Sword “parang latok”

The sword has a very heavy, forward widening blade with a rounded tip area, which falls off to the cutting edge. The part of the blade close to the handle is rectangular in cross-section and abruptly angled backwards. The handle with the enlarged, flat pommel has a handle wrapped in brass wire. The austere form is accentuated by fine pit cuts along the back. The strong, angled blade neck shows brass inlays and incised decorative pits. The pommel with the decorative pits can be traced back to an abstracted form of makkara, which originally came from Ceylon and South India.

The parang latok is a sword form found only in north-western Borneo. It served as a weapon as well as an agricultural tool. It was also used in Brunei for executions by decapitation. The parang latok is also vouched for at the court of Brunei as a ceremonial object for judicial occasions at the court of the Sultan. There are known pompous and representative variants, which can be over 1 m long and weigh up to over 2 kg. They represent the power of the Sultan and local authorities over life and death, similar to the court swords in Europe.

Primarily the parang latok is a tool. For hard blows, the blade could be grasped with both hands, with the front hand grasping the thick blade base (“false sharpness”). In this way it is also possible to work close to the ground while squatting (e.g. for splitting wood), as the raised handle keeps the hand away from the ground. The form can probably be seen as a hybrid between the parang pandat of the Bidayuh-Dayak and Turko-Malayan swords (parang pedang). The Bidayuh also use (relatively light) parang latok as a tool, but prefer parang pandat in battle.


Object Sword “parang latok”
Culture Malaysia, Borneo Northwest, Brunei or Sarawak
Time 19th century
Dimensions Length 67 cm
Material Steel, soft metal, deer antler (sambar)
Supplementing Literature Back to room view