Dayak Headhunters Mandau Sword. Borneo

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Dayak Mandau sword dating from the early to mid 20th Century. These machete-like swords are the traditional weapon of the Dayak People of Borneo. The sword is primarily associated with the headhunting tradition of the Dayak tribes but was also used as a general-purpose jungle knife.

A characteristic of the Mandau is that the blade is convex on one side and concave on the other. The sword’s iconic grip is intricately carved and is often made of antler or bone and has tufts of pig bristle and human hair.

The 470 mm forged and tempered, single edged blade of this Mandau is of typical form. The convex side is in excellent condition with mild age tarnish and is chiselled with a scroll or wave pattern. The spine of the blade exhibits a similar cut wave pattern. The concave side of the blade is unadorned and has a double fuller beginning just forward of the ricasso and running its full length. The blade flares towards the point, being 13.5 mm wide at the ricasso and 34.7 mm at its widest. The blade has a distal taper, the spine being 7.6mm at the ricasso, tapering down to 2mm at the tip. The blade is very sharp.

The blade is held firmly inside an intricately carved antler grip, which is bound with woven rattan. The grip is further adorned with dyed pig bristle and human hair.

The Mandau is complete with its original scabbard. The scabbard is carved from wood, and bound with woven rattan. The front of the scabbard is decorated with carvings, dyed pig bristle and tufts of human hair. The scabbard is in excellent condition for its age although some of the tufts of bristle and hair are slightly loose. The back of the scabbard has another sheath attached to it and originally there would have been a small bladed, long handled skinning knife contained within it.

This is a beautifully made and detailed Dayak Mandau sword.