Heirloom Earrings 10363

Tanimbar islands, Moluccas


19th Century or earlier

2.5 x 2 in/6.5 x 5 cm

Tanimbar preserved an ancient, Neolithic, boat-based culture. The nobles achieved wealth through the trade of spices and forest products, such as aromatic woods and essential oils. Antique jewelry served as a vehicle for contacting their forefathers and mothers; such pieces were often kept wrapped up in a red cloth high in the roof rafters, where the ancestors were known to reside. The sacrificial blood of a small animal needs to be spilled in order for the jewelry to be unwrapped and the ancestors consulted.