Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1849 Arafura warrior

Subject: warrior
Culture: Arafura / tribal Maluku
Setting: tribal warfare, piracy, eastern Indonesia 19thc
Object: swords = parangkrai silai 'great sword' (Tanimbar); lopu (Seram)

​* Dallas Museum of Art > Pacific Islands
"Sword with handle resembling a human face in profile
Indonesia: Southeast Moluccas, Tanimbar Islands  19th century or earlier  Iron, wood, buffalo horn, bone, and rattan ...
Long ago among the Tanimbarese, the krai silai (great sword), was the most impressive of all weaponry.  The handles of such swords were usually composed of wood and bone and decorated with carved spiral patterns.  This krai silai is distinguished by the shape of its handle which resembles a human face in profile.  According to the Tanimbarese, the face could be that of an ancestor who guaranteed protection and a successful outcome in battle to the bearer of the sword.  This symbolism was common on Tanimbar, where ancestor veneration  was practiced.  Ancestors were believed to take up residence in tools and weapons bearing their image and help their descendants in undertaking difficult endeavors."