VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Ritual Ornament
1817
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Such head ornaments from the Enggano island (west coast of Sumatra) collected at these early times are very rare. Moreover this item is of outstanding quality. The cylindrical body is made of polished hard wood, the frog or lizard-like animal at the top is partly covered with tin foil while it’s eyes and teeth are inlaid with mother of pearl. This very expressive animal may be interpreted as a fertility symbol. Some experts consider it to be a representation of the soul. This ritual ornament is one of the earliest items in the museum’s collections.

History of the Object
This ritual ornament was obtained prior to 1855 by Colonel Wassinck. But it was Wolf Curt von Schierbrand (1807-1888), a German topographer in duty of Netherlands who donated this item with the misleading designation “a puppet from Lampung” to the Historical Museum in Dresden. It was only 1875 that it became part of the collections of the newly founded “Königliches Ethnographisches Museum” (now Museum für Völkerkunde), where later on trained Ethnographers recognized the importance of the ritual ornament.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Wood, mother of pearl, tin 
Measurements
9X10 cm. 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Enggano Island, Indonesia 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; prior to 1855 
Function
Head-ornament for a woman worn upon her chignon during the harvest festival. 
Acquisition
Collected before 1855 by Colonel Wassinck, donated to Dresden in 1855 by Wolf Curt von Schierbrand 
Copyright
Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen, Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden Foto: Eva Winkler 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden 
Museum
Museum of Ethnography, Dresden 
Credit line
Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden, Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen, Staaliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden 

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