Tiganja Heirloom Ornament

Palu, Kaili, Panona and Kulawi Peoples, Lake Poso, Sulawesi

Gold

19th Century or earlier
2.5 in/6.3 cm 

Taiganja are mysterious objects that are clearly related to the omega form of earring known in Sumba as a mamuli and in the Philippines as a ling lingo, but they display some features uniquely their own. From the side, they can appear to be the head of a dragon in flight; viewed vertically, one senses a bird with wing wide spread. Typically brass, they may be worn by men or women depending on the context and serve in an apotropaic capacity. Gold examples are exceptionally rare, this being only the second seen in my career and were used only by kings and queens. It is likely this piece is hundreds of years old.