Enquiry about object: 8597
Borneo Brass Kettle
Borneo - Brunei or Malaysia 19th century
height: 21.5cm, length: 28.3cm, width: 13.7cm, weight: 2,120g
UK art market
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This fine, zoomorphic kettle was cast on the island of Borneo, either in Brunei or the Malaysian part of the island. Shaped as a stylised, fat-bodied duck, is stands on four flared, zoomorphic feet, has a spout shaped as a duck’s head, balanced at the other end with a tail finial, a non-hinged lid that sits in a raised well, and a hinged swing handle.
The body of the vessel is decorated in high relief with snakes, fishes and a crab – all animals associated with rain and this fertility and prosperity. Fine fern scrolling fills out the spece between the animals.
The handle is cast with two crocodiles (more water motifs) separated by a sphere that might be modelled after a Chinese long-life symbol.
Vessels such as these were not used for tea or coffee but for drinking water. Some were not used at all but were owned simply as a store of wealth by inland communities such as Dayaks.
The kettle has a wonderful chocolate-brown patina. It is well cast and there are no losses or repairs.
Chin, L., Cultural Heritage of Sarawak, Sarawak Museum, 1980.
Singh, B., Malay Brassware, National Museum of Singapore, 1985.