east Java, Indonesia
10th century or earlier
11.5 (h) x 9.5 (w) cm
Musée Barbier Mueller, Geneva
© Musée Barbier-Mueller Photograph: Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet
Gold face covers are among the adornments to survive in ancient burial sites across Indonesia and the Philippines. Prestige goods were considered as important in death as in life. The gold interred with the body guaranteed that the status and wealth of the deceased was acknowledged in the afterlife. Cut from beaten gold, some death masks cover the whole face, while others simply outline the facial features.
This gold death mask from Java is inscribed with simple geometric patterns and describes eyes, brows, nose and mouth.