Man's symbolic pendant (mendaka)

DATE:
late 19th century or earlier
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Gold
CLASSIFICATION:
Jewelry
DIMENSIONS:
3 × 3 1/8 × 5/8 in. (7.62 × 7.94 × 1.59 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Arts of the Pacific Islands - Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Nasher Foundation in honor of Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher
OBJECT NUMBER:
2008.64

General Description

The pendant called mendaka is a symbol of rank, prestige, and power. Its cleft-oval shape implies that is was used as an ear ornament. The Sundanese interpret the organic form as a winged snake-dragon or serpent. The mendaka is found only in West Sumba. A raja once told of receiving this pendant as a gift from his wife’s father before their marriage, as an incentive to marry her.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.