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Understanding geometrical features of Nuaulu shield design

Ellen, Roy (2019) Understanding geometrical features of Nuaulu shield design. Journal of Material Culture, 24 (2). pp. 210-231. ISSN 1359-1835. E-ISSN 1460-3586. (doi:10.1177/1359183518803393) (KAR id:69513)


This article seeks to elucidate the form and function of decorative designs on Nuaulu parrying shields from Seram, Indonesia. It builds on earlier work focusing on the shield as a sacred anthropomorphized entity with its own life-cycle, the reproduction of which mirrors the reproduction of sacred houses. It has previously been suggested that diversity in design elements is deliberately cultivated as part of a general aesthetic, connecting individuality, personhood and effervescence as features of living entities. Here the author examines the materiality of shields, documenting variation in design – especially patterns of ceramic and shell discs – and asks what significance should be attached to these. He concludes that the attribution of specific meanings to individual elements is of limited application, while the impact of the shields lies in variation itself, the perceptual affects shields have on viewers, and in abstract geometric characteristics that make them fit for ritual purpose.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1359183518803393
Uncontrolled keywords: shields, geometric patterns, formal variability, Indonesia, Moluccas
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Roy Ellen
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 06:56 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 19:32 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Ellen, Roy.

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