My Personal Parang Collection # 3 – Kelantan Parang

Kelantan is another state in Peninsular Malaysia which has some really talented parang, golok and keris makers. Below are some typical Kelantan Parang which can be found in the local shops and markets.

parang from kelantanThis parang above is my personal and favorite parang. I have been using it for at least 18 years , and it has and still served me well. I purchased it in a local market in Kelantan and I paid a reasonable price for it back then. I am usually very picky when it comes to buying something I want, and I remember spending quite a few hours looking at the various kelantan parangs available. They all differ, some are longer, some are shorter, some are heavier meant for chopping and some are lighter – meant for slaughtering or cleaning game. Somehow I liked ( and still do ) the shape , especially how the handle and the blade itself sort of “flows ” together. The steel is made of 5160 or recycled leaf springs , and it has been very very well heat treated. In all the years I have been using it, I have never ever had a rolled or a chipped edge on this particular Kelantan parang.

the roughted out parang handleOne of the first things I did after I purchased the Kelantan Parang was to roughen the handle. It was an easy job with a rough wood file and it was probably the single most valuable modification I made to the parang. The original handle had a smooth and shiny  surface, and once your hands sweat, your parang will not be secure anymore in your hand. After so many years, the handle has smoothened out abit, but there is still enough grip to be safe . You will also notice that there is no pin in the handle, and despite it’s hard use for 18 years, the parang blade has yet to loosen.

my mora and my parangAs you can see, I use this parang quite alot, and it has “evolved” to something of a mini survival kit. As you can see from the picture above, my kelantan parang has some additions, one of them is a small 3.5 inch stainless steel mora knife . I find this knife very useful for cutting food, like fish, fruits and vegetables. Having it in stainless also means that I do not have to keep polishing the edge to prevent rust. You will also see some cut up tyre tubes which I use as rubber bands to keep my lighter and mora knife in place. I also have some small bits of stainless steel wire I used to cook sausages over the fire slipped on the sheath, and a carbide sharpener. The carbide sharpener works well for a quick sharpening job in the field  . At home I use an array of sharpening stones to keep my parangs sharp.

the patina on my favourite parangHere you can see the beautiful patina on the surface of my kelantan parang blade. Initially I used to keep the edge nice and shiny, but after a few trips, I decided to leave all the tree sap and gum on it, and after so many years of doing so, it hardly rusts now. I have not oiled the parang for a very very long time and sometimes I can see only small specks of rust that will disappear with the next use. From the picture above, you can also see the rubber bands I cut from used bicycle inner tubes. The cut up inner bicycle tubes can be used as an emergency fire starter, and if you look closely at the tubes, you can see the bulge which is actually a lighter ( piezo ) .

my parang kelantan unusedThe above parang is  a more recent one I pruchased. I know I already have too many, but most of them are bought to be used, so I bought this one more for me to collect. This particular piece , I bought from a famous blacksmith called Pok Loh in Kelantan. He is recognized by Perbadanan Kraftangan ( Local Craft Development Corporation ) as a “Pandai Besi” or blacksmith . His works are pretty impressive.

kayu serian wooden sheath

What I really like about this parang is of course the shape of the blade. But not only that, but I really like the sheath as well. As you can see from above, it is also made of Serian wood, and you can see the 3-D stripes in the picture above. This sheath is also a one piece sheath , which is much much harder to make. I’ll explain and compare sheaths in another post.

the spine of the parang kelantanFrom the picture above, you can see the spine of the parang, which is pretty thin. Overall, the weight of this parang is suitable for light work only, and not that suitable for chopping wood. Will I ever use this parang? Probably , but for the time being, it’ll be a cupboard queen .

my kelantan parang and golok collectionHere is both of them next to each other. They are almost the same length but with very different in weight.It is quite obvious as well, which one is being used more often.

My personal parang collection # 4 – Small Ilang

The Small Ilang

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is another one one of my parangs, which is a small Ilang. I purchased this small Ilang from a  handicraft store, and it was a used piece. I purchased this in Miri Sarawak, and I am sure it was sold to he craft shop by one of the natives there . When I purchased this small Ilang, it was already pretty well used, and I am very sure it was not made to look used, like how some tourist prices are made. This small Ilang comes with a smaller knife, called the Penat . While the small Ilang is used for heavier tasks like chopping and slicing , the smaller Penat knife is used for cutting rattan, carving , making fire sticks and peeling fruits.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is the small Ilang, in it’s sheath. As you can see, both the small Ilang and the Penat are mounted and carried together, as this two-knife combination is able to cater for almost all cutting and chopping tasks. While the small Ilang is encased in a wooden scabbard, the sheath for the smaller Penat knife is made of flattened PVC piping. Both are held very securely by their sheaths.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere in the picture above, you can see the intricate rattan weaving on the small Ilang bolster. I really like the simple weave and use of natural materials. Just below the rattan weave, you can see a black blob if what I assume is Damar. This damar is used to glue the tang in the wooden handle. Damar is actually a resin from a type of tree ( Shorea) , sort of like unhardened ember. To make the Damar into a glue, it is heated and mixed with some other material, and one of them is ash. Besides as a glue for parangs, it is also used to caulk boats. Damar is also used to make lacquer and varnish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is another picture showing the simple rattan weaving on the small ilang sheath. The weaving not only keeps the two piece sheath together, but is also aesthetically appealing .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is how you hold the Penat knife. As you can see, the handle is long, and this long handle is held against the inner of your forearm, so you will have a much stronger and stable hold on the otherwise small knife. This is important when you are carving hard wood or preparing rattan ( meraut ) .



Another special feature that this small ilang has is the grind of the blade. I have seen many examples of chisel grinds, but this small ilang uses a convex- chisel grind , and I believe it only exists in traditional blades like this. I have not seen a convex- chisel grind on any modern knives, yet, if they do exist. As you can see from the pictures above, the top one shows the convex grind, while the lower picture shows the flat grind on the other side. I asked once why do the makers do this, and his answer was pretty straight forward and understandable – it’s easier and faster to sharpen on one side. These people use their parangs everyday, throughout the year, and sharpening  them is a daily affair , so any efforts to make things faster and easier is definitely welcomed.

I have used this small  Ilang pretty well, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. The only small issue is the handle size. It’s tiny, even fro Asian standards. It does fit my hand, and that’s because I have small hands.

My personal parang collection #2 – Golok Perak

perak golok Here are two golok Perak purchased from the Perak riverbank . I really like the clean and simple look of the Goloks. As you can see, the shape is pretty distinct, where the belly is not so pronounced as compared to a Golok made in say, Kelantan. The two Golok Perak above  have never been used , as they are pretty light and more suitable for brush cleaning and light chopping. When I venture out in the jungle, I normally carry some heavier ones for chopping. The bigger one you see above is about 11 inches long ( the blade only ) while the smaller one below it is about 8 inches. Both are made of recycled leaf spring steel, or also known as 5160 steel. I am not completely sure, but the heat treat may have been done in oil. I do notice that parangs which have been quenched in oil will be much darker in colour and have an oily surface. This is based on my own observations only and should not be taken as a guide.

perak goloks in their sheathsHere they are , sheathed in . The sheath is a 2-piece sheath and made of a very light wood. If I am not mistaken, the sheaths are made of Kapok wood.  The sheath design is simple and does not have any rattan weave like those from East Malaysia or Borneo. As you can see , in the bottom sheath, it is slightly more difficult to draw this particular golok as there is a part of the sheath which protrudes up it’s a small overlook which can be easily corrected. The handles also are very simple in design but have a very very comfortable feel to it . Below is a picture of me holding the Golok Perak in my hand. The handle is made of a denser type of wood, but I am not sure of which type.


A simple golok Kedah

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is a small golok Kedah which I found in a flea market some time ago. I consider myself pretty lucky , as I used to be quite a regular at the local flea market – Lorong Kulit – in Georgetown Penang, but I dare say I’ve not seen any good deals or anything worth buying for the past 2 years. When I saw this small golok, I knew it was going back with me. The reasonable price also made my purchase easier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see in the picture above , the Golok Kedah is pretty small. I believe it is used for small tasks like cutting meat, slaughtering game or even to be taken for a fishing trip. It feels very comfortable in the hand and is definitely to be used.

The golok kedah is pretty distinct in shape, and it is also sometimes known as “Golok Daun Buluh ” or  “Bamboo Leaf Golok” due to the blade shape. I also understand that there is a Male and female version, depending on how the bolster is made. If I am not mistaken, a Squarish bolster would make it a “Male” Golok Kedah. Mine, as you can see from the photo below, has a round bolster, so it must be a “Female” Golok Kedah.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see form the pictures, there is a bit of rust and the blade itself is slightly pitted , but that’s okay with me . The “rustic” look suits me fine . As of now I wont be using it and this one will be a cupboard queen .