‘Duri-duri’ translates approximately as thorns and aptly describes the multi pronged shape of this type of ear pendant. Where there is a single large phallic-like thorn the pendants are known as ‘duri duri’, where two such protuberances flank the opening and the entire form takes on the symbolism of the female genitalia the pendant is known as a ‘sitepal’. As such the two pendants function to symbolise the union of the sexes, and like other objects in the collection, such as the Sumbanese ‘mamuli’, accession number 265.1992, this object is associated with fertility and its form which incorporates both the male and female reproductive organs suggests the unisex nature of its use. This ear pendant might have been worn by either a male or female member of the Toba Batak community, either as a pair or on its own. However due to its own “thorny” nature the spikes would prevent it from being worn through an opening in the earlobe, so instead it was attached to the upper ear by string or may also have even been worn on a string tied around the forehead or chest.)Very few ‘duri duri’ were made of solid gold and were instead produced from a number of different alloys that were, like this example, gilt with gold leaf.
Asian Art Department,AGNSW, April 2015
Mandaka (ear pendant)
19th century-20th century
gold plated pendant
4.7 cm diam. (irreg.)
Gift of Christopher Worrall Wilson 2010
Not on display