Proposing a Design – the Borneo Machete Sarawak (Borneo Illang)

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  • Topic: Sword, Katana, Machete
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  • Published : September 25, 2012
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Swinburne University of Technology | School of Business and Design | HDC001 Twentieth Century
Design
Option 2: Proposing a Design – The Borneo Machete Sarawak (Borneo Illang)
The Borneo machete also known as an “illang” is one of traditional items in Sarawak. The illang has been used until today such as farming, hunting and others. In old time the illang was used for the head hunting until Rajah Brooke forbade it. There are two types illang in Sarawak. A common illang usually uses for daily life. A war illang or known as ceremony illang was used in the war but today it is used for decoration as well as special events like Gawai Day. Even though the illang uses until today, there have still weakness in the illang’s design.

The common illang photos I took when I went back to my village in break semester
Materials are one of the problems faced during the process of making the common illang. Most of the Sarawak illang’s materials like a rattan to make a “sempai” come from forest. Therefore, the common illang can’t mass produce. Plastic is the wise choice for replacing most of the common illang’s materials. An illang’s sheath also can make from plastic instead using a wood. In the 4th picture, we can use this material to replace the rattan. A plastic rope is easy to get in city as well as it is mass produced. The machete maker does not need to go the forest to get the illang’s materials.

The rattan for the sempai’s material

The sempai

The tool to make the sempai

The plastic rope to replace the rattan

Carving is the most important features in the illang especially for the ceremony illang. However, some the illangs have complicated carving design especially in its sheath and hilt. Therefore, it is hard to clean the illang as well as it takes a time to make the traditional carving. As mention in the 1st paragraphs, plastic is the best choice to replace the illang’s material. By using plastic as the material, we do not need to carve the illang’s sheath. Moreover, plastic is easy to shape and bend when it is in liquid form. We can make carving mold to replace the traditional carve.

When the illang’s farmer gets mud, it is not very easy to clean the mud especially on the illang’s carving. Most of illang materials are the wood especially the sheath and the hilt. When the owner illang washes the carving on the sheath, the wood will be expanded. The wood will be broken if the user often to washes his illang’s sheath. We can replace the sheath’s illang by using the plastic. Plastic will not expand even it washes. Fabrics also are good material to replace the wood. It is easy to clean if the illang’s sheath makes from the fabrics.

The good sword has to have a nice flexibility. There is no exception when the machete maker makes illang’s blade. For example, a samurai swords’ blade has curve. The curve at the samurai swords make the swords are more flexible. The illang’s blade can be made curve same as the samurai swords. An iron smith has to forge an iron with high temperatures. When the iron is in liquid form, the iron is easy to be made the curve at blade. The illang’s blade can absorb the momentum when it hews something. Therefore, the user can use his full strength to chop something the illang will not return back to his user.

Corrosion is the big problem for the illang’s blade especially for the ceremony illang. The ceremony illang gets rusty because it only uses in certain day. To prevent the illang’s blade gets rusty, the illang’s blade must be forged with non- rusty material such as carbon, aluminum, and others. The aesthetic value of the ceremony illang’s blade can be improved by using these materials. Moreover, these materials can give more the hardness for illang’s blade. For the common illang, the illang maker can mix some the stainless steel’s materials when he forges an iron to...
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