MATCHING PAIR OF SILVER FILIGREE ISLAMIC TALISMANIC DISCS (KAWARI), DECORATED WITH MAGIC SQUARES CONTAINING ARABIC/JAWI SCRIPT, SULAWESI, 19TH CENTURY, DIAM. OF EACH 7.5CM.  IMAGE COURTESY OF MICHAEL BACKMAN LTD, LONDON – TAASA Review September 2021

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This article was originally found in the September 2021 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 30, Issue 3, Page 16).

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An analysis of their ornamentation reveals that the NGA kawari not only display intricate talismanic imagery but also follow the broader visual vocabulary of Islamic and Malay art.

The careful attention placed on the form and distribution of individual decorative elements is indicative of the Bugis’ deep understanding of Islamic symbolism and theological concepts, rather than evidence of the mere borrowing of motifs.

Decorated with fine gold filigree set on a cinnabar base, the central images on both sides of the talismans are integrated within and surrounded by a series of concentric circles that extend from their respective centres to the rims of the discs...