The Dayak live in Borneo and are divided in various ethnic groups: the Penan, Klemantan, Kenyah, Kayan, Murut and Iban people. The Iban, known as Sea Dayak and famous as pirates, were converted to Islam by the Malays and were probably the latest of the Dayak to arrive in Borneo. The other Dayak groups, especially the Kayan and Penan, have maintained their ancient customs, habits, and religious beliefs. The Dayak practice of headhunting, rooted for the most part in religious beliefs, has now disappeared. The Iban, formerly the most notorious of the headhunters, have given up the custom more quickly than the other tribes, probably because, living on the coast, they are in more direct contact with other cultures.

Like the Keris, the Dayak Parang, is believed to have supernatural power and is transmitted from generation to generation. Good quality blades are made of iron which does not oxidize. Also like the Keris, meteorite ore including titanium, was used to make blades. 

Inland Dayak weapons :

  Parang Ilang or Mandau (which means "double knife" because it has 2 blades: the main sword and a small knife fitted in the back of the sheath). 

Parang Pandat, is the war Parang of the Land-Dayaks. It has an elongated angled blade with a cross guard.

Parang Latok, is used by the Land-Dayaks and has an angled blade like the Pandat


Sea Dayak Parang are different from the Parang Ilang: they have a curved blade and a hook (krowit) on the blade near the hilt, which serves as a finger guard. They can be divided in four different types:

Niabor, with a curved blade, the edge curves towards the back to the tip. Just below the hilt, on the edge, is a large krowit (also called kundieng). The blade is not decorated and may have a groove and the hilt has a long angled protrusion and no hair.

Langgai Tinggang, which means "the longest tail feather of the hornbill.", similar to the Niabor, but with the hilt similar to the Parang Ilang. A groove runs along the blade from the krowit to the tip. The krowit is not as protruding as on the Naibor and is further from the hilt.

Jimpul, similar to the Langgai Tinggang, but the krowit is only developed on one side and the tip of the blade is in a slanting angle.

The Murut from Northern Borneo have their own special parang:

Pakayun, has a curved blade of even width without decoration. The wooden hilt terminates in a forked shape and sometime has carvings in-between the fork. It is also mounted with a copper ferrule and a copper cylinder guard. 


Synoptic of Dayak Parang, according to Shelford

Blade Type Tribe
Single edged, sides not flat, truncated point Parang Ilang Kayan, Kenyah, Kajaman, Kanowit, Kelabit, Punan
Double edged Bayu Sea-Dayak
Single edged without truncated point, no finger guard Parang Pedang Malay, Melanau
Single edged without truncated point, prominent finger guard Niabor Sea-Dayak
Single edged without truncated point, finger guard not prominent Langgai Tinggang Sea-Dayak
Single edged with truncated point, long and narrow  Pakayun Murut
Single edged with truncated point, broad  Jimpul Sea-Dayak
Angled, largest width <5cm Latok Malay, Melanau
Angled, largest width >5cm Buko Land-Dayak
Angled, no hilt Pandat Land-Dayak

More about : head hunting and forging a mandau

See Dayak Parang collection

Niabor, Lannggai Tinggang, Jimpul, Pakayun, Parang Pandat pictures courtesy of Ben Medze

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OLD BLADES - Malay World Edged Weapons.  Copyright 2000 - 2007
Revised: 2007-05-20