Michael Backman Ltd - Home

Brass Head Ornament (Sanggori)
Toraja People, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia
19th century

width: 20.5cm, height: 19.5cm, weight: 214g

This fine sanggori amulet has been cast in brass alloy in spiral form, in the shape of a coiled, stylised serpent. The casting includes ridges which run the
object's full length. The surface also appears to have been gilded (gold plated.)

These were worn by Toradjan (or Torajan) men of central Sulawesi (formerly known as the Celebes) in Eastern Indonesia as part of the headdress. They were
believed to afford magical, talismanic protection particularly in battle. When not being worn, they were placed on the household shrine or altar. The serpentine
form represented the earth or lower world. They were also used to adorn wooden funerary statues.

According ot Capistrano-Baker (1994, p. 88),
sanggori also were among the ritual offerings used in ceremonies to promote rain during drought.

When worn, they were held in place
on the head by means of a cloth that was wrapped around the head with the tail of the sanggori inserted through the
wrappings.

According to Brinkgreve & Stuart-Fox (2013, 264), when
sanggori first came to the attention of European visitors around 1900, the skill of producing them was
already apparently lost.

Click
here to see an example in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, and another here in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other examples
are illustrated in van Cutsem (2005, p. 213),  Rodgers (1995, p, 282-83) and Brinkgreve & Stuart-Fox (2013, 264).

The example here is in excellent condition with a slightly won and encrusted patina.

References:
Brinkgreve, F., & D.J. Stuart-Fox (eds),
Living with Indonesian Art: The Frits Liefkes Collection, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, 2013.
Capistrano-Baker, F.H.,
Art of Island Southeast Asia: The Fred and Rita Richman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of
Art, 1994.
Carpenter, B.,
Ethnic Jewellery from Indonesia: Continuity and Evolution, Editions Didier Millet, 2011.
van Cutsem, A.,
A World of Head Ornaments: Africa, Asia Oceania, America, Skira, 2005.
Rodgers, S.,
Power and Gold: Jewelry from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, The Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva, 3rd ed. 1995.

Provenance: private collection, UK.

Inventory no.: 4076 SOLD

Click here to see more jewellery & items of adornment.