The Wali is a traditional wood carving knife used by Melayu woodcarvers in Peninsular Malaysia. It is a favourite amongst carvers because it produces finer shapes than a chisel does. This is the primary difference between Malaysian carvings and those from Indonesia or Thailand which employ the chisel to remove wood chips.
The Wali is also used as a stripping knife to create long bamboo strips for weaving or even as a fillet-like tool to strip fat and meat from cattle skin which will be used to make the Wayang Kulit shadow puppets.
Pisau wali buat peraut,
Camca jatuh patah berdengung,
Gila latah ikan di laut,
Melihat umpan di kaki gugung.
Stripping with the Pisau Wali,
A falling spoon hums as it breaks,
Excited are the fish in the sea,
To see the bait at the water’s edge.
The Wali Jantan is a single bladed knife-like weapon that acts as a companion to the Lading, Silat Cekak's official weapon. It shares only its name with the Wali but is obviously of a different design. When drawn from the sheath and held in a forward grip, the sharpened edge actually points upwards, thus negating its use as a slashing instrument. It becomes immediately clear that this weapon was designed to stab.
According to a statement made by guru utama Md Radzi Haji Hanafi of Silat Cekak Hanafi, the name Wali means Ahli, which could be translated as Expert or Specialist. Jantan means Manliness.
The weapon, which can be held in both forward and reverse grip, is used by selected members of Silat Cekak Hanafi. It is conferred by the guru utama to anyone he wishes. Currently, it has been reported that only 10 people have been awarded a Wali Jantan.
Proof of existence?
The uniqueness of this weapon, like the Lading Cekak, which doesn't exist in the arsenal of any other silat lineage makes its origins and history difficult to trace. The Wali Jantan was introduced publicly by guru utama Md Radzi in 2000. Because of this, it is hard to corroborate the claim that it was used by the Panglimas of Kedah in the last century. The weapon was previously kept secret.
However, I have personally seen a Wali Jantan owned by Haji Amruddin Buang, a senior Cekak master who claimed to have received it from Allahyarham Ustaz Hanafi himself.
Aside from this, the website Memori Kedah (http://memori-kedah.net/) records photographs of a Wali Jantan in its museum with a similar design. It states that the hilt is made from buffalo horn and the cap at the end of the sheath is made of ivory. There are carvings on the sheath and the cap. The length of the blade from hilt to tip is approximatel 26.5cm and the length of the sheath is approximately 21cm.
The measurements of the Wali Jantan are kept secret by the guru utama. Those who receive the weapon will be taught how to use it. It is said to be an effective weapon when fighting in pitch darkness. It is used for both attack and countering.
When attacking, the user employs a unique method that allows them to unsheath the blade with one hand in a split second. The handle and sheath design also facilitate this function. As part of its smithing custom, the process has to begin and end on the same day of the week.
In his book Silat Melayu: The Malay Art of Attack and Defence, Ku Ahmad Ku Mustaffa mentions that the Wali comes in two varieties, the Wali Jantan and the Wali Betina. However, he makes no distinction between nor description of them and only relates how the Wali is similar to a golok and is used in the fields.
The Memori Kedah website also documents the existence of the Wali Betina and states that both hilt and sheath are made of wood while the cap on the end of the sheath is either made of horn or ivory. The blade's length from hilt to tip is approximately 26cm and the length of the sheath is approximately 23cm.