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Title

Pair of earrings in the form of ancestor figures

19th century-20th century


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

The Kenyah and Kayan peoples of central Kalimantan use personal adornment in the form of tattoos and jewellery to mark status and wealth, signify maturity and to safeguard individuals from dark magic and an array of potentially dangerous spirits believed to inhabit the human world. Heavy brass ear ornaments, like this pair of squatting figures with spiralling headdresses, would have been inserted into enlarged piercings to elongate the earlobes of adult males and females. Imagery of anthropomorphic figures alluding to ancestral spirits and deities proliferates the art of Borneo in sculptural and two-dimensional forms. These pendants most likely represent a pair of ancestors and would have had powerful connotations with the fertility and protection bestowed on the living by benevolent forebears. They would have been a treasured item of a household’s family heirlooms, and worn to display fortune and power.


Details


Place where the work was made

Kalimantan Borneo Indonesia


Date

19th century-20th century


Media category

Jewellery


Materials used

brass


Dimensions

a - earring, 8.5 x 2 x 1.7 cm

b - earring, 8.5 x 2 x 1.7 cm


Credit

Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


Location

Not on display


Accession number

549.2010.a-b



Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


  • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019


Provenance


Christopher Wilson, pre 1989-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased in Indonesia.

Mariann Ford, 1996-Dec 2010, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, inherited from the estate of Christopher Wilson. Gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010.


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 79 (colour illus.).