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Section of a man's headdress
Place of Origin: Indonesia, Nias Island, North Sumatra Province
Date: approx. 1800-1900
Object Name: Jewelry
Materials: Gold
Dimensions: H. 28 1/2 in x W. 13 3/4 in, H. 72.4 cm x W. 34.9 cm (overall mount)
Credit Line: Gift of the James and Elaine Connell Collection
Department: Southeast Asian Art
Collection: Decorative Arts
Object Number: 2012.11
On Display: No

Description

Label:

The island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra is known for its gold jewelry. This finely wrought gold spire was once part of a headdress worn by noblemen in southern Nias. The hat's fishtail palm shape evokes the Tree of Life, a motif common to the arts of Nias and many other Southeast Asian islands.

In highly stratified Nias the production and presentation of jewelry was an essential part of the extravagant ôfeasts of honorö that traditionally anchored the society. After the exposure of the people of Nias to Dutch colonization and Christian conversion, such feasts dwindled as did the skills needed to create gold objects for such ceremonies.


More Information

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

Sumatra is rich in gold deposits that were exported throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Gold on the island has long been treasured for its luster, malleability, and resistance to corrosion. Ancient Indian texts describe a region called “Suvarnadvipa,” or the “Isle of Gold” thought by many scholars to refer to the Indonesian islands, particularly Sumatra. In many Indonesian island cultures, including that of Sumatra, gold was associated with the sun and with the ancestral deities. Accordingly, gold evokes the symbolism of death and rebirth as exemplified by the setting and subsequent rising of the sun.

The island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra is known for its gold jewelry. This finely wrought gold spire was once part of a headdress worn by noblemen in southern Nias. Its fishtail palm shape evokes the Tree of Life, a motif common to the arts of Nias and many other Southeast Asian islands.

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


Label:

The island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra is known for its gold jewelry. This finely wrought gold spire was once part of a headdress worn by noblemen in southern Nias. The hat's fishtail palm shape evokes the Tree of Life, a motif common to the arts of Nias and many other Southeast Asian islands.

In highly stratified Nias the production and presentation of jewelry was an essential part of the extravagant ôfeasts of honorö that traditionally anchored the society. After the exposure of the people of Nias to Dutch colonization and Christian conversion, such feasts dwindled as did the skills needed to create gold objects for such ceremonies.


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

Sumatra is rich in gold deposits that were exported throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Gold on the island has long been treasured for its luster, malleability, and resistance to corrosion. Ancient Indian texts describe a region called “Suvarnadvipa,” or the “Isle of Gold” thought by many scholars to refer to the Indonesian islands, particularly Sumatra. In many Indonesian island cultures, including that of Sumatra, gold was associated with the sun and with the ancestral deities. Accordingly, gold evokes the symbolism of death and rebirth as exemplified by the setting and subsequent rising of the sun.

The island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra is known for its gold jewelry. This finely wrought gold spire was once part of a headdress worn by noblemen in southern Nias. Its fishtail palm shape evokes the Tree of Life, a motif common to the arts of Nias and many other Southeast Asian islands.

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