Inventory no.: 4076

Brass Head Ornament (Sanggori), Toraja People, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, 19th century


Brass Head Ornament (Sanggori)

Toraja People, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

19th century

width: 20.5cm, height: 19.5cm, weight: 214g

This fine sanggori amulet has been cast in brass alloy in spiral form, in the shape of a coiled, stylised serpent. The casting includes ridges which run the object’s full length. The surface also appears to have been gilded (gold plated.)

These were worn by Toradjan (or Torajan) men of central Sulawesi (formerly known as the Celebes) in Eastern Indonesia as part of the headdress. They were believed to afford magical, talismanic protection particularly in battle. When not being worn, they were placed on the household shrine or altar. The serpentine form represented the earth or lower world. They were also used to adorn wooden funerary statues.

According ot Capistrano-Baker (1994, p. 88),

sanggori also were among the ritual offerings used in ceremonies to promote rain during drought.

When worn, they were held in place


n the head by means of a cloth that was wrapped around the head with the tail of the sanggori inserted through the wrappings.

According to Brinkgreve & Stuart-Fox (2013, 264), when

sanggori first came to the attention of European visitors around 1900, the skill of producing them was already apparently lost.

to see an example in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, and another


in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other examples are illustrated in van Cutsem (2005, p. 213), Rodgers (1995, p, 282-83) and Brinkgreve & Stuart-Fox (2013, 264).

The example here is in excellent condition with a slightly won and encrusted patina.


Brinkgreve, F., & D.J. Stuart-Fox (eds),

Living with Indonesian Art: The Frits Liefkes Collection, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, 2013.

Capistrano-Baker, F.H.,

Art of Island Southeast Asia: The Fred and Rita Richman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994.

Carpenter, B.,

Ethnic Jewellery from Indonesia: Continuity and Evolution, Editions Didier Millet, 2011.

van Cutsem, A.,

A World of Head Ornaments: Africa, Asia Oceania, America, Skira, 2005.

Rodgers, S.,

Power and Gold: Jewelry from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, The Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva, 3rd ed. 1995.


private collection, UK.

Inventory no.: 4076