is made from mount stones that is smelted specifically so the iron is very strong and sharp and the ornament made from a little of gold, silver, or copper. This mandau is only made and used by certain people. 

Meanwhile, the end of Mandau's handle made from deer's horn, which is carved like a bird's head. The handle is carved with various motifs like dragon's head, bird's beak, and many more.  Sometimes, at the end of handle use animal feather or human hair. The shape and carving on the mandau's handle can distinguish the origin place of Mandau made, the tribe, also social status of its owner.

Mandau's sarong or usually called as "Kumpang" made from thin wood. At the top part is coated by bone ornaments in bracelet shape. In the middle and bottom parts are also covered by rattan wicker as a brace. As an ornament, usually used feather of baliang bird, tanyaku bird, beads, and sometimes use talisman. In addition, Mandau also completed by a small knife, placed in sarong made from leather that is tied and attached at the sarong side and belt made of rattan wicker.

When we observe it carefully, in the making process of Mandau contains values and it can be a reference in daily life for peoples life. The values are  beauty (art), diligence, accuracy, and patience. The value of beauty is reflected from the forms of mandau, so it exudes the beauty of mandau. The values of diligence, accuracy, and patience is reflected from the making process which need diligence, accuracy, and patience. Without those values, a beautiful Mandau and full of meanings won't ever be created.


  1. Dear Mr. Wahyu,

    Please advise if it's possible to purchase the Hi-Res Photo of the Mandau posted on your blog?

    If possible, please contact me at to inform me regarding the details.

    Thank you.

  2. Sory I don't have the hi-resolution photo. I took it from google image...


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