Shield (koraibi)

DATE:
c. 1900
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Wood, paint, rattan, and coconut shell
CLASSIFICATION:
Costume
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 39 3/4 x 10 5/8 x 5 1/4 in. (100.96 x 26.99 x 13.34 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Arts of the Pacific Islands - Indonesia , Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift in loving memory of Corinne Galinger Alpert by the Alpert Family
OBJECT NUMBER:
1999.135

General Description

Siberut Island shields are distinguished by their tapering lower end and curving middle portion that flares into a broad upper section. A coconut shell fastened to a circular opening in the center of the shield protects the warrior’s hand. The shields are decorated with tightly coiled spirals thought to represent the young frond of a fern. A silhouetted figure near the lower end represents a slain victim during a headhunting raid.

This superb shield belonged to Matsebu, an old shaman who kept it because of the hands that had been carved over the shield’s original designs. Carved hands serve as a mnemonic device that is used to preserve and keep alive the memory of deceased relatives. When no one remembered to whom the hands belonged, a shield was no longer greatly valued and was generally discarded.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.