Cultural History In Focus | "Gold Jewellery in Nias Culture" by Maggie de Moor

 

Necklace in the Shape of a Half Moon, Nias, Before 1883.
© Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen | The Netherlands

 
 
 

Gold Jewellery in Nias Culture

by Maggie de Moor

 
 
 

This article was generously provided by Maggie de Moor and Arts of Asia.

 

Memorial in Stone of Mother and Child
© Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen | The Netherlands

Detail of a Chief’s Sword | Balatu Sala
© Dallas Museum of Art | Texas, USA

Necklace in the Shape of a Half Moon, Nias, Before 1883.
© Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen | The Netherlands

Pair of beautiful gold ear ornaments worn by noble women in South Nias. (Nias Tribal Treasures: plate 41, Delft 1990)

Chieftan’s Headhunter Torc | Kalabubu
© Dallas Museum of Art | Texas, USA

Grand panel depicting heirloom jewelry, South Nias, Private collection.

Aristocratic Wooden Storage Container with Human Hands
© Dallas Museum of Art | Texas, USA

Brass Earrings in Leaf Form for girls and women. South Nias. Before 1894.
© Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen | The Netherlands

 

Village Hilisimaetano, South Nias. (Photograph Maggie de Moor, 1985)

Village Hilisimaetano, South Nias. (Photograph Maggie de Moor, 1985)

The gold is weighed by a small balance and various weights. (Photograph Maggie de Moor, 1985)

A goldsmith of aristocratic descent from the village Hiliganuha, South Nias, still working much the same as his predecessors did hundreds of years ago. (Photograph Maggie de Moor, 1985)

Some of the goldsmith’s tools: the plate is filled with punches, iron pliers and shears. (Photograph Maggie de Moor, 1985)

A wooden armband töla jaga with incised patterns. In earlier days covered with thin gold sheet, worn by women. (Photograph Maggie de Moor, 1985)

A villager of Orahili, South Nias, with a golden smile. (Photograph Maggie de Moor, 1985)

Village Bawömataluo, South Nias. (Photograph Maggie de Moor, 1985)

 

Noblewomen from South Nias wearing töla jaga bracelets, gaule earrings and very distinctive golden head ornaments. (Photograph C.B. Nieuwenhuis ca. 1915.)

Noblemen from Hili Dgiòno, South Nias, wearing an abundance of jewelry, showing their rank in their golden crowns, moustaches, earrings, different types of necklaces and bracelets. (Photograph Modigliani 1890: fig.4)

Nobleman from South Nias wearing a nifatali naklace and a gaule ear ornament. Despite its size, the ear ornament is relatively light in weight as it is fashioned o fvery thin goldsheet. (Photograph Modigliani 1890: fig.4)

Chief of Tugàla-Ojo and his son, wearing gold head ornaments, earrings and necklaces, North Nias. (Photograph E.E.W.G. Schröder 1917)

Wealthy nobleman, wearing magnificent gold jewelry showing his high rank and status within Nias community. His jacket, g-orobána’a, is covered with strips of ornamented gold leaf, sewn to a base of buffalo leather. Above the sword he wears a beautifully decorated plate, South Nias. (Photograph C.B. Nieuwenhuis ca. 1915.)

Aristocratic lady of Hilisimaetano with her daughters and granddaughters, South Nias. (Photograph C.B. Nieuwenhuis ca. 1915.)

 
 

Maggie de Moor

 

Since an early age Maggie de Moor has been fascinated by various tribal groups, their rituals and the beauty of their traditional jewelry and personal adornments. As a professionally trained goldsmith and jeweler, she has studied and worked in situ with Hopi, Zuni and Navajo silversmiths followed by subsequent studies in Central and South America.

In 1983, after contributing to an exhibition at Amsterdam's Tropenmuseum (Tropical Institute) she began to turn her attention towards Indonesia and the multi-faceted role of ceremonial jewelry among the archipelago's most traditional societies. Arts of Asia magazine has graciously allowed us to post her praiseworthy 1989 article, Gold Jewelry in Nias Culture.

Ms. de Moor's metier includes a compilation of existing archival materials, literature on the subject, and fieldwork in a number of outer islands. She also has extensive experience professionally restoring jewelry as well as important non-metallic works of art. The visual power of Indonesian jewelry, the dynamics of transforming metal by means of fire, coupled with its role in the cycle of life and death, and indeed in all rite of passage ceremonies remains a constant source of personal inspiration.

Her publications and contributions to exhibitions, articles and books include: Indonesische sieraden, Oud en Nieuw, Tropenmuseum (1983), Gold Jewelry in Nias Culture, Arts of Asia (1989), Hornbill and Dragon, B. Sellato (1989), Volkenkundig Museum Nusantara, Delft (1990), Living with Indonesian Art, the Frits Liefkus collection, National Museum of Leiden (2013)

 
 

Colophon

Author | © Maggie de Moor
Publication | Arts of Asia
Issue | July - August 1989