Chest pendant

DATE:
19th century or earlier
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Gold backed with turtle shell
CLASSIFICATION:
Jewelry
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 4 x 5 x 1/16 in. (10.16 x 12.7 x 0.159 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:
2008.68

General Description

Gold chest ornaments obtained through trade from the “outside world” were highly appreciated as substitute headhunting trophies. When a man adorned himself with this ornament, he made it clear that he was a great hunter and a distinguished person.

This pendant was valuable not only because it is made of precious gold but also because the shape and imagery were well suited to Tanimbarese cultural beliefs. The buffalo horn motif, which characterizes this pendant’s form, was an important victory trophy and status symbol on the islands, where it could be found mounted on family houses. The scene embossed on the pendant depicts two dogs flanking a successful huntsman who wears both the horn motif and ear pendants of the type made on Tanimbar.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.