Kabeala – Traditional Weapon from East Nusa Tenggara
Kabeala is a one-sided traditional sword from East Nusa Tenggara. This weapon is usually carried by slipping it in man’s belt. With a shape that looks very similar to Golok, another traditional weapon from Indonesia, this weapon is mostly used for farmland activity. Yet, this weapon is also used as a symbol of masculinity in East Nusa Tenggara.
The Design of Kabeala
This traditional sword has various shapes for the handle and the sheath. This variation is not utterly meaningless. For example, if the weapon has a wooden handle, it means that the weapon is mainly used as tools for farming. Otherwise if it’s made of animal’s horn, then it’s for self-defense.
The use of this weapon is mainly because of the landscape of East Nusa Tenggara. For example, in Sumba Island, where the society is surrounded mountain, forest, and meadow. In order to keep themselves from harmful beasts that may exist, men are required to bring Kabeala wherever they go.
This weapon’s blade has one sharpened side that is 44 cm in length. On the other hand, the hilt is only 15 cm long. From the hilt to the sharp end, the width is increasing from 1.4 cm to 4 cm.
Not only the width, but the thickness of the blade is also changing. From the hilt to the end, the thickness decrease gradually from 5.5 mm to 2 mm. In this way, the sharp end of the sword will function at stabbing, cutting, and poking.
Blacksmith who make this weapon said that the material they need is ferromagnetic iron and steel. For the sake of efficiency, blacksmiths don’t normally search or mine those materials. Instead of finding it on their own, they buy it from a collector. The price of ferromagnetic iron and steel are quite cheap, which are 10 thousand and 20 thousand rupiah respectively.
A special treatment is applied for the ferromagnetic iron. As they are incredibly soft and susceptive, they need to be soaked in oil for to prevent rust and corrosive. In that way, they make a decent material for the sword making. Usually in one process, blacksmiths can make anything between 60-70 swords. The whole process can take days to finish.
In East Nusa Tenggara, there is one thing that becomes a problem for those blacksmiths. They melt the material by using firewood, which makes them so much depend on the weather. Once they got rainy days in a row, they could run out of firewood as it gets wet.
As hard as it seemed to make Kabeala, many people is East Nusa Tenggara still think of it as a reliable business. The reason is because there is a high and constant demand for it. This high demand comes from both professional use and tourism. For the professional use, they make a cheap sword with a decent functioning blade which cost 50 thousand rupiahs in the end. But, for tourism, they add one more type of this sword, which is the artistic type of Kabeala. It cost around 400 thousand rupiahs each.