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A katapu cap

Katapu or Kalapu is a traditional war cap or helmet used by Dayaks of Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia).[1]:344[2]:158[3] Katapu Kaloi is a sea dayak war cap, made by sewing large fish scales on cap made from a bast-like material.[1]:344


The Katapu is made of natural materials. There are different versions that are common throughout Indonesia. The katapu is only worn during war. It is woven from thick rattan strands that are split lengthways in the middle. It has a sturdy inner helmet that offers very good protection against sword blows. The helmet is often reinforced with other materials. For this purpose, metal plates, large fish scales, pangolin scales, bear skin, monkey skin or the skins of other animals are used. Various materials are also used for decoration such as: wattle, poultry feathers, claws, beaks, skulls of hornbills, human hair, hair of other living things, shells, teeth of bears and panthers, etc. The decorations of the helmets are often designed in the shape of a monster head. The edge of the helmet can be framed with metal strips or wrapped in red flannel. The shells of the Nassa shell are also used. Decorations with the feathers of the hornbill are intended for warriors who have already fought in the war and serve as a status symbol. The feathers can represent the number of enemies killed. The Katapu helmets are used not only to protect against wounds, but also to act martially on the battlefield. The katapu is used by dayak ethnic groups in Indonesia and Malaysia.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Stone, George Cameron (1999). Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times. Courier Corporation. ISBN 9780486407265.
  2. ^ Lewandowski, Elizabeth J. (2011). The Complete Costume Dictionary. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810877856.
  3. ^ Crawley, Ernest (2019). Revival: Dress, Drinks and Drums (1931): Further Studies of Savages and Sex. Routledge. ISBN 9781351344517.
  4. ^ Albert G. van Zonneveld: Traditional weapons of the Indonesian archipelago. Zwartenkot Art Books, Leiden 2001, ISBN 90-5450-004-2, S. 61.

Further reading[edit]

  • George Cameron Stone: A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times. With an Introduction by Donald J. LaRocca. Courier Dover Publications, Mineola NY 1999, ISBN 0-486-40726-8, p. 341.