Image: Cuirass, Kiribati E9221

Cuirass, Kiribati E9221

Provenance: Kiribati, Micronesia, Pacific

A full assemblage of body armour would consist of this cuirass, a helmet, back plate and other clothing elements. The high back protected the wearer’s neck and head from stones thrown by warriors from his own side. I-Kiribati armour is arguably the most highly developed form of traditional body protection in the Pacific. It is said to possess spiritual qualities to ensure fighting success. This piece was acquired by the Australian Museum in 1990.

Description: thick brown, closely woven coconut palm fibre bound on a sturdy netted frame; high curved neck riser; adjustable coconut fibre; surface decorated with dark brown human hair in a pattern including fish shapes, stripes, diamond and V-shapes; back of cuirass also decorated with ten short, suspended strips of black and white circular seeds.

Height: 31cm; Length: 96cm; Width: 45cm

Emma Furno
© Australian Museum

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