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Fine Silver & Silver Filigree Islamic Talismanic Disk (Kawari)
Bugis People, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
diameter: 5.8cm, weight: 13g
This silver disk is a known as a kawari and was used by the Islamic, seafaring Bugis people of South Sulawesi (formerly known as the Celebes) for their
talismanic or protective properties. Such disks were worn by the children of noble and well-to-do families, suspended on chains, usually one on the back and
one on the chest.
Each side of kawari is embellished with designs in fine filigree silver and applied flattened granulations, a type of work known as telur ikan (fish egg) work. One
side is taken up by a stylised blossom motif contained within a circle, all decorated by scrolling floral patters. The other side has a central star motif within a
circle, all decorated with scrolling filigree.
The disk is in fine condition with excellent patina and clear age. There are minor losses to the applied filigree due to age and wear.
Similar examples are shown in Richter (2000, pp. 214-16).
Richter, A., The Jewellery of Southeast Asia, Thames & Hudson, 2000.
Provenance: private collection, UK.
Inventory no.: 1618
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The Bugis child on the far right in this early photograph
wears a kowari disk on her chest. A matching disk would be
on her back. The pubic cover is a caping, also made of silver.