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.
Hilt for sword (kris)
19th century-20th century
9.6 x 3.5 x 1.7 cm
Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010
Shown in 1 exhibition
Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019
Referenced in 1 publication
Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 42 (colour illus.).