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COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Dolk met houten schede TMnr H-1482
A Palitai, pre-1893.
Type Knife
Place of origin Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
Service history
Used by Mentawai people, Siberut people
Length approximately 30 - 100 cm

Blade type Double edged
Hilt type Wood
Scabbard/sheath Wood

Palitai (or Palite, Parittei, Pattei) is the traditional knife of the Mentawai people, originating from the Mentawai Islands[1] off West Sumatra, Indonesia.


COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Radja Si Lobaie van de Mentawai eilanden TMnr 10001829

A Mentawai man seen with a traditional knife, Palitai at the waist.

The Palitai has a straight and double edged blade. The handle is uniquely long, slim and curiously curved in shape.[2] It is a knife with a smooth blade on both edges of which are sharpened and run parallel. The edges come together at the tip to the end in a sharp point. The blade has in the middle along the entire length an elevated rib. The steel used to produce blades was imported from Sumatra, as forging was unknown on Mentawai islands. The blades were finished in the desired form on the spot. The total length may vary from 30 cm to 1 m. The hilt of the Palitai is thin and long, at the blade still rather broad but becoming thinner to run long and elegantly into an almost sharp tip or decorated end. The hilt has a round thicker part just past half way. The Palitai is carried on the right, in the loin-cloth and may be part of the dowry.[3]


  1. Taiwan Sheng Li Bo Wu Guan (2009). Taiwan Sheng Li Bo Wu Guan Ban Nian Kan, Volume 60. The Museum. 
  2. George Cameron Stone (1999). A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times. Courier Dover Publication. ISBN 0-4861-3129-7. 
  3. Albert G Van Zonneveld (2002). Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago. Koninklyk Instituut Voor Taal Land. ISBN 9-0545-0004-2. 

Further readingEdit

  • George Cameron Stone, Donald J. LaRocca (1999). "A Glossary Of The Construction, Decoration And Use Of Arms And Armor: In All Countries And In All Times". Courier Dover Publications. p. 367. ISBN 978-0-486-40726-5. 
  • Waldemar Stöhr, Willy Foy, Klaus Clausmeyer (1968). "Ethnologica. Neue Folge: Band 1-4". Aurel Bongers. p. 84. ASIN B0039508FU. 

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