An image of Hilt for a sword (kabeala) or dagger

Unknown Artist

Hilt for a sword (kabeala) or dagger

Other titles:
Kris handle, Hilt for sword (kris)
Not on display
Further information

On Sumba weapons symbolising the power and status of aristocrats and warriors were worn across the front of the body, tucked into the waist of a male’s ‘hinggi’ textile, with the hilt displayed prominently. Carved in the form of a stylised fowl, this hilt for a dagger or sword (‘kabeala’) served not only as a marker of status but had strong connotations with
the supernatural world. According to Sumbanese beliefs, chickens and roosters are associated with ancestral power and augury. They are ritually sacrificed by humans in order to communicate with the spiritual upper world and appear prominently in architectural features, textiles and other prestige items. Made from precious ivory, this hilt’s worth was further
increased by the belief that all objects are imbued with their own spiritual life force.

Place of origin
Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia
19th century-20th century
Arms & armour
9.6 x 3.5 x 1.7 cm
Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010
Accession number
Christopher Wilson, pre 1989-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, puchased in Indonesia.
Mariann Ford, 1996-2010, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, inherited from the estate of Christopher Wilson. Gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010.