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Chest ornament
Place of Origin: Indonesia, West Sumba regency, Sumba island
Date: approx. 1800-1900
Object Name: Jewelry
Materials: Gold
Dimensions: H. 8 in x W. 11 in, H. 20.0 cm x W. 28.0 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the James and Elaine Connell Collection
Department: Southeast Asian Art
Collection: Metal Arts
Object Number: 2012.29
On Display: No

More Information

Exhibition History: "Hidden Gold: Mining its Meaning in Asian Art", Asian Art Museum, March 4, 2016-May 8, 2016
Additional Label:

The Indonesian island of Sumba, like much larger Sumatra to the northwest, is home to an extensive tradition of gold jewelry. Called a marangga, the object here comprises two triangular components of beaten gold folded over one another to create a large but light and luminous ornament.

Yet marangga such as this are far more than mere ornamentation, for they simultaneously represent both the ancestors of a given family group and the associated wealth of that group. For this reason, they were typically kept in sacred houses (adat) and only brought out on important ritual occasions such as marriages, where priests would wear them as a breast plate or on a necklace. Indeed, since these objects both represented the family lineage and attested to the status of their owners, they were crucial to the ritualized exchanges of valuables between families that take place in Sumban marriages, and thus to the continued integrity of Sumban society.

(Label from Exhibition Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art)


Exhibition History: "Hidden Gold: Mining its Meaning in Asian Art", Asian Art Museum, March 4, 2016-May 8, 2016
Expanded Label:

The Indonesian island of Sumba, like much larger Sumatra to the northwest, is home to an extensive tradition of gold jewelry. Called a marangga, the object here comprises two triangular components of beaten gold folded over one another to create a large but light and luminous ornament.

Yet marangga such as this are far more than mere ornamentation, for they simultaneously represent both the ancestors of a given family group and the associated wealth of that group. For this reason, they were typically kept in sacred houses (adat) and only brought out on important ritual occasions such as marriages, where priests would wear them as a breast plate or on a necklace. Indeed, since these objects both represented the family lineage and attested to the status of their owners, they were crucial to the ritualized exchanges of valuables between families that take place in Sumban marriages, and thus to the continued integrity of Sumban society.

(Label from Exhibition Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art)