Characteristics, Variety, and Functions of 5 Typical Indonesian Traditional Weapons

Characteristics, Variety, and Functions of 5 Traditional Weapons – Sinaumed’s, have you ever seen traditional weapons? Usually, traditional weapons can be seen in museums or when someone wears traditional clothes. The existence of this traditional weapon is a legacy from our ancestors that are spread throughout Indonesia.

The territory of Indonesia is divided into several islands, namely Sumatra Island, Java Island, Kalimantan Island, Sulawesi Island, Bali Island, Papua Island, Nusa Tenggara Islands and Maluku Islands. Each of these islands consists of various provinces that have a variety of traditional weapons. Traditional weapons are characteristic of the culture of each province.

Before having separate traditional weapons in each region, our ancestors used to make weapons for hunting or protecting themselves from animals. In primitive times, the traditional weapons used were wooden or bamboo hunting tools. Furthermore, during the Stone Age, traditional wooden-stemmed stone weapons were used.

Entering the Bronze Age, metal began to be recognized as the basis for traditional weapons, namely tosan aji. Tosan aji is a traditional heirloom weapon in the form of spears, daggers, swords, wedung, rencong, badik, and so on. This heritage is a blend of high art and culture with sophisticated metallurgical technology. Until now, the process of making some tosan aji is still a mystery.

Just imagine, our ancestors could process various metals with simple tools into a magic tosan, for example titanium which has a high melting point of almost 2,000 0 C. Currently , titanium is used for missiles, rockets and spacecraft.

Tosan aji can bring out an extraordinary sense of courage to the owner or bearer. Javanese people generally refer to this as piyandel (increasing self-confidence). Rahmat (2010) in his book entitled Getting to Know Traditional Weapons reveals that a traditional weapon, for example an heirloom keris or an heirloom spear, given by the king to the nobles of the palace contains a belief. When the king’s trust was damaged by the noble’s bad behavior, the weapon would be withdrawn or reclaimed by the king.

This is what causes the tosan aji to be sacred and should not be used haphazardly, even today some heirloom weapons are believed to have supernatural powers.

To get to know some of these heirloom weapons, the following will explain the characteristics and functions summarized from several sources.

1. Cleaver

Kujang is a traditional weapon in the form of a sharp weapon that looks like a keris or machete. The cleaver has a unique shape in the form of a bulge at the base, serrated on one side in the middle, and curved at the ends.

According to some researchers, the cleaver comes from the words kudi and hyang . Kudi is taken from the Old Sundanese language which means a weapon that has magical magical powers, so it can be used as a repellant to reinforcements, for example to drive away enemies or avoid danger/illness.

Meanwhile, the word hyang can be equated with the meaning of a god in several mythologies. However, for the Sundanese people, hyang has a meaning and position above the gods. This is reflected in the teachings of “Dasa Prebakti” in the Sanghyang Siksa Kanda Ng Karesian text which mentions ” Dewa Bakti di Hyang “.

At the time of the Majapahit Kingdom, people who were experts in making cleavers were called guru teupa . The material for making cleaver tends to be thin, dry, porous, and contains lots of natural metal elements. This traditional weapon is about 20 centimeters–30 centimeters long and 5 centimeters wide. The eyes have 1-5 holes. Kujang weighs approximately 300 grams.

In the past, the cleaver could not be separated from the life of the Sundanese people because of its function as agricultural equipment. This statement is stated in the ancient manuscript Sanghyang Siksa Kanda Ng Karesian (1518) as well as oral traditions that developed in several areas, namely Rancah and Ciamis. Evidence that supports the statement that the cleaver is a farming tool can still be seen today in the Baduy, Banten, and Pancer Pengawinan communities in Sukabumi.

The characteristics of a cleaver have a sharp side and the following part names.

  • Papatuk/congo , namely a cleaver with an arrow-like tip;
  • Eluk/repentance , which is a cleaver that has an indentation on the back;
  • Cistern , which is a cleaver that has a prominent arch on the stomach;
  • Mata , namely the cleaver which has a small hole covered with gold and silver metal.

Kujang can be brought in the following ways.

  • Disoren, which is hung on the left side of the waist by using a coir or strap that is wrapped around the waist;
  • Ditogel, namely carried by tucking in a belt in the front of the stomach using a strap;
  • On the shoulder, which is carried by carrying the handle over the shoulder;
  • Carrying, that is carried by carrying or holding the stalk.

When viewed from the shape and variety, the cleaver is divided into the following types.

  • Kujang ciung, which is a cleaver that has a shape resembling the Ciung bird;
  • cleaver, which is a cleaver that looks like a rooster;
  • Kujang egrets, namely cleavers that resemble egrets;
  • Kujang bangkong, which is a cleaver that looks like a toad;
  • Dragon cleaver, which is a cleaver that looks like a dragon;
  • Kujang rhino, which is a cleaver that looks like a rhinoceros.
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Meanwhile, when viewed from its function, the cleaver is divided into the following types.

  • Kujang as an heirloom, namely the cleaver used as a symbol of the majesty of a king or royal official;
  • Kujang as an expert, namely a cleaver that functions as a weapon for war;
  • Kujang pampangs, which is a cleaver that functions as a tool in agriculture for pruning and planting crops.

2. Celurit

Celurit is a traditional Madurese weapon that has a curved blade shape. In the past, celurit was just a sickle that was often used by farmers to mow the grass in the fields and make fences for their houses. However, the sickle was later turned into a martial tool used by commoners when facing enemies.

Celurit is believed to come from the Sakera/Sakerah legend. He was a sugarcane foreman from Pasuruan who became one of the resistance figures against Dutch colonialism. He is known to always carry or wear celurit in his daily activities, especially as an agricultural or plantation tool.

He comes from among the students and a devout Muslim who practices Islam. Due to his constant resistance, Sakera was finally arrested and hanged in Pasuruan, East Java. His body was then buried in the southernmost area of ​​Bangil City or to be precise in the Bekacak area, Kolursari Village, Pasuruan Regency.

Celurit is divided into two types, namely celurit kembang turi and celurit wulu pitik (chicken feathers). Meanwhile, the various sizes of celurit are known as size 5 (smallest) and size 1 (largest). Slats for celurit can be made from various types of iron, for example stainless steel, railroad scrap metal, bridge iron, car iron, and steel.

Celurit has a hilt (handle) made of wood, including flower wood, stingi wood, guava wood, temoho wood, and so on. At the upstream end there is a 10-15-centimeter long rope that is used to hang or tie sickles. Usually, at the end of the upstream there is a depression 1 centimeter–2 centimeters deep.

The scabbard is made of thick buffalo skin or cowhide. The sickle sheath is only sewn 3/4 from the end of the sickle to make it easier to remove the sickle. Generally, celurit sheaths are decorated with simple carvings or ornaments.

3. Kris

Keris is a traditional weapon that can generally be found in Javanese society. Kerises come in various forms, for example, some have curved blades (always an odd number) and some have straight blades. Keris are generally measured in the hilt and scabbard.

The procedure for using a keris varies from region to region, for example a keris in Java is placed on the back of the waist during peacetime, but is placed at the front during wartime.

The keris generally consists of wilah , warangka and upstream. 

Wilah (Keris Blade)

Wilah is the main part of the keris which consists of certain parts which are not the same for each wilahan . At the base of the wilahan there is a pesi which is the lower end of a keris or keris stalk. Pesi length between 5-7cm, with a cross section of about 5-10 centimeters. Pesi elliptical shape like a pencil.

Warangka (Keris Sheath)

The warangka is a dagger sheath that has a specific function in the social life of the Javanese people. Warangka are generally made of teak, sandalwood, timoho, and yellowish. There are two types of warangka , namely the ladrang warangka and the gayaman warangka .

Warangka ladrang is used for official ceremonies, for example facing the king and other official palace events. This sheath is used by tucking the axle of the keris into the stagen (belt fold) at the back of the waist. Meanwhile, the warangka gayaman is used for daily needs. How to use it is placed in the front (near the waist) or the back waist.

Hulu (Keris Handle)

In Javanese, the handle of the keris is called gaman . The handle of the keris is decorated with various motifs. Materials used to make handles are usually of various materials, namely ivory, bone, metal, and wood. Generally, Javanese keris handles consist of sirah wingking (back side of head), jiling, cigir, shallow, bathuk (front side of head), weteng, and bungkul .

Keris weapons in Yogyakarta are highly respected and sacred by the community. Keris in Yogyakarta are given different titles, for example Kanjeng Kyai Ageng Baru, Kanjeng Kayi Agung, and Kanjeng Kayi Gagapatan.

4. Rencong

Rencong is a traditional dagger-like weapon that looks like the letter L. Rencong has the meaning of religious and Islamic philosophy. The handle in the form of Arabic letters is taken from the equivalent of the word Bismillah.

The rencong handle is curved and then thickened at the elbow in the shape of the letter Ba. The grip holder is in the shape of the letter Sin. The sharp shapes that descended down at the iron base near the hilt were in the shape of the letter Mim. The sharp iron base near the hilt which resembles iron strips from the base of the hilt to near the tip represents the letter Lam, and the lower part which bends slightly upwards is in the shape of the letter Ha. Thus, all the letters “Ba, Sin, Mim, Lam, and Ha” form the sentence Bismillah.

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This sentence is a symbol that shows the characteristics of the Acehnese people who strongly adhere to the glory of Islamic teachings. Rencong began to be used in 1514–1528, when Sultan Ali Mughayat Syah ruled the kingdom of Aceh.

Since ancient times, rencong has the following functions.

  • As clothing jewelry tucked in the waist;
  • As a sculpture and artistic tool, as used in the Seudati dance performance;
  • As a tool used to punch holes in thatch;
  • As a weapon of war to face war enemies who want to colonize Aceh.

Generally, rencong is made of white iron, brass, and buffalo horn. The rencong used by kings or sultans is usually made of ivory as the sheath and pure gold for the halves. Meanwhile, the other rencong are made of buffalo horn or wood as the scabbard and brass or white iron as the dagger. Rencong of white iron type is believed to have many benefits because it can drive away spirits, such as jinns and demons who try to interfere.

Rencong is a symbol of courage and bravery of the people of Aceh. For anyone who holds a rencong, will feel braver to face the enemy. At the present time, this weapon is no longer relevant for use as an attack weapon.

However, rencong is still relevant today as a symbol of the courage, toughness and virility of the people of Aceh. This is what causes rencong to be used in several events, such as wedding ceremonies. The use of this object is more towards the symbolization of a man’s courage in leading the family after marriage.

Rencong consists of four types, namely rencong meupucok, rencong meucugek, rencong meukuree, and rencong pudoi.

Rencong meupucok

This rencong has a shoot above the handle which is made of metal carvings from ivory or gold. This rencong handle looks small at the bottom and expands at the top. The base of the handle is decorated with bamboo shoots (tumpal patterned gold) and a jewel is placed on the handle.

The length of this rencong is about 30 centimeters. The rencong sheath is also made of ivory and bound with gold. This type of rencong is used in official ceremonies related to customary and artistic matters.

Rencong meucugek

It is called rencong meucugek because the handle of the rencong has a form of holder and adhesive which
in Acehnese terms is called cugek or meucugek . This cugek is curved to the back of the rencong eye by about
15 centimeters, so that it can be in the shape of an elbow. Cugek is needed so that it is easy to hold and not easily released when stabbed into the opponent’s or enemy’s body.

Rencong meukuree

The eyes of the rencong meukuree are given certain decorations, such as pictures of snakes and flowers. These images are interpreted by blacksmiths with various kinds of advantages and features. This rencong is then stored for a long time and will initially form a kuree (a type of sickle). The longer or the older the age of a rencong, the more kuree in the eye of the rencong. This kuree is also considered to have magical powers.

Rencong pudoi

Pudoi in Acehnese society means something that is considered lacking or something that is not yet perfect. This can be seen from the handle of this rencong. The handle is only straight and very short. So, what is meant by pudoi or imperfect is the shape of the rencong handle.

5. Machete

Golok is a traditional weapon of the Betawi people. In the past, the Betawi people used machetes to decorate their waists, both inside and outside the home to protect themselves from attacks by criminals. The existence of this weapon in Betawi society is influenced by the culture of West Java which surrounds it.

The difference between the two can be seen from the shape model and the name. Meanwhile, the quality between the two regions is not much different. This is because the majority of blacksmiths who make it refer to places that are in Ciomas, Banten and Cibatu, Sukabumi.

The Betawi people divide the golok into four, namely the gobang gobang, the betok and badik badik golok, and the tip down golok.

So, that’s a brief explanation of the Characteristics, Variety, and Functions of 5 Distinctive Traditional Weapons of Indonesian Society.