A 'Paseki' Morion helmet
The ‘Paseki’, a brass copy of the Portugese morion helmet is often falsely attributed as ‘Moro helmet’, but these particular examples seem to be made in Ternate and worn by the personal bodyguards of the Sultan in Celebes. The first examples were made in the 16th century in Ternate. In the 17th century a number of helmets made it to North-Celebes due to the cultural trade exchange between local chieftains, the sultan and the Dutch ruling governor.
The exact origin of the local production of these helmets is yet uncertain. It is generally assumed that these helmets were copied from the Portugese soldiers during the first contact in the 16th century. Since the helmets were made of thin sheets of copper or brass, they were likely unsuitable for battle compared to the heavy steel European examples. It is known that the first examples were made in Ternate, back then an important trade center. After first contact of the Sultanate of Northern-Celebes (Sulawesi), the Sultanate adopted the Moluccan made helmets for their bodyguards. To be precise, the Tobela. It is known that besides Celebes, also the guards of the Sultan of Tidore wore these helmets. The helmets were worn from the 16th to even up in the early 20th century.
Looking at the quality, decoration and deep dark patina, I would date this example to be mid 17th to 18th century. Later examples were made in less quality and more for dance rituals and ceremonial purposes.
A good old example consisting of a skull made of two sheets riveted together with a dramatic high point on the front and back. The top is decorated with a casted bronze lopsided pike. The front contains three tubes which were meant as plume holder. The inside lacks a liner, since the helmets were worn on top of their headscarves. Both sides are decorated with European style of motifs and studs ending up in a stylistic flower on top of the skull. The rim is reinforced with a brass liner riveted to the edges.
Condition: Good condition, some ware considerate to its age. A small crack on the right side of the skull. Some deforming of the brass sheet on the rim. One iron ring is missing. Further a good genuine example with an excellent deep patina.
Dimensions: 32 x 25 x 27cm
– Albert van Zonnevelds ‘Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago’ p.51
– National Museum of World Cultures ac.nr. TM-1322-178
– The British Museum (attributed as dancing equipment) ac.nr. As,HOF.88
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