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Gold Pendant (Mase)
Tanimbar, Moluccas (Maluku), Eastern Indonesia
19th century of earlier
length: 14.7cm, height: 6.3cm, weight: 14.8g
This unusual, whimsical pendant, which has been published in Forgotten Islands of Indonesia: The Art & Culture of the Southeast Moluccas (1995) is of solid,
hammered and chased gold sheet, would have been worn either on the forehead or on the chest. It shows three male figures in a joyful pose with their hands
linked, with boar or dog-like creatures on each side of the group.
The pendant is fitted with two gold rings for suspension, but the lower part also has been drilled with small holes which would have allowed it to be sewn onto
Most such gold has been found on Tanimbar Island in the Maluku Islands (Moluccas) of Eastern Indonesia. It was kept as heirloom (adat) pieces by wealthier
families and worn on important occasions. It is possible that some or most examples were not made locally, and possibly was imported from either Java or from
The ownership of gold adat pieces was very important for conferring prestige onto a household, and gold ornaments would be seized for 'adat' violations.
Dating such gold is difficult, hence our open dating of '19th century or earlier'. The fact that the gold was treated as heirloom pieces to be passed from one
generation to the next, plus the condition and patina of many extant pieces, suggests that an earlier dating is quite feasible. This is especially the case if such
gold was deemed to be imbued with magical or talismanic properties meaning that it was unlikely to be melted down. Certainly Richter & Carpenter (2012) date
related pieces to the 17th and 18th centuries.
This pendant is in a stable condition. It is accompanied by a fine, custom-made stand which beautifully displays the item.
Brinkgreve, F., & D.J. Stuart-Fox (eds), Living with Indonesian Art: The Frits Liefkes Collection, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, 2013.
de Jonge, N., & T. van Dijk, Forgotten Islands of Indonesia: The Art & Culture of the Southeast Moluccas, Periplus Editions, 1995.
Marzio, F., The Glassell Collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Masterworks of Pre-Columbian, Indonesian, and African Gold, The Museum of Fine
Arts, Houston, 2011.
Richter, A., & B. Carpenter, Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago, Editions Didier Millet, 2012.
This actual piece is illustrated on page 119 of de Jonge, N., & T. van Dijk, Forgotten Islands of Indonesia: The Art & Culture of the Southeast Moluccas,
Periplus Editions, 1995.
Provenance: private Dutch collection.
Inventory no.: 4027 SOLD
Click here to see more items of adornment.
Detail from de Jonge, N., & T. van Dijk, Forgotten Islands of Indonesia: The Art & Culture of the Southeast Moluccas, Periplus Editions, 1995: