Enggano fishbone spear


Enggano, Pulau or Bengkulu – South Sumatra, 19th century

Materials: Wood, Iron, Resin,Fibre

Status: Available



An Enggano fishbone spear, 19th centuryThe Enggano island is located on the south of Sumatra and was spared from trading and raiding contact un till the 19th century, due to its treacherous coral reefs which surround the entire island. After first contact in the 19th century, the local inhabitants were soon the victim of slave trade and European diseases which led to a decrease of the primordial inhabitants by more than 80%. Local culture and rituals was nearly exterminated due to foreign influence. The artifacts which were collected from this region are all gathered in the 19th century and made it to Europe.
An Enggano fishbone spear, 19th century

Among the collected items from these period are weapons. Mostly knives and spears. The indigenous inhabitants lacked the skill of forging iron or steel so many weapons were made with traded steel which was forged in their own taste. Among these weaponry is the iconic spear (Ekajo). Varying in three distinguishable forms. The curved hook form, the double edged arrow form and the fishbone type with barbs which is listed here.
Pole arms were often made from wooden shafts with spear blades held with a strong resin. comparable with the ‘damar’ used in Kalimantan. Most spears are equipped with two pronounced barbs on the lower end of the spearhead, but are mostly missing. The hard wooden shaft is decorated with a ‘lightning’ pattern running down the shaft.
An Enggano fishbone spear, 19th century An Enggano fishbone spear, 19th century

Due to the relatively short period of contact, the weapons from Enggano can be considered very rare and hardly enter todays market.

Condition: Excellent, some small pitting near the tip, further original condition and complete.

– Ex Dutch Private collection
– Ex Pieter de Dood Amsterdam

Spearhead: 21,5cm
Shaft: 181cm
Total length: 202cm

Comparable example: The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, bequest of C. Stone. acc.nr.36.25.2045
An Enggano fishbone spear, 19th century

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