A Sumatran Shield
During the colonial invasion of Indonesia by the Dutch, North Sumatra was a major stronghold of a variety of Islamic Sultanates. In the region of Aceh (Atjeh) many Sultanate Acehnese warriors and rebellions picked up their weapons and fought the Dutch in a efficacious geurilla war. The so-called Atjeh war which lasted from 1873 until finally ”won” by the Dutch in 1904 suffering many losses, but they were never able to actually defeat the Acehnese.
Aceh, East-Sumatra – ca. 1880
Materials: Cane, Rattan, Brass
The Sumatran shield used by the Acehnese can be sorted in four types; the ‘Peurise Teumaga’ (bronze or brass shield), the ‘Peurise Nilo’ (buffaloo hide shield), ‘Peurise Paru’ (stingray skin shield) and the ‘Peurise Awe’ (cane and rattan shield) which is presented here.
The cane ‘Peurise Awe’ shields vary in decoration and size. This example is rather large and measures 48cm 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 battle, thickly woven rattan which provides good cover.
The decoration on these shield is nearly always equipped with typical Achenese star-shape applications. Mostly seen with four stars, but sometimes even with seven stars as can be seen on this example. The stars symbolize the ‘Tuju Bintang’ better known as the ‘Seven Sisters’ or ‘Pleiades’. The earliest examples which we find in Dutch museums such as Bronbeek are braided examples, sometimes covered with velvet and were taken as loot from the Aceh war. This example is one of the early types with a fine patina and domed center which was derived from the Indian ‘dhal’. Therefor I believe this example dates from this period, but could be in fact a little later, like 1900.
Condition: Excellent, handles on the inside are missing, one brass boss was fitted with a piece of wood, which seems to be originally done. Further some minor ware.
Provenance: A Dutch private collection.
Sources: ‘A. G. Zonneveld’s ”Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago” p.106
Copyright by Peter Andeweg – Antiques by the Sea
To give everybody a fair chance to be the first on new arrivals, hit the subscribe button below.