Chinese coins used across Southeast Asian trade networks were frequently incorporated in textile and object design. As the intrinsic value of these small round coins waned, the coins widely known throughout the Indonesian archipelago as ‘Kepeng‘ were invested with talismanic qualities. The square hole that pierced their centres quickly inspired their use to enhance the decorative and protective qualities of textiles and other ceremonial objects. Whilst coins were commonly used to provide protection to the wearer, coins of other currencies were also used to demonstrate wealth. Like the headdresses of the ‘Akha’ women of mainland Southeast Asia which are elaborately decorated with coins, this more humble comb also employs glittering coinage to attract onlookers and inform them of the wearers status.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, April 2015
Comb in form of bird with stand
6.5 x 14.0 x 8.0 cm
Gift of Christopher Worrall Wilson 2010
Not on display