Superb & Massive Pair of Man’s Solid Brass Spiral Ear Ornaments
Kenyah/Kayan Dayak People, Sarawak, Borneo
diameter (each): 4.5cm, thickness: 4cm, combined weight: 433g
Ear ornaments of brass were signs of prestige and power. And this pair of Kenyah Dayak solid cast brass ornaments of spiral form meant for a man are among the largest we have seen, weighing almost half a kilogram between them. As such they are both ear pendants and weights, designed to help stretch the earlobes to exaggerated lengths. They also have a superb smoothness and dark-golden patina that has come from years of handling and wear.
Earrings of this size and weight would have been reserved for a person of great prestige.
A smaller, single ear pendant of spiral form is illustrated in Hoek
et al (2004, p. 228).
The examples here are in excellent condition and have an exquisite patina and ‘feel’ in the hand.
Brinkgreve, F., & D.J. Stuart-Fox (eds), Living with Indonesian Art: The Frits Liefkes Collection, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, 2013.
et al, Ethnic Jewellery: From Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, Pepin Press, 2004.
The Jewelry of Southeast Asia, Thames & Hudson, 2000.
Power and Gold: Jewelry from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, The Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva, 3rd ed. 1995.
Acquired in the UK, from the estate collection of Dr George Yuille Caldwell (1924-2016). Dr Caldwell, an English-born physician moved to Singapore in the 1950s, from where he built up a collection of mostly Borneo-related textiles and other ethnographica.
Inventory no.: 3940