Man's necklace (kalabubu)

DATE:
19th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Wood, gold, gold leaf, and brass(?)
CLASSIFICATION:
Jewelry
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 9 3/4 x 9 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (24.765 x 23.495 x 3.175 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Arts of the Pacific Islands - Indonesia , Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Nasher Foundation in honor of Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
OBJECT NUMBER:
2008.58

General Description

The small island of Nias, west of Sumatra and north of the Mentawai Islands, is known for its hierarchical society, elaborate feasts of merit (owasa), monumental commemorative stone sculpture, and boldly conceived objects of personal adornment, many worked from sheet gold. This necklace represents the type called kalabubu, which once symbolized success, prestige, and honor for the Nias warrior. The most familiar kalabubu is made of black coconut shell discs strung on brass wire. This example, which is more unusual, features long segments of carved palmwood, also strung on brass wire. The addition of thin sheet gold indicates ownership by a wealthy nobleman. Here diamond-shaped cuts in the gold reveal a dark, polished wood core. Delicately engraved triangles give texture to the burnished surface of the gold. Gold signified not only wealth and status but also a connection to the supernatural.

Excerpt from

"Nobleman's necklace (kalabubu)," in_ Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection,_ ed. Bonnie Pitman (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 113.