Rare Antique Gold Mamuli Earrings from Flores (Circa 1900)
An extremely rare pair of heavy gold Mamuli earrings from the Lio or Sikka tribe on the Indonesian Island of Flores. These earrings were made in the late 19th or early 20th century for a member of the Flores aristocracy or Royal Family. They measure 4 x 3.5 cm excluding the wires, and are solid 9k gold with a weight of 23.8 grams. I personally love both the cultural significance and the handmade nature of these gold earrings…their lack of symmetry, and the fact that one can see they have been smelted, hammered flat, then cut and filed into shape with extreme difficulty through a lack of suitable tools. They were purchased in the 1990s from a private museum in Bali and are in very good vintage condition, with a little wear commensurate with their age (they were originally bought for my wife Maureen but she no-longer wears them).
Manuli are worn as ritual jewellery in Eastern Indonesia where they are considered potent symbols of wealth and status across the region. They are also symbols of fertility. Gold Mamuli are often preserved as sacred ritual clan treasures, while other simpler Mamuli are exchanged between families as bride price payments.
Metals such as silver and gold, melted and cast from foreign coins, are classified as ‘masculine’ and ‘hot’ in the world-view of eastern Indonesian cultures. Mamuli combine both masculine and feminine attributes as the open shape of the mamuli is similar to the female reproductive organ, while the shape of the space between is penis-like.
These fabulous and rare antique gold Manuli earrings are very wearable, and would make a highly original gift for someone special.