Drop by Kampung Siasai in Kota Belud, on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu to learn more of the ancient traditions of parang making in Sabah. The village is famed for its handmade parangsby the Bajau community.
A parang is a medium-sized tool or weapon, or better known as a long blade or machete has been handmade by the Bajaus in Sabah for generations. It is used for clearing land, cutting meat and also as wall decorations.
Here is a step-by-step guide to the parang making process by Roslan, a skilled Bajau parang maker, from Kampung Siasai.
- scrap iron
- various sizes of hammer
- grip tool
- lots of coffee
- practice, practice, practice
Step 1: First, a fire is lit in the makeshift burner.
Step 2: Once it is hot enough, put the chosen piece of scrap iron into the fire, heating it until it glows a bright red.
Step 3: Take the scrap iron out of the fire and put it on the anvil.
Step 4: Use a sledge hammer to pound the scrap iron repeatedly to form the desired shape.
Step 5: Shaping the scrap iron requires patience, as it has to be done meticulously to achieve the desired outline.
Step 6: Once this is done, let the scrap iron cool before heating it again in the fire. This process is done repeatedly, to shape the parang.
Step 7: The parang is then cut by using a sharp cutting tool, striking it repeatedly along the edges to shape the blade and handle.
Step 8: Once this is done, the knife will be smoothed with sandpaper to rough out the edges and to make it shiny.
Step 9: Next, the handle of the parang will be fashioned from sturdy wood. It is then completed with an elaborately decorated sheath. Sometimes, special motifs are carved into the wooden handle, making it more attractive.
Step 10: The parang is given one last polish with a cloth before it is finally completed. It usually takes a day or two to make a parang, but specially designed ones make take longer.
Visitors can purchase and order these exquisitely designed parangs from Kampung Siasai.
(*Just a rough guide to parang making, for the real deal head over to Kampung Siasai to learn more of this ancient craft)Getting there:
It is roughly an hour's drive to Kota Belud from Kota Kinabalu. Negotiate with a taxi driver to get to the village, or one can make their own arrangements with the travel agencies to get to the village.
The famed Tamu Kota Belud is also situated near Kampung Siasai.