Sulawesi War Vest


This Sulawesi War Vest was acquired by Ned and Anna DeLoach.
Anna showed the vest at the 2006 Sea-Bean Symposium in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

The seahearts drilled and tied onto the vest may be Entada phaseoloides, which is common in South East Asia.
As with all Seahearts, the outer hull of the seed is very hard, thereby providing some degree of protection to the chest area of the warrior wearing the vest. There are approximately 250 seahearts on the vest.

Sulawesi (previously known as Celebes) is an island located in Indonesia, South East Asia;
it is east of Malaysia, west of New Guinea, south of the Philippines and north of Australia.

Detail of front (left photo) and back (right photo) of the war vest

The story behind the vest.
"Ned and I have very dear friends, Jim and Cary Yanny, who own a dive operation in Manado, Indonesia (on the island of Sulawesi). During a dinner party, they showed us the latest additions to their collection of local arts and crafts, these from another part of Sulawesi called Toraja. One was a war vest using squares of water buffalo bone as armor and after seeing the attractive way our friends displayed it, I resolved to have one of my own. After seeing their photographs, Ned resolved to have photos of his own. So on our next trip to Manado we made arrangements to fly to Makassar, spend the night there then take a car, with a driver and a guide, for the eight-hour drive to Toraja Land in Central Sulawesi. The drive itself was wonderful. We crossed the alluvial plain, then passed dramatic limestone cliffs, then entered the very green and cool mountain ranges. I won't go into detail about the culture but the Torajans are indeed unique, even to the rest of Indonesia.

We had a wonderful 4 days, but I had not seen a vest and was getting a little panicky. That wasn't the only reason I was there but I would have been very disappointed to go home without one. I finally had the sense to ask our guide, who after the first two days of showing us souvenirs that we refused to buy, had given up on us. One of the stops that day had a number of small shops with fairly attractive crafts, and "the vests"! We decided to purchase one on our way back to the car. We wandered and ended up in the last, very small, very dark shop with a lot of woven baskets and hats but no vest. While contemplating a basket purchase I glanced up to the back of the shop and at that very same instant, Ned said, "Anna, do you see what I see?". Hanging from the ceiling in a back corner, coated with a thick layer of dust, was a war vest, and instead of bone, it was covered with "Sea Beans"! Don't get me on a technicality, I realize they hadn't gone to sea yet. Thrilled, we paid the first price and left the amazed shopkeeper, who clearly never thought he'd sell that vest, and danced back to the car."    Anna DeLoach

Ned and Anna DeLoach

You may recognize the "DeLoach" name, because Ned authored the book:
Reef Fish Behavior - Florida Caribbean Bahamas
co-authored: Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life - Florida Caribbean Bahamas
and is the editor of the popular book series by Paul Humann
Reef Fish Identification - Florida Caribbean Bahamas
Reef Fish Identification - Tropical Pacific
Reef Fish Identification - Baja to Panama
Reef Creature Identification - Florida Caribbean Bahamas
Reef Coral Identification - Florida Caribbean Bahamas
Coastal Fish Identification - California To Alaska
book covers

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