Two Matara ‘Diamond’ & Silver Buttons
Coastal Regions, Sri Lanka
height: 3.5cm (each), width: 3.5cm, weights: 11g & 12g respectively
These two elegant buttons comprise faceted stones known locally in Sri Lanka as Matara diamonds (white zircons) in silver box settings. (Matara is a sea port on the south coast of Sri Lanka from where the stones come.) The stones are arrayed in their settings as bunches of flowers.
Ceylonese silversmiths and other craftsmen produced items with Dutch influence during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This brooch is one example, which has parallels with eighteenth century European jewellery with its cruciform motifs.
Similar work was the basis for the
kerosang brooches used by the Straits Chinese and Malay women in Malaysia and Singapore. Kerosang brooches were used in place of buttons to keep blouses closed. Many were produced by expatriate Tamil craftsmen and so often the jewellery of the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore bore similarities in terms of themes and construction with that produced and worn in Ceylon.
A brooch of similar construction is illustrated in Coomaraswamy, A.K.,
Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, Pantheon Books, 1956, plate XLIX. Others are illustrated in Wimalaratne & Gomes (2001).
Both buttons are in a stable, wearable condition. One small stone is defficient in one.
Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, Pantheon Books, 1956 reprint of the 1908 edition.
Wimalaratne, K.D.G. & D. Gomes,
Costumes of Sri Lanka, 2001.
UK private collection
Inventory no.: 1366
A 17th century Dutch church