Sarawak martial arts observed in 1882

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Sarawak martial arts observed in 1882

Postby admin » 11 Sep 2015 22:21

They were much entertained one day with a war-dance between two warriors, which was a graphic pantomime of their customs. "The two men appeared fully armed, and were supposed to be each alone on the war-path, looking out for a head. They moved to the beat of native drums, and seemed to be going through all the motions of looking out for an enemy, pulling out the ranjows (sharp pieces of cane stuck in the earth, point upwards, to lame an enemy). At length they descried one another, danced defiance, and, flourishing swords and shields, commenced the attack. The nimbleness with which they parried every stroke of the sword, and covered their bodies with their shields, was remarkable. In real combat, to strike the shield is certain death, because the sword sticks in the wood and cannot be withdrawn in time to prevent the other man from using his sword. After a time, one of the combatants fell wounded, and covered his body with his shield. The other danced round him triumphantly, and with one blow pretended to cut off his head; then, head in hand, he capered with the wildest gestures, expressive of the very ecstasy of savage delight


From: Sketches of Our Life at Sarawak. Harriette McDougall. 1882.
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Re: Sarawak martial arts observed in 1882

Postby Thearos » 13 Sep 2015 04:45

Everything is interesting here-- anti-raid caltrops, shields where blades stick… I might mention a parallel from Xenophon, Anabasis, Book 6:

After they had made libations and sung the paean, two Thracians rose up first and began a dance in full armour to the music of a flute, leaping high and lightly and using their sabres; finally, one struck the other, as everybody thought, and the second man fell, in a rather skilful way. [6] And the Paphlagonians set up a cry. Then the first man despoiled the other of his arms and marched out singing the Sitalcas,3 while other Thracians carried off the fallen dancer, as though he were dead; in fact, he had not been hurt at all. [7] After this some Aenianians and Magnesians arose and danced under arms the so-called carpaea.4 [8] The manner of the dance was this: a man is sowing and driving a yoke of oxen, his arms laid at one side, and he turns about frequently as one in fear; a robber approaches; as soon as the sower sees him coming, he snatches up his arms, goes to meet him, and fights with him to save his oxen. The two men do all this in rhythm to the music of the flute. Finally, the robber binds the man and drives off the oxen; or sometimes the master of the oxen binds the robber, and then he yokes him alongside the oxen, his hands tied behind him, and drives off. [9] After this a Mysian came in carrying a light shield in each hand, and at one moment in his dance he would go through a pantomime as though two men were arrayed against him, again he would use his shields as though against one antagonist, and again he would whirl and throw somersaults while holding the shields in his hands, so that the spectacle was a fine one. [10] Lastly, he danced the Persian dance, clashing his shields together and crouching down and then rising up again; and all this he did, keeping time to the music of the flute
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