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Title

Warrior or headhunter’s necklace (kalabubu)

late 19th century-early 20th century


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

Nias society was once governed by a rigid hierarchical class system consisting of an aristocratic ruling class, commoners and slaves. An array of regalia was used by aristocrats and commoners to mark status, in accordance with wealth and power. Comprised of polished discs of coconut strung onto a metal band, the ‘kalabubu’ was worn exclusively by males and once restricted to those who had attained the status of a warrior or headhunter.

According to some early accounts of Nias culture, it was believed that an uninitiated wearer of a ‘kalabubu’ would be marked and punished by deafness. For the most chiefly aristocratic warriors, the elegant torque would have been covered in gold leaf, the ultimate marker of nobility and a connection with the gods. Following the prohibition of headhunting on Nias by the Dutch in the early twentieth century, the accoutrements of warriors continued to be used for ceremonial performances and honoured as ancestral heirlooms.


Details


Place where the work was made

South Nias Indonesia


Date

late 19th century-early 20th century


Media category

Ceremonial object


Materials used

coconut shell, brass


Dimensions

25.0 x 22.3 x 3.4 cm


Credit

Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


Location

Not on display


Accession number

524.2010



Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Provenance


Christopher Wilson, pre 1989-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, probably purchased on Nias, Indonesia mid 1970s or late 1980s.

Mariann Ford, 1996-Dec 2010, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, inherited by from the estate of Christopher Wilson. Gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010.


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 54 (colour illus.).