Parang (knife)

Last updated

A souvenir Indonesian parang pisang
Type Chopper (knife)
Place of origin Malay archipelago region
Service history
Used by Austronesian
Blade  typeSingle edge, convex edge
Hilt  typeWater buffalo horn, wood
Scabbard/sheath Water buffalo horn, wood

The parang ( /ˈpɑːrɑːŋ/ ; Dusun: dangol) is a type of knife used across the Malay archipelago. [1] [2] It is often mistakenly assumed to be a sword; however, there is no evidence that it has ever been used in a formal military conflict, nor that its intended purpose was to be used as a combat weapon. Although some may argue that it could be called a machete or a chopper as it is a direct variation of the modern machete, its academic status remains as a knife.



Typical vegetation in South East Asia is more woody than in South America, and the parang is therefore optimized for a stronger chopping action with a heavier blade and a "sweet spot" further forward of the handle; the blade is also beveled more obtusely to prevent it from binding in the cut. This is the same rationale and (in practical terms) the same design as the Indonesian golok and very similar to the Filipino bolo. The parang blade ranges from 10 to 36 inches (25.4 to 91.44 cm) in length. [1] The parang has a weight of up to 2 lb (0.9 kg) and the edge usually uses a convex grind. The parang has three different edges: the front is very sharp and used for skinning, the middle is wider and used for chopping, and the back end (near the handle) is very fine and used for carving. A parang handle is normally made out of wood or horn, with a wide end to prevent slips in wet conditions. The tang of the parang is usually of hidden tang design, but full tang designs are also available.


An example of a parang variant, the parang candung; which was popularized by Ray Mears ParangRayMears.JPG
An example of a parang variant, the parang candung; which was popularized by Ray Mears

Like the machete, the parang is frequently used in the jungle as well as being a tool for making housing, furniture, and tools. The parang has been noted in John "Lofty" Wiseman's SAS Survival Handbook [3] for this use. Wiseman points out that by grinding three different angles in three separate regions along the Parang blade—a narrow angle at the tip for skinning and fine cutting work; a wide, chopping blade angle along the bow in the blade for ax work, and an all-purpose hunting/survival knife angle along the edge nearest the handle for general purpose work—the parang becomes a very useful, and compact all-purpose tool in the bush.

Parang are recorded being used in attacks against the British and Japanese. They are typically carried as weapons by gang members and robbers in Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Sri Lanka, due to these countries having strict gun laws.

Parangs were used by Chinese forces against the Japanese in the Jesselton Revolt during the Japanese occupation of British Borneo. [4] [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

Knife Tool or weapon with a cutting edge or blade

A knife is a tool or weapon with a cutting edge or blade, often attached to a handle or hilt. One of the earliest tools used by humanity, knives appeared at least 2.5 million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools. Originally made of wood, bone, and stone, over the centuries, in step with improvements in both metallurgy and manufacturing, knife blades have been made from copper, bronze, iron, steel, ceramic, and titanium. Most modern knives have either fixed or folding blades; blade patterns and styles vary by maker and country of origin.

A machete is a broad blade used either as an agricultural implement similar to an axe, or in combat like a long-bladed knife. The blade is typically 30 to 45 centimetres long and usually under 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick. In the Spanish language, the word is a diminutive form of the word macho, which was used to refer to sledgehammers. In the English language, an equivalent term is matchet, though it is less commonly used. In the English-speaking Caribbean, such as Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and Grenada and in Trinidad and Tobago, the term cutlass is used for these agricultural tools.

Kukri Type of blade associated with the Gurkha people of Nepal and India

The kukri or khukuri is a type of machete originating from the Indian subcontinent, and is traditionally associated with the Nepali-speaking Gurkhas of Nepal and India. The knife has a distinct recurve in its blade. It serves multiple purposes as a melee weapon and also as a regular cutting tool throughout most of South Asia. The blade has traditionally served the role of a basic utility knife for the Gurkhas. The kukri is the national weapon of Nepal, and consequently is a characteristic weapon of the Nepalese Army. The kukri also sees standard service with various regiments and units within the Indian Army, such as the Assam Rifles, the Kumaon Regiment, the Garhwal Rifles and the various Gorkha regiments. Outside of its native region of South Asia, the kukri also sees service with the Royal Gurkha Rifles of the British Army—a unique regiment that is quite different from the rest of the British Army as it is the only regiment that recruits its soldiers strictly from Nepal; a relationship that has its roots in the times of British colonial rule in India. The kukri is the staple weapon of all Gurkha military regiments and units throughout the world, so much so that some English-speakers refer to the weapon as a "Gurkha blade" or "Gurkha knife". The kukri often appears in Nepalese and Indian Gorkha heraldry and is used in many traditional, Hindu-centric rites such as wedding ceremonies.

Bolo knife Type of Knife or sword

A bolo is a large cutting tool of Filipino origin similar to the machete. It is used particularly in the Philippines, the jungles of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as in the sugar fields of Cuba.

Golok Type of Machete

A golok is a cutting tool, similar to a machete, that comes in many variations and is found throughout the Indonesian archipelago. It is used as an agricultural tool as well as a weapon. The word golok is of Indonesian origin, but is also used in Malaysia and in the Philippines. Both in Malaysia and in Indonesia, the term is usually interchangeable with the longer and broader parang. In the Sundanese region of West Java it is known as bedog.

Kitchen knife

A kitchen knife is any knife that is intended to be used in food preparation. While much of this work can be accomplished with a few general-purpose knives – notably a large chef's knife, a tough cleaver, a small paring knife and some sort of serrated blade – there are also many specialized knives that are designed for specific tasks. Kitchen knives can be made from several different materials.

In cooking, a chef's knife, also known as a cook's knife, is a cutting tool used in food preparation. The chef's knife was originally designed primarily to slice and disjoint large cuts of beef. Today it is the primary general-utility knife for most western cooks.

Survival knife

Survival knives are knives intended for survival purposes in a wilderness environment, often in an emergency when the user has lost most of his/her main equipment. Most military aviation units issue some kind of survival knife to their pilots in case their aircraft are shot down behind enemy lines and the crew needs tools to facilitate their survival, escape, and rescue. Survival knives can be used for trapping, skinning, wood cutting, wood carving, and other uses. Hunters, hikers, and outdoor sport enthusiasts use survival knives. Some survival knives are heavy-bladed and thick. Other survival knives are lightweight or fold in order to save weight and bulk as part of a larger survival kit. Their functions often include serving as a hunting knife. Features, such as hollow handles, that could be used as storage space for matches or similar small items, began gaining popularity in the 1980s. Custom or semi-custom makers such as Americans Jimmy Lile, Bo Randall, and Chris Reeve are often credited with inventing those features.


A billhook or bill hook is a versatile cutting tool used widely in agriculture and forestry for cutting woody material such as shrubs, small trees and branches and is distinct from the sickle. It was commonly used in Europe with an important variety of traditional local patterns. Elsewhere, it was also developed locally such as in the Indian subcontinent, or introduced regionally as in the Americas, South Africa and Oceania by European settlers.


Sharpening is the process of creating or refining a sharp edge of appropriate shape on a tool or implement designed for cutting. Sharpening is done by grinding away material on the implement with an abrasive substance harder than the material of the implement, followed sometimes by processes to polish the sharp surface to increase smoothness and to correct small mechanical deformations without regrinding.

Mandau (knife) Type of Sword, Cutlass, Ceremonial Knife

Mandau is the traditional weapon of the Dayak people of Borneo. It is also known as Parang Ilang among the Bidayuh, Iban and Penan people, Malat by the Kayan people or Baieng by the Kenyah people or Bandau by Lun Bawang or Pelepet/Felepet by Lundayeh. Mandau is mostly ceremonial. However, a less elaborate version called Ambang is used as an everyday practical tool.

A cane knife is a large hand-wielded cutting tool similar to a machete. Its use is prevalent in the harvesting of sugarcane in dominant cane-growing countries such as Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Australia, South Africa, Ecuador, Cuba, Jamaica, the Philippines and parts of the United States, especially Louisiana and Florida, as well as Hawaii. It is the primary tool used in countries that do not employ mechanical means for harvesting cane.

Weapons of silat

Listed here are the weapons of silat. The most common are the machete, staff, kris, sickle, spear, and kerambit. Because Southeast Asian society was traditionally based around agriculture, many of these weapons were originally farming tools.

Blakas Type of Chopper, Cleaver, Ceremonial Knife

Blakas or Belakas is a general name for any sort of cleaver or large knife originating from Bali, Indonesia that has a heavy rectangular blade with a straight cutting edge used for chopping. Their long, round hilts become somewhat thinner to one or both ends. The blade usually has fanciful shape and encrusted motifs. Sometimes it is made for ceremonial purposes, and also used in pairs with golok. It is common for almost every Balinese household to own a Blakas because the blade is in everyday use for kitchen chores, in the orchards, and in ceremonial activities.

Jimpul Type of Chopper, Machete

Jimpul is a traditional weapon of the Sea Dayak and Kenyah people from Borneo. It is often thought that the Parang Jimpul may be considered as a hybrid between the Mandau and Langgai Tinggang. The Parang Jimpul is an intermediary form between the Mandau and the Langgai Tinggang dating from c. 1870-c. 1885.

Pandat Type of Chopper, War Sword

Pandat is the war sword of the Dayak people of northwest Borneo and is never used as a tool. This weapon was featured in the American bladesmthing competition, Forged in Fire 's season 3 episode 9.

Kabeala Type of Chopper, Machete

Kabeala is a traditional weapon originating from East Sumba, Indonesia.

Wedung Type of Ceremonial Knife, Machete

Wedung is a traditional large knife of the Javanese people and the Balinese people originating from Indonesia.

Parang Chandong Type of Chopper

Parang Chandong is a traditional chopper used by the Dayak people of the Baram River in Borneo.

Parang Latok Type of Parang, Sword

Parang Latok is a sword from Kalimantan, Indonesia, that also functions as a machete.


  1. 1 2 Donn F. Draeger (1992). Weapons and fighting arts of Indonesia. Rutland, Vt. : Charles E. Tuttle Co. ISBN   978-0-8048-1716-5.
  2. Albert G Van Zonneveld (2002). Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago. Koninklyk Instituut Voor Taal Land. ISBN   90-5450-004-2.
  3. Wiseman, John (2004). SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land Or at Sea. HarperCollins. p. 36. ISBN   978-0-06-057879-4.
  4. R. A. M. Wilson (15 September 1994). A cargo of spice, or Exploring Borneo. Radcliffe Press. p. 220. ISBN   978-1-85043-793-2.
  5. Paul H. Kratoska (13 May 2013). Southeast Asian Minorities in the Wartime Japanese Empire. Routledge. pp. 111–. ISBN   978-1-136-12506-5.