The final stage of finishing the wooden sheath required some rattan-work, so I thought I’d do an introductory video (below) on how to split rattan and include the simpan knot (which is used to bind the two halves of the sheath together).

Rattans are simply climbing palms (same family) and you quickly get to know them in the jungle as they snag your clothes with their thorns and hooks.  They’re also known by the names wait-a-while,  stop-a-minute and lawyer vine (the last moniker presumably because everyone hates lawyers?)

The longest rattan is rattan manau (the record being 170 metres in length) and, when Baha was a young man, he would harvest this rattan from the jungle.  It’s a risky business because the skill is to cut the rattan as high up in the canopy as possible (the rattan stabilises itself by hooking onto nearby trees as it grows, but its own stem is not rigid).  The bravest in the party will climb up the rattan stem itself until he’s as high as he dares (maybe hundred feet up) and will then start to cut the rattan stem above him.  The idea is to cut though as much of the stem as you can without actually severing the rattan itself, then climb back down to earth and twist the rattan to make the break above where it’s been weakened.  But, if you cut too much of the stem you are holding onto, it will plunge to the ground with you hanging onto it!   It’s the jungle version of Russian Roulette and the unlucky ones who cut too far often die as a result.

The wooden sheath took longer to make than anticipated, but I’m glad I did it – there’s always something nice about having equipment you’ve made for yourself and the wooden handle just feels… right.  The question now is whether the handle will hold the parang blade in or not….time will tell!