Culture: Arafura / tribal Maluku
Setting: tribal warfare, piracy, eastern Indonesia 19thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Warren 2002 p
* Benitez/Barbier 2000 p162
"The two large islands of the Moluccas are Seram and Halmahera, the first of which lies in the centre of the province and the second to the north. Smaller islands, Ternate and Tidore, off the east coast of Seram were the seat of two Muslim sultanates which exerted their power over the whole territory and traded with the Papuans of western New Guinea (today's Irian Jaya). Seram is better known to ethnologists than Halmahera. Waldemar Stöhr has presented a good summary of the religions practised by the inhabitants of the eastern region of this large island. They were known as Alfuro, an Arabic word meaning 'pagan' which was applied to all the 'peoples of the interior' on the islands at the onset of the colonial period."
* Draeger 1972 p234
"The Alefuru aborigines are great lovers of red-colored objects. Preparation for battle includes wearing the red headband, and on Buru Island, the cloth (ifutin), which means 'wrap around article of cloth,' is called the milolot when donned. It too signifies combat readiness. An abundance of red-colored wearing apparel intensifies the martial ardor of the Alefuru fighting man and incites him to spill blood. Hinterland tribesmen of Ceram, to this day, are uncivilized and shun modern society. They are defensively hostile. Travel in their mountainous areas is dangerous to the uninvited outsider, who will be set upon with wild dogs, spears, blowpipe missiles, arrows, and ranjau."
*Draeger 1972 p231
"King Leimese's famous battle cry: Oto'o sala taha sala (Miss when you slash, miss when you thrust) applies equally well to any bladed weapon in the Moluccas, but the good ruler had the spear in mind as he chanted. The spear (sanokat) is the central weapon of Ceram, where, in the hands of the aboriginal Alefuru, it became the weapon most mentioned in legend. Vows of brotherhood among tribesmen are often sworn on spears thrust into the ground. Legend more often than not records water flowing from spear holds in the ground. The spear is equally respected by the Huaulu people, the wild inhabitants of west-central Ceram. The Tanimbar Island Alefuru are nevertheless skillful as spearsmen. Within their shark-cult society, they who practice feeding sharks while immersed in water with these killers without harm to themselves are some of the most skilled spearsmen in the Moluccas. Metal-tipped and hardwood pointed spears both are used. Buru Island aboriginal Alefuru call the spear enhero; they use the shaft (maen) for combat as much as they do the point. This strange characteristic stems from the fact that they are far better staff fighters then they are spearsmen. The main bladed weapon of the Buru natives is the todo; its sheath is called the katuen."
* van Zonneveld 2001 p
* Draeger 1972 p231
"The Ceramese love of the bladed weapon is extended in their use of the parang, which they refer to as lopu. It is a specific type [of] weapon which houses a blade somewhat longer than do most Indonesian parang. The handle of the lopu is particularly good in that it is long and usually has a projection near its butt end to enhance gripping so necessary for powerful slash-swinging. A well-timed cutting action of the lopu by an Alefuru bladesman can sever as many as thirty stalks of the banana tree in one swipe. The blade itself sometimes is provided with a notch at the place near where the blade joins the handle; this serves to catch the enemy's blade, deflect it, or trap it. The lopu is rarely carried in a sheath. Alefuru aboriginals on Buru Island call the parang a todo in the northern areas. it is a somewhat shorter-bladed weapon than the lopu. Its sheath (totopenan) serves as a shield in combat."
* Benitez/Barbier 2000 p162
"As for Halmahera, we have only sparse information on the inhabitants in Galela to the north, where shields .. are known as salawako. Shields on Ternate are larger and broader and have a less pronounced hourglass shape. Seram shields, on the other hand, are longer and narrower.
"Fitted with a sizeable grip carved from the block, shields of this type were employed in war dances and were doubtless sturdy enough to deflect sword blows. They are sometimes reinforced horizontally by strips of rattan cane. Their decoration consists of fragments of mother-of-pearl and pieces of shell inlay running down all four sides of the face, with, in the middle almost whole shells of the Ovula ovum type. The hourglass shape -- waisted in the middle and wider towards the top and base -- seems to be specific to the whole of eastern Indonesia, since it is encountered in the east of Sulawesi. In the course of the twentieth century, shell inlay was replaced by pieces of porcelain.
"It should be noted that almost identical shields of small size, but with a single central vertical ridge, were found on the island of Buru near Seram."
* Draeger 1972 p231-233
"Connected intimately with the use of the spear and the long knife is the shield. On Ceram and Ambon it is called salawaku, a term that means 'to miss and catch.' This is in reference to the action by which a skillful warrior causes his enemy's long knife to miss its intended target and the substitution of a shield to 'catch' that blade' -- having it stick into the wood, there to be trapped. The warrior who has his long knife so cauthgt is considered to have bad technique; it is always fatal. The salawaku is a defensive weapon, but not completely so. It can be applied, after direct blocking, as a weapon to strike by its sharp edges and corners. By its particular narrow shape, the salawaku is highly maneuvereable. On Buru Island the shield is called the emuli and is comparable to the salawaku. Along the southern areas of Buru Island the shield is subtantially replaced by the sheath of the long knife. It is known as a katuen (from ka equated to kau which means 'tree,' and tuen which means 'stump')."
* Draeger 1972 p234
"Some use of the blowpipe is made on Tanimbar and Buru islands. On the latter it is called sumping. It can be used for battle, though it is more likely to be a hunting weapon. Poisons are applied to the missiles."
* Draeger 1972 p234
"The ranjau, the sharpened bamboo stakes planted in the ground along trails, are prepared from a special type of bamboo which is of a poisonous variety (bulu tui). This bamboo exudes poisonous sap. Wounds from a weapon fashioned from this wood [SIC -- bamboo is a grass] soon discolor to a bluish tinge and are hard to heal. Puncture wounds are fatal."