Brass Malay/Minangkabau Cash Box Minangkabau people, Sumatra, Indonesia 19th century
length: 22cm, width: 24.5cm, height: 15.5cm
This oblong cashbox is elaborately cast on all sides with floral and bird motifs. The hinged lid is adorned with a plaited handle with cast humming birds or kingfishers applied to either side. It sits on four feet which give the box an overall architectural quality. A hinge and flange to the front allow the box to be padlocked shut.
It is likely that such boxes were meant as possessions for women. The Mingangkabau were (and still are) matrilineal: family wealth and inheritance passes down through the female line - from mother to daughter bypassing sons. Minang women in the household are keepers of the family's wealth and savings. Market places were controlled and run by women as well.
A slightly smaller, related example in the National Museum of Singapore collection is illustrated in Singh (1985, p. 29)
The example here is in excellent condition.
Provenance: UK art market.
References: Singh, B., Malay Brassware, National Museum of Singapore, 1985.