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Open Access The Social Value of Elephant Tusks and Bronze Drums among Certain Societies in Eastern Indonesia

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The Social Value of Elephant Tusks and Bronze Drums among Certain Societies in Eastern Indonesia

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This study seeks to explain how and why elephant tusks and bronze kettledrums came to occupy such an important social and ritual position in certain societies in eastern Indonesia. It argues that these two objects were selected because they came to be associated with ideas of authority and rain/fertility. In making this claim, this study suggests that the ideas and symbolism associated with elephants and bronze drums in both India and Southeast Asia found relevance in, and were thus adopted by, specific societies in eastern Indonesia. Contemporary Dutch East India Company accounts and local traditions provide evidence of the role of the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit and the Makassarese kingdom of Gowa as the principal transmitters of these ideas through an extensive international trade in the highly coveted spices of eastern Indonesia.

Affiliations: 1: University of Hawai‘i, Manoa andaya@hawaii.edu

10.1163/22134379-17201001
/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17201001
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This study seeks to explain how and why elephant tusks and bronze kettledrums came to occupy such an important social and ritual position in certain societies in eastern Indonesia. It argues that these two objects were selected because they came to be associated with ideas of authority and rain/fertility. In making this claim, this study suggests that the ideas and symbolism associated with elephants and bronze drums in both India and Southeast Asia found relevance in, and were thus adopted by, specific societies in eastern Indonesia. Contemporary Dutch East India Company accounts and local traditions provide evidence of the role of the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit and the Makassarese kingdom of Gowa as the principal transmitters of these ideas through an extensive international trade in the highly coveted spices of eastern Indonesia.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17201001
2016-01-01
2018-09-22

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