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Hilt for a sword (kabeala) or dagger

19th century-20th century


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Hilt for a sword (kabeala) or dagger by
Alternate image of Hilt for a sword (kabeala) or dagger by
Alternate image of Hilt for a sword (kabeala) or dagger by
  • Details

    Other Titles
    Kris handle
    Hilt for sword (kris)
    Place where the work was made
    Sumba East Nusa Tenggara Lesser Sunda Islands Indonesia
    19th century-20th century
    Media category
    Arms & armour
    Materials used
    9.6 x 3.5 x 1.7 cm
    Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    On Sumba weapons symbolising the power and status of aristocrats and warriors were worn across the front of the body, tucked into the waist of a male’s ‘hinggi’ textile, with the hilt displayed prominently. Carved in the form of a stylised fowl, this hilt for a dagger or sword (‘kabeala’) served not only as a marker of status but had strong connotations with
    the supernatural world. According to Sumbanese beliefs, chickens and roosters are associated with ancestral power and augury. They are ritually sacrificed by humans in order to communicate with the spiritual upper world and appear prominently in architectural features, textiles and other prestige items. Made from precious ivory, this hilt’s worth was further
    increased by the belief that all objects are imbued with their own spiritual life force.

  • 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

    Christopher Wilson, pre 1989-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, puchased in Indonesia.

    Mariann Ford, 1996-2010, 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.