This is an ancient 'male Mamuli shown to us in 1985. Solid gold, about  x 8 cm depicting two buffalo

The distinctive ornaments known as mamuli play an essential role in the elaborate ceremonial gift exchanges practiced on important occasions by the people of Sumba Island in eastern Indonesia. In earlier times, when the Sumbanese practiced artificial elongation of the earlobes, mamuli were worn as ear ornaments, but today they hang around the neck as pendants.

Mamuli are a fertility amulet and a part of the exchange of gifts prior to a wedding and form a part of a family's Adat treasures, which are only displayed on special occasions.

The Mamuli represents the female form but the Mamuli are further categorised as male or female depending on a set of secondary characteristics namely the width of flare and additional adornment at the base as masculine or feminine. The wider and more ornate pieces often featuring tiny animal or human forms are of the masculine category.

The more elaborate versions of the type are favoured in the East of the Sumba island.

In Sumbanese culture, precious metals are believed to be of celestial origin. The sun is made of gold and the moon and stars of silver. Gold and silver are deposited on earth when the sun and moon set or a shooting star falls from the sky. Golden objects signify wealth and divine favor. Kept among the sacred relics housed in the treasuries of Sumbanese clans, mamuli serve, in part, to maintain contact with powerful ancestors and spirits. They are rarely removed from their hiding places lest their dangerous supernatural powers kill onlookers or cause natural disasters.

Sumbanese religious specialists use Mamuli to assist in contact with ancestors and spirits. Some examples of Mamuli are considered too powerful to be displayed.


The practice of ear lobe elongation is no longer prevalent and these beautiful pieces are more likely to be seen used as pendants, or sewn to clothing.

 Thanks to Susan Corbett for much of this information 

Images of Mamuli





















Four precious, ancient gold female Mamuli


 Two gold male Mamuli



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