This slender paddle is absolutely authentic and very similar to one illustrated in H. Ling Roth’s classic The Native Tribes of Sarawak and British North Borneo, published in 1896, drawn form an exampler In the British Musuum Collection . The Ling Roth caption reads paddle of hard brown wood with T shaped top, c ylindrical shaft neatly engraved at each end, length 2 ft 5 ½ inches.
The early 20th century example offered here is very slightly longer than the Ling Roth drawingat26 inches/ 66 cm. (Click enlargements to see this line drawing).
There are several other examples of this shape, in the British Musuem, but they tend to be about a third longer. I have often wondered why these slender and beautifully carved paddles are called wedding paddles, but they were often made in pairs. I assumed they were carried in wedding ceremonies, possibly by the bride and groom. They are usually attributed to the Melanu or Sea Dayak, but I recently discovered that the Kayan and related Kenyah tribes feature canoes as a significant part of the marriage ceremony and I wondered if this might be a more accurate attribuition.
Among these tribes, it is traditional that the groom arrives at the bride’s house by canoe, no matter how close by he actually lives, and at the end of the ceremony, the married couple must also leave by canoe, throwing small gifts to the pursuing guests until they can make their escape.(Ref. Dayak Weddings at http://www.asiafinest.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=181704)