A Bronze Sumatran 'Peurise Teumaga' shield
During the colonial rule of Indonesia by the Dutch, North Sumatra was a major stronghold of the local inhabitants. In the region of Aceh (Atjeh) many Sultanate Acehnese warriors picked up their weapons and fought the Dutch in a magnificent geurilla war. The so-called Atjeh war which lasted from 1873 untill finally won by the Dutch in 1914.
This large shield dates from around 1880.
The Sumatran shield used by the Acehnese can be sorted in four types; the ‘Peurise Awe’ (rattan shield), the ‘Peurise Nilo’ (buffaloo hide shield), ‘Peurise Paru’ (stingray skin shield) and the ‘Peurise Teumaga’ (bronze shield) which is our example here.
The bronze casted ‘Peurise Teumaga’ shield vary in decoration and size. This example is rather large and measures 40cm diameter. The shield was usually carried on the back, and held in the left hand while in the other hand a sword like the ‘Siking Panjang’ or ‘Cojang’ was used to engage the enemy in close combat.
This example seems to be made for ceremonial purpose or as dowry since it is rather heavy.
The decoration on these shield vary from bronze knobs to typical Achenese star-shape applications. Mostly seen with four stars, but sometimes even with seven stars as can be seen on this example. The earliest examples which we find in Dutch museums such as Bronbeek are rather plain and were taken as spoil from the Aceh war. This example was mentioned by the previous owner as coming from an old collection which was assembled in the late 19th century. Therefor I believe this example dates from this period, but could be in fact a little later, like 1900.
The later examples made in the 20th century, even in the second half of the 20th century lack the quality compared to early examples. Most are made for dancing or tourist purpose.
Some collectors believe these shield have their origin in Minangkabau, which is is unlikely in my opinion hence all other typical Achenese shields have a similar decoration. Both Aceh and Minangkabau are strongly Islamic influenced which can be a connection in trade or dowry between tribes. Both have a preference for Islamic style and influence.
Condition: Excellent, excellent natural patina.
Provenance: An Belgium private collection.
Sources: ‘A. G. Zonneveld’s ”Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago” p.106
Copyright by Peter Andeweg – 2020
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