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Warrior's shield (baluse)

late 19th century-early 20th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Nias Indonesia
    Cultural origin
    late 19th century-early 20th century
    Media category
    Arms & armour
    Materials used
    wood, steel, wire and rattan
    125.0 x 34.5 x 9.5 cm
    Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    In former times, warfare and headhunting were prevalent throughout Nias, with both activities considered vital to a society’s prosperity. Success in warfare increased wealth and power through the accumulation of assets and slaves, and the collection of enemy heads was deemed necessary as a precursor to the creation of temples and gold ornaments and secondary burial rites. Among some communities it was also required in preparation for marriage.

    The trappings of a warrior included adornments to signify success and rank, protective clothing and weapons such as swords, spears and large
    shields. The typical Nias warrior’s shield or ‘baluse’ was used in battle as well as ritual performances.

    Carved in the form of a stylised leaf shaped from a single piece of wood, this ‘baluse’ is embellished with cords of rattan that run from the back of
    the shield across the face. These may have served to strengthen the shield and lend the surface a reptilian appearance.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

  • Provenance

    Thorpe Gallery, pre 1994, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia

    Christopher Wilson, 1994-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, puchased from Thorpe Gallery (art dealership), Sydney.

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