East Sumbanese people
Kanatang domain, Sumba, Indonesia
Ceremonial ear pendant and sacred heirloom
19th century or earlier
10.2 (h) x 9.6 (w) x 1.4 (d) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
In one object, mamuli pendants encapsulate the combination of male and female elements crucial to ritual endeavours. Their omega shape makes explicit reference to female genitalia while the figures on either side are distinctly male in form and activity. Although mamuli are a male item in bridewealth exchanges, some of the largest gold mamuli with movable warrior and monkey figures at the base are viewed as the essence of the ruling lineage and its power, and are not intended to leave the noble house.