A kanta shield from Celebes
The ‘Kanta’ is a rare type of war shield used in Celebes, in the area of the Gulf of Tomini. It’s rather uncertain which exact indigenous tribe specifically used this type of shield. But old documentation and literature tells us it was used by the Toraja, Topebato and Kulawi people. The shield were layed in with nassa shells and pieces of mother of pearl or bone.
Gulf of Tomini, Central Celebes – Indonesia – circa 1900
Materials: Wood, Rattan,Nassa shells, Bone, Goathair.
The ‘Kanta’ is a rather long and slender shield with a V-shaped front. The shield tapers towards the lower and upper ends and is decorated with bone inlay triangles and nassa shells. The front shows overlapping tufts of goathair and is dyed black, likely done with squid ink.
It is made of one single piece of wood with an intergrated handle on the inside. The shield is reinforced with twelve rattan bands to prevent it from shattering when being strucked. Six on the lower end and six on the upper body of the shield. The backside is smooth and undecorated.
Condition: Very good, no cracks or damage. Some bone inlay triangles are professionally restored, the goat hair and shells are entirely original. An excellent example of a rare type of shield that vanished during the 20th century.
Provenance: Dutch Private Collection.
– Bronbeek Museum Arnhem ass. nr. 2003/00-22
– Ethnographic Museum of the Military Academy Breda ass. nr.RMV3600-5831
– Collection Tropenmuseum ass. nr. 1772-431
– A. Zonnevelds ‘ Traditional weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago’ pg.60.
– Catalogus Bronbeek Museum pg. 18/19.
– H.J. Voskuil, ‘Over Inheemse Wapens in den Oost-Indischen Archipel’ (Sixt year 1921-1922).
– A. Grubauer, Unter Kopfjäger in Central Celebes. (R. Voigtlander 1913).
– Shields from Africa, South East Asia, and Oceania, Benitez & Barbier pg. 156/157
Copyright Antiques by the Sea – 2020
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