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Title

Amulet or receptacle for gunpowder

19th century-20th century


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

Amulets and adornments comprising valuable materials such as precious metal, beads, split cowrie shells and ivory, like this gunpowder receptacle, were highly prized by Timorese warriors and headhunters. These accoutrements were stored along with weapons and clothing of meo warriors within a clan’s sacred cult house. Prior to battles and headhunting raids, the objects were imbued with protective blessings before being distributed to the warriors. Attached to a small waist bag, this container may have allowed the warrior a single but advantageous shot with a musket. Firearms are believed to have been introduced to Timor from the mid-1600s by the Topasses, Portuguese who had intermarried with native inhabitants on the neighbouring islands of Solor and Eastern Flores. The Topasses established powerful alliances with local groups on Timor in exchange for diverting the sandalwood trade to the island’s northern coast, and by the mid 1700s they controlled much of Central Timor.


Details


Other Title

Gunpowder container


Date

19th century-20th century


Media category

Arms & armour


Materials used

dugong tooth, wood, shell, beads, natural fibres


Dimensions

45.0 x 4.0 x 3.0 cm


Credit

Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


Accession number

554.2010



Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


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


Referenced in 2 publications

Bibliography


Southeast Asian Tribal Art, Nov 1986, Plate 32 (colour illus) unpaginated..

Unknown, Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 67 (colour illus.).