Dagger (pattei)



c. 1900
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General Description

The elegant grip of this dagger is ornamented in the middle by a thickened ridge and ends in a spiral that may represent a coiled millipede or the tightly wound coil of an unopened fern. The iron blade, which was ground into shape, was acquired through trade because the Mentawaian did not forge their own metal.

The dagger was worn tucked at a horizontal angle into the man’s loincloth on the right-hand side. Long ago, daggers—like shields, bows and poisoned arrows, and spears—were weapons for Mentawaian men who went on headhunting raids. They symbolized a warrior’s prowess and were an essential part of the bride price, objects given to the bride’s family by the groom.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.