Battle Shield “kliau”

The shield is carved from one piece of wood and reinforced with rattan ribbons. The handle on the back is carved from the piece of wood and is not attached. 

The motifs are applied to both sides of the shield with stencils. Black pigment is burnt immature coconut shells, red pigment is dragon’s blood, which was rubbed into coconut oil.

The depicted shield demons are intended as protective spirits for the weapon bearers, but also to frighten the enemy. They were also displayed at important ceremonies. Mostly the motifs depict one or more anthropomorphic faces with long fangs, surrounded by stylised aso motifs. The shields of the Kenyah and the Kayan are painted on the front as well as on the inside.

Probably the Dayak saw and imitated the motifs on Chinese demon shields, as there were a large number of Chinese who were immigrants to Borneo. Demon faces are common in China, Japan, India and the East Indian archipelago.

Object Shield “kliau” 

Borneo, Central Borneo, Dayak

Time 19th century
Dimensions Length 115 cm, width 34,50 cm
Material Wood (jelutong), rattan ribbons, pigments


Supplementing Literature Back to room view