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Early 20th C. Dayak Mandau Steel Sword w/ Bone Handle

Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Borneo, Central Kalimantan, Dayak peoples, ca. early to mid-20th century CE. A beautiful Mandau headhunter's sword. The handle is formed from duyong bone and is intricately carved in an abstract zoomorphic style, and the bottom is wrapped in a thick thread made from woven reeds. The scabbard is hand-carved from a lightweight, red-brown wood, has tightly-woven sections of rattan bands around the top, middle, and bottom areas, and bears carved zoomorphic and geometric motifs on the obverse side. A small wooden Pisau knife handle bears a finely-carved handle but is missing the original blade. The sword blade is stainless steel with a thick, curved spine, a sharpened edge along the straight side, minute serrations along the neck and lower spine, and is inlaid with small copper circles along one side. A lovely example of a unique weapon typology! Size: 19.25" L x 1.625" W (48.9 cm x 4.1 cm); length of blade: 12.9" L (32.8 cm).

Condition: Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, small nicks to sheath and bone handle, with some small losses to bottom of sheath, and light tarnishing to stainless steel blade. Nice earthen deposits throughout.

Provenance: private Chico, California, USA collection

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