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Surakarta, Java, Indonesia

Clasp for boy's sarong during a circumcision ceremony c. 1800 Materials & Technique: sculptures, jewellery, iron, gold, diamonds
Dimensions: 7.0 h x 2.0 w x 5.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of Kurt Albrecht 1990
Accession No: NGA 90.530

An important life-cycle ritual in Islam, circumcision marks the formal entrance of a boy into society. In Indonesia, Islamic customs often combine with older beliefs in the creation and performance of the ceremony. Clasps such as this snake or bird-shaped example were attached to the waist of the boy’s sarong and would be worn until his skin healed. In keeping with the significance of the rite, the object is adorned with gold and diamonds.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label