The Parang Panjai or to some the parang Panjang.
This parang panjai was another sample given by my supplier, and before i ordered more, I tested this one out pretty extensively. Parang panjang basically means long parang, and this one is made of recycled leaf srpings. I would have to say that it excels as a general all round tool, although it is on the long side. I used it on quite a variety of trees, from bamboo, to grass to limbing branches and chopping small trees ,and it did all pretty well. Although the parang panjai is pretty long, it is not that heavy as the spine is pretty thin and the blade itself is narrow. But while it lacks in weight, it actually a very good chopper as it gets it’s power from the length. Just how like a beliung works, where the long handle makes up for the small and light axe head .
Here from the photo above you can see the handle of the parang panjai . When I first saw the bolster, I cringed and informed my supplier, please do not send me any with a rubber hose bolster! Usually the bolster is made of rattan , copper or steel , but this maker decided to use rubber hose. His explanation was that the rubber hose expands and contracts at the same rate as the wooden handle.
You can also see from the picture of the parang panjai above that I pinned the tang in using two brass pins. Pinning the tang is usually not needed, as the handle and tang is very much secure. Some of my customers insist on having the handle pinned, as they are worried that the parang blade might come out during use. If you use your parang regularly, you will notice when it starts to loosen, and you can remedy it before it becomes worse. In this instance, I pinned the tang just for the fun of it.
The picture above is of the Parang Panjai’s sheath. I like the simple dark colored rattan weave. It makes the sheath look elegant. The weaving also serves a purpose which is to keep the two piece sheath together. The sheath itself is made of a very lightweight piece of wood, I think perhaps from the Meranti tree.
Who can resist chopping a log when it’s right in front of you!
If any of you have noticed, some of the East Malaysian or Borneo parangs ( Sabah and Sarawak ) can be quite long. I am sure some of you may be wondering how on earth do the locals carry a long parang or duku . If you hang it down vertically or hook it to your belt, like a conventional parang , you will be very uncomfortable as for two reasons, one would be because the parang is so long, it will swing all over the place , and second, if you were to squat or sit, the parang will rip your belt off when the edge of the sheath hits the ground.
If you look at the picture above, you will notice that these three long parangs all have a different way of attaching it to your waist. They do not have a belt loop, but have some cord or rattan weaving which is attached to the the sheath lengthwise. The cord is actually a length of cord with a loop, and part of this loop is tied on to the sheath. It’s pretty difficult to describe by words, but if you look at the following pictures, it should be pretty understandable.
This is how the prang looks when it is worn. Notice how the parang/ duku is horizontal compared to vertical? It looks almost like how a katana is worn too. By having the parang horizontal like this, it enables you to draw the parang easily, while it does not hinder your movement. I’ve carried these types of parang before and believe me , it is very comfortable and does not get into the way at all. I did push the parang all the way to the back once as the handle kept getting in the way while walking, but once that is done, no more problems. And when you need the parang again, just pull it back to the most comfortable position. This way of wearing the long parang is the traditional way, ie it was not invented by me, so I’m pretty sure it has evolved and stood the test of time to be the most suitable way of carrying the long parang.
Here is how you draw the parang . You notice that the handle and blade is forward, so you don’t have to change hands or grips when you draw and use the parang. So there you have it, that’s how to carry a long parang .
The Dug out sheath
Some of us may not even know that there are basically two types of wooden parang sheaths – the one piece sheath and the two piece sheaths. What this means is just how the sheath is made , for one piece sheaths , the slot for the parang is dug out from a block of wood, using special tools. As for the two piece sheaths, the slot for the parang is dug out on two halves and later glued or tied together.
Obviously, the dug out sheath is more complicated , difficult and time consuming to make , compared to the two piece sheath. The top two pictures shows two parang sheaths that use the one piece sheath, while the lower picture shows the joints or the two halves of a 2-piece sheath.
The two one piece sheaths above are made in Kelantan, and I am not sure if it is only available in that state. I have yet to find a one piece sheath made in other states in Malaysia.
Another tell tale sign that a sheath is one piece , is the extra wedge of wood at the end of the sheath . You can see this from the picture above. Note how the two sheaths on the left have a small wedge of wood at the bottom of the sheath ( one piece ) . The two sheaths on the right are 2-piece sheaths. some two piece sheaths can be opened and cleaned.
Here in the picture above you can see some of the tools used to make the one piece sheath. First a hole needs to be drilled through the sheath, then a special saw like to ones above are inserted and used to saw out the slot for the parang. These special saws are not available for purchase, but are usually hand made by the parang craftsmen themselves.