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Kelantan's Assasins Weapon, The Little Axe (Kapak Kecil)

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Subject :Kelantan's Assasins Weapon, The Little Axe (Kapak Kecil)
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Location :
Estimated Year : 1940
Media Type : Artifact
Source : Guan Hoe Company, Ipoh
Remark :

It is believed that the design of these three weaponized small axes originally came from Java during the Majapahit empire sometime in the 15th century. The axe was originally a tool for farming and daily chores, used for cutting fruits and various other foods.

Legend has it that during the migration of Javanese from Majapahit, four blacksmiths settled in the state of Pattani, working their trade for the Sultan. At the time Pattani was its own place, situated in the northern peninsular of Malaysia on the border of Southern Thailand. One of these blacksmiths was a lady named Pandai Minah and she is said to have introduced this small axe to the Pattani state. However it was her brother Pandai Jenal who is believed to have re-designed the small axe into the model seen and used today. The most notable difference was the handle which was fashioned with a curve design and sharp edges to be also be used as a weapon.

Like the karambit, it is said that the kapak kecil was considered a weapon of choice for the Srikandi or lady warrior. The pesilat (silat player) women would conceal the small axe either hidden in their bengkung (sash) or strap it to the side of their leg and sometimes even concealed the weapon in their hair, knotted into the bun. The hammer part of the blade’s head is for striking and the side sharp axe edge is naturally for ripping, hacking and slashing. The opponent's face is the target area for this weapon; due to its small blade it would be less effective in body cuts.


The Kapak Kecil measures less than 7 inches in length from the tip of its blade to the handle and its wood handle is generally made from ‘kayu nibung’ which is a type of wood found on most of South East Asia’s beaches.


In Kelantan, he Kapak Kecil became apart a favourite among the men; they would carry the small axe inconspicuously in their turban with the handle protruding. The weapon could be gripped, extracted and put to work instantly. In addition to the above methods of use it could also be thrown with remarkable accuracy.


With its small size this is clearly a weapon meant for defence as the handle point is extremely sharp and could be stabbed several times into the opponent's weapon arm, weakening it, before following up with a straight punch to the face holding the small axe and splitting the face apart.


However it was also perfect for covert attack, creeping up on the victim and hacking the neck veins from behind. Legend says that because of the regularity of use in the latter role the little axe became known as the ‘Assassin's Weapon’.


There are three examples of the little axe in our collection all of similar size although one has a steel head and the other two brass.

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