Keris and Other Malay Weapons by Gerald B. Gardner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Weapons of Malaysia
Gerald B. Gardner, the father of Modern Witchcraft, was stationed back in the day in Malaysia. Having worked on rubber plantations and Britsih customs in the far east he had the opportunity to interact with the indigenous people and learn of the their ways.
One of his areas of study was that of Malaysian weaponry. By far the most popular weapon in Malayssia was the Keris. It is believed that the Keris may have originally come from India or Thailand as those two coutries sure had an influence on Malaysia. But in reality the Keris may have well came from Malaysia. THe tail of the stingray is believed to be the origin. It was straight with poisoned spines running along it. A handle was fashioned much like an umbrella hook or pistol hook which enabled for stabbing motions. The poison from the stingray could kill and the spines tended to be very sharp.
Early Keris's were most likely made of stone and then evoleed into bronze and other metals. THe first ones were rather straight and the later edition were wavy. THe Keris was made by smelting iron bars together and putting a young girls hair into it. THE holder was made by putting two pieces of steal together. THe Keris was also a magical weapon as it was supposed to be inhabited by a spirit and got stronmger with each killing. The Pawang, or witch would be the one to charge it. THe Keris could kill by stabbing or it could kill just by pointing it at someone.Legend about how pointing a keris in a certain direction to spare one's house from the flames of a raging fire. The word for soul is Sematag which comes from the pre hindu goddess Sema.
THis book written by Gerald Gardner also catalogues the various daggers, swords, spears, cannons and guns the Malaysians used. THeir battle gear is discussed at length as well as their attitude toward war. War to them was game where in there was never a full scale battle but rather limited attack on outposts . Often times the soldiers went to battle unpaid but took booty and women as their prize. They often times dressed in their best finery. There were often agreements to stop fighting after a certain times and their was lots of room for negotiation.
THe Malys used lots of guerrilla warfare tactics as the jungles were very dense. They did not believe in fighting to the death but rather it was ok to flee a battle where you would die so you could fight back from the jungles. Pawangs could also charm people with invulnerability. Mr. Gardner never saw this in action.
Gerald Gardner gives a sobering account of Malay weapons by cutting through the superstition and giving us the straight facts. THe Malays did not have a very advanced culture and they got lots of things from Europenas, Indians, Chinese and Arbs. THe book also has a glossary in the back.
THe only drawbacks to the book are it's brevity and lack of additional resources for further research. Plus the information might be dated as this is an old book.
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